Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cutting Off Your Nose to Spite Your Face

For a number of years there has been tension between the IDF and the Hesder yeshivot (those that combine Torah study with army service). Eliezer Stern, in charge of personnel, has been spearheading changes to the system that the Hesder yeshivot have protested.

The Jerusalem Post has an article this morning about the latest controversies. In the article, the author claims that the reason that the IDF wants to make changes is to "create a more homogeneous military".

What exactly does that mean? If the IDF wants everyone to be the same, then it means that either the secular soldiers should become religious or the religious soldiers should become secular - an outcome which is impossible to implement, and a foolish one for the army to attempt.

If it means that the makeup of the groups should be equal - well, they already are. It says in the article that out of 40 soldiers, the Hesder yeshivot until now have insisted that 20 should be religious. 50/50 sounds about as homogenous as you can get. If the IDF wants to have more secular soldiers than religious in each group, then "homogeneous" is not the right word.

These changes are in addition to the very problematic inclusion of female instructors for the Hesder soldiers, something that the Rabbis have strenously objected to because of religious reasons.

The overall feeling in the Dati Leumi community (national religious) is that the army is making problems for no reason. The article states, that out of the 1200 Hesder yeshiva boys drafted every year, about 800 go into combat units. It is also well known that a good proportion of those in elite units (I've heard that they make up 50%) are those who wear knitted kipot. (I don't have a link to these statistics - if anyone has I would appreciate the information). So the inclusion of Hesder yeshiva boys in the army is not detrimental to the army - it is a boon. If you consider the fact that overall religious people have more children than the secular, and in future years there will just be more potential candidates for this stream of army service, it seems that forcing these potential draftees to opt out like the Charedim (Ultra-Orthodox) is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

9 Comments:

Blogger Fabián said...

I guess that the IDF doesn't want people who will reach high command and suddenly will refuse orders, creating two armed powers like in the Hagana and Irgun years. Kind of a fifth column.

Yes, Westbankmama, they will shoot Arabs if that is what they are ordered. But will they perform the future disengagements, or will they rebel? Or will they refuse to quell a rebellion?

Best,
Fabian

4:39 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

Fabian - there were very few soldiers who refused orders this past summer, and those who did paid the price by time in jail, just like those secular soldiers who feel that they cannot serve in what others call the occupied territories.

This is a fear that did not come to pass - so it is a very weak argument for punishing the Hesder yeshivot now.

7:31 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Fabián said...

Westbankmama:

It is not the same a soldier who refuses orders than a Colonel or a General. I am originally from Argentina, so believe me, I know.

According to what I heard from people in the army, pro-Land of Israel commanders have made impossible to keep an operation secret, when it involves the removal of an outpost, and the IDF rightly fears loss of control over the information and the operative measures.

The army should prevent reaching an instance where it will be possible a large scale rebellion against their commanders. Already there is wide discontent because Hesder soldiers listen more the orders of their religious instructor than of their secular commander.

9:29 AM, February 27, 2006  
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