There is no room for insubordination in the IDF on the basis of ideology. That has been the case since Israel was formed as a state and the IDF was constituted from the Haganah. Back then, it took into its fold not just the Haganah fighters but also the Irgun fighters who had a very different political philosophy. Being a conscription army, the IDF has always been a sort-of melting pot for Israeli society and a “people’s army” whose task it is to defend Israel from the many threats it has faced and faces.

One small hiccup in this plan was the provision granted during the formation of the state by Ben Gurion to the Orthodox: (this is in a nutshell) they would control civic laws and they would be permitted to refuse military service if they were studying Torah.

That has translated into generations of Orthodox men who have not served in the IDF. By the same token, the Orthodox Zionist stream, took it upon itself to participate actively and diligently in the IDF by sending their husbands and sons not just to the army, but often to combat units. In the past two decades, this movement has accelerated and many of the soldiers who go to combat and elite units in the IDF are Orthodox Jews, typically from an Orthodox Zionist background and frequently from families who live or support those who live in Judea and Samaria/West Bank or formerly in Gaza.

They and the IDF overcame the hurdle of ensuring these highly motivated, effective soldiers would continue to serve and join the army in large numbers despite their ability to avoid service by simply declaring they would study Torah, by establishing the Hesder system. Hesder apparently means “arrangement” in Hebrew, although I’m not sure that is the reason they names this system “Hesder.” The arrangement calls for these Orthodox soldiers to spread their 3 year military service over 5 years while using the additional two years as a period of study at these specific yeshivas that were part of the system.

A few years ago, during the disengagement from Gaza, there was already a great deal of concern that since the ranks of the Hesder soldiers were dominated by people who reside in the Territories, that there would be insubordination and a refusal to obey orders. To the credit of the IDF and these soldiers, there were only a small number of problems, but for the most part these soldiers did what they had to do. In the meantime, it is no accident that the IDF often sends soldiers from different backgrounds than Orthodox Zionism to address issues involving the Israeli population living in Judea and Samaria/West Bank.

Over the past several weeks, a severe crisis has been brewing in the IDF after a number of new recruits from Orthodox Zionist backgrounds publicly declared that they would not act on orders to remove settler outposts. Their actions were supported by some of the Hesder yeshivas, and some of the religious leaders connected to these yeshivas provided support for these soldiers. These rabbis also began to speak publicly about the right of these soldiers to act this way even if it is in violation of orders.

Ehud Barak, a secular Israeli who is renowned as a great combat soldier and military leader, is the current Minister of Defense. He, together with Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, decided that they had to nip this movement in the bud and ordered that a certain outspoken Rabbi Melamed who heads a Hesder yeshiva stop teaching his guards that their actions against the IDF were permissible and desirable. He refused and Barak ordered to eliminate his yeshiva from the roster of approved yeshivas for Hesder.

Since then, a petition signed by over 150 combat soldiers, has been passed around, essentially demanding that Barak refrain from taking any such actions with the implied threat that they would stop their IDF service otherwise. Now a group of rabbis who lead Hesder yeshivas have met and instead of announcing that they would get off their high horse, publicly insulted Barak and rejected his actions. These are religious leaders who can and do influence the students who study in their yeshivas, students who are also some of the IDF’s best soldiers today.

This is a delicate moment in Israel’s history. In fact, in some ways it may be a defining moment. Historically, the population in Israel has skewed to the secular, and they have represented the majority in the IDF and were often the leaders in its combat units and elite ranks. The past couple of decades have changed this equation, particularly because of the Hesder yeshivas, and these days some of the most important IDF units and up-and-coming officers come from a religious background. This change is also reflected in the general population as the ratio of observant to non-observant or non-halachically-observant Israelis changes.

What the Hesder leaders are doing is a simple power play. They are telling the IDF’s establishment that they call the shots, not the politicians and not the secular generals. If something is deemed to be offensive to these Hesder soldiers, the rabbis suggest, then they can simply refuse to participate in their orders.

Barak knows that if he lets this course of action emerge victorious, the IDF is going to become an ineffective force in short order. He also knows that some of these soldiers are the best and most highly motivated Israel has. On the other hand, if he does nothing, then they will come to view the IDF as a shell that facilitates their political views and nothing more.

As hard as it’s going to be for Barak, he should not be afraid to shurt down any Hesder yeshivas that are out of line or whose rabbis support order-refusal. Even if it means shutting down the entire system and replacing it with new yeshivas or none at all for a while. It will be wrenching for many Israelis, especially the Orthodox Zionists, to be sure. It will be challenging for the IDF to survive otherwise and without a strong IDF, there will not be a Jewish state in short order. These young soldiers are in a bind as well, and that’s why he should not be afraid to blow up the Hesder system. These soldiers’ homes and communities rely on the IDF and without a strong IDF, they may well soon be in a war with Palestinian forces.

Shut down these yeshivas and make these rabbis lose the right to participate in any future Hesder program. Announce that any community which has more than 3 soldiers or new conscripts who refuse to serve with full support for the IDF’s leadership will lose its IDF protection for a period of 3 years. Demote every soldier who takes active steps to support this movement to challenge the IDF (petitions are fine, I’m talking about people who take concrete steps to challenge their commanders or the system) and remove them from service for a period of 3 years.

There is no room for compromise here. Israel’s very existence relies on an effective counter-offensive to what these rabbis are trying to do.

About the author

themiddle

30 Comments

  • Thanks for your excellent review of this issue.

    You state that: “One small hiccup in this plan was the provision granted during the formation of the state by Ben Gurion to the Orthodox: (this is in a nutshell) they would control civic (sic) laws and they would be permitted to refuse military service if they were studying Torah.”

    I recognize that the above was “in a nutshell” — but some readers may be under the mistaken impression that ALL civil law falls under the jurisdiction of religious courts. In sum, religious courts were granted jurisdiction over (only) personal status law, ie. marriage, divorce.

    Joel Katz
    Religion and State in Israel
    @religion_state

  • The Haredim do not refuse service, by law they defer service.

    During the ‘disengagement’ / expulsion, refusing orders was ‘low’ because the army made every effort to deprecate any instance of it in order to prevent any potential snowball from forming. Many units were kept far away from the south, Golani units declared unwillingness to have anything to do with the expulsion crime against humanity. Hesder units were sent to other areas to free up general units to go south.

    Now to the actual subject but I’m not sure there is any point in discussing it with you since you have not served in the IDF and are talking from ‘outside’.

    The IDF prides itself about being an army with morals and ethics etc… It prides itself on teaching soldiers that they must follow all orders except ‘black flag’ orders. If an order is illegal (mostly referring to civil laws), you must still follow it, but you must then report it afterwards. But the ‘black flag’ order is a major illegal order that the soldier must refuse to obey – this is what the army teaches us – that no one can use the excuse, ‘I was simply following orders’. We are taught to the obligation to use our heads and if something is wrong – refuse. This ‘black flag’ order is usually referring to orders that endanger human life.

    But for many soldiers, a black flag order includes religious beliefs as well. If a commander orders a soldier to break a commandment of the torah, many (most?) soldiers these days know that the army protects their religious rights, and notwithstanding, they (we) will refuse. Most seculars do not really respect/understand the importance of mitzvot to religious people. They would not think that a commander ordering a soldier to open an electric barrier on Shabbat is an issue, but it is, and it might also be against army rules that protect the Shabbat.

    The issue at hand is ‘evacuating’ Jewish people from land. This is viewed by many religious people as a violation of religious belief, the seculars just think it is a legal real estate issue. There is definitely some politics involved, not unlike the left-wingers who have openly claimed in the past that they would refuse to evacuate Arabs from their homes and this got much legitimacy.

    But when it comes to Jews, this is allowed. Anyway, the soldiers put up some signs that embarrassed the army. The rabbis have stated explicitly that had they been asked beforehand, they would have definitely discouraged their students and also say they do not recommend doing this, but once their students have done this ‘shtick’, they will nonetheless not abandon them and let them hang out to dry. This is exactly like a parent supporting a wayward child – unconditional love. This is the love of a great Rosh Yeshiva with his students and someone who has not learned in a yeshiva would not understand it, instead trying to compare it to the platonic relationship between a student and professor in university. (Rectors could not care less about individual students).

    The secular leaders have already lost the game. They failed to foresee the consequences of their beloved ‘disengagement’ that we are only seeing the fruits of now. Amona and the current resisting of the construction freeze orders on one hand, and just the beginning of a generation of ‘knitted kipot’ who grew up during the disengagement and still have a scar.

    Following orders and being a religious Jews is not mutually exclusive but it is a violation of human rights to force soldiers to obey orders that are contrary to their religious beliefs.

    There will have to be a compromise, because religious people are not going to suddenly ‘see the light’ and respect the corrupt Ehud Barak over God. The rabbis in the knitted kipa world have much less power than be associate to them, but Barak putting them up against the wall is merely going to strengthen their standing. Trust me on this. Rav Melamed and Har Bracha were not that significant until now, but are becoming a new symbol. It’s not too late for Barak to get off his tree, but his using the army for politics is much more important than national unity.

  • Thank you for both comments. Joel, you have to bear with me a little because I wrote that in a hurry (as you can see from the punctuation and other errors). Later, I’ll make some adjustments that specify things more clearly.

    Josh, I don’t think the secular leaders have lost anything yet. The settlement movement is not some self-supporting entity. It requires vast government subsidies, IDF protection and the consensus of the Israeli public. Don’t forget that there are different settler populations and that while you may have many Kippah Seruga types, you also have many who moved out there because of the quality of life/housing/etc. They do not subscribe to what is happening right now and WILL leave the second the situation becomes untenable.

    The people who climbed up the tree are the rabbis. This isn’t the first time. We saw this happen back in pre-Rabin assassination times and we saw this before Gaza’s evacuation.

    What they are doing is sowing the seeds of Israel’s destruction. Israel will not survive a civil war and it won’t survive a dictatorship or a theocracy. Perhaps the rabbis want to be supportive of their wayward children, and perhaps we are watching the child who is influenced by the parent who says things behind closed doors and then watches horrified as his child exposes the secret.

    There is no room for insubordination here. And while it may be that “removing Jews from the Land” is forbidden by the view of some, the survival of Israel and its populace’s consensus are far more important than even the entire settlement movement. If you like you can try to dissect the situation in favor of your beliefs by stating that Israel will have its “stages” plan where the country agrees to pursue Judea and Samaria as a province in the future but in the meantime recognizes that short term needs might be different.

    There’s always a solution.

    There is no solution to “breaking” the IDF.

  • personally, i’ve always been afraid to shurt: “he should not be afraid to shurt”

  • “Now a group of rabbis who lead Hesder yeshivas have met and instead of announcing that they would get off their high horse…”

    Now we know how you feel about the heads of Hesder yeshivas.

  • Correction: “Now we know how you feel about the heads of Hesder yeshivas AFTER what they said today as a group about Ehud Barak.”

    You know, it’s not as if it was a secret before that there are pockets in the settler and Zionist Orthodox stream of people who hate Israelis that aren’t like them. On this site, for example, we have seen many savage attacks on Israelis who are not even of the Left, but are centrist in their views. They get slammed for being secular, for being sinful, for not loving Israel as they should, etc., etc.

    And then today we saw exactly where it comes from. It is being taught by the spiritual leaders of this community – the “parents” as Josh wisely put it.

    This bilious hatred is puerile. It is exactly the same type of attack that we saw prior to Rabin’s assassination (don’t bother posting conspiracy bullshit, I’m not interested). They vilify and vilify in outrageous terms, and then when somebody goes off and kills a Jewish PM without whom there may never have been a state, or murders Palestinians because he can, or cuts down olive groves, or sets a mosque on fire, OR HOLDS UP BANNERS UNDERMINING THE INTEGRITY OF THE VERY ARMY THAT SUPPORTS THE HOMES OF THESE ATTACKERS, suddenly everybody is deaf, dumb and blind about the causes.

    The rabbis of the Hesder yeshivas should have stood in public today to denounce attacks on the IDF and its ethos. They should have stood with heads bowed. They should have shown some humility. Instead, these MEN, who are guides to an entire generation of young Israelis, stood there with hubris and insulted the IDF and Israeli leaders who love Israel no less than they and who have probably contributed far more to Israel’s well-being and very existence (not to mention the existence of the settlements themselves) than any one of these rabbis or even all of them as a group.

    There. Now you know how I feel about the heads of the Hesder yeshivas. It’s a shame, because I have always held Hesder soldiers in great esteem. Now I think the wise ones will distance themselves from the buffoons leading them.

  • WTF are you talking about? Hatred? Who’s hating who? That is a disgusting libelous accusation. I must be missing something here.
    ======

    The knitted-kipa demographic is made up of large spectrum of people and it is impossible to generalize about the whole group. On top of that, in contrast to the Haredi groups who might identify with one Hassidic dynasty or one of the great rabbis, it’s not accurate to pigeon-hole the knitted-kipas into a sub group either. The spectrum goes from people who aren’t religious but identify with them, Bani Akiva, parve, yeshivot, Mercaz HaRav, Mafdal, settlers in Judea and Samaria and elsewhere (Galil, Negev, Givat Shmuel, etc…)

    You don’t know what the rabbis are saying so you are apparently talking out of your rear about anything on the subject. Middle, best to save some personal credibility than to just air some steam on your blog about an army you didn’t serve in and don’t even know what insubordination is except what you’ve seen in the movies.

    What you are missing here is also the atmosphere on the ground, even though you don’t really care about it. The scar from Gush Katif that was felt by the whole religious spectrum from many Haredim even to the nationalistic Rabbis who might be like you ‘state [almost] above torah’ (i.e. ‘mamlchati’). The government that rammed through the Knesset legislation that the mass media widely supported and snuffed opposing views. Add to that the supreme court ‘system’ that discusses for years moving fish farms in Eilat but gave the Gush Katif settlers a collective two hours for an argument against their expulsion. I think the majority of the knitted-kipa demographic has internalized that they are being suppressed.

    The religious people have been quietly pushed into the corner and now you and Ehud Barak are waking up to the rubber band slowly starting to tear. What should scare you actually, is that the current ‘movement’ is completely grassroots. It’s coming from the regular people. There is no Grand Rabbi leading it, (Rav Kook passed away a long time ago) and as such, there is no central leadership to stop it even if they could. Each yeshiva is only a few dozen to a couple of hundred for the largest ones and the rabbis have relatively insignificant power.

    These are not ‘wayward children’. It’s not about settlers or yeshiva students. I challenge you to find out what percentage of kids on the roof of the Kfar Darom synagogue and in Amona were ‘setters’ or from ‘Israel’.

    Maybe the only rabbi that managed to unite the whole spectrum was Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (and even then, many/most national religious people don’t abide by his rulings or abide by any specific rabbi). He’s been in Shaare Tzedek fighting for his health and sometimes near-death for over the past year. May his health improve and I suggest you pray for that as well.

  • and FWIW, the people holding up the banners are hopefully what will save the integrity of the army which was hijacked by politicians for political missions, and turned into a the ‘operational arm of the government’ when instead it was created as the Israel Defence Forces to protect and fight the enemy.

    Their voices were suppressed. It’s best not to strongarm them into submission again, the next time will not be so quiet.

  • I know I would promise not to use the “muddle” word, but…

    In your “expert” review of Israeli history, you left out the concession Ben-Gurion made to the hard-left Commie purists who didn’t want their soldiers “infected” by serving shoulder-to-shoulder with middle-of-the-road Mapainiks.

    So he let them form independent units.
    The last remnants of the pre-State militias to be folded into the IDF were these Commie cells.

    And lest you think I’m exaggerating by calling them “cells” – in the 50s they were found to be stockpiling arms in several hard-Left Kibbutzim, in preparation for a coup.

    NOTHING like this is happening in the Hesder Yeshivot.

    Soldiers in the IDF officer’s corps are routinely sent to universities, where radical left-wing professors (salaries and pensions paid for by Israeli taxpayers) indoctrinate them in anti-Zionist rhetoric.

    Nobody says anything about cutting the public’s funding of these professors.

    Again, we have an obvious case of “ephah v’ephah” – double standards for Left and Right.

    And Jews like Middle who regard themselves as liberal and equable see no evil as long as the inequality tilts towards their own beliefs.

    What’s happening in the Hesder Yeshivot is a direct reaction to the perversion of democratic due process, and the concerted program to deligitimize one entire side of the political/cultural spectrum.

    To shut up free speech, subvert democracy – and then be SHOCKED at the inevitable result is the height of self-righteous hypocrisy.

    If the Gaza expulsion had been openly debated – and subject to Parliamentary due process – the loyal soldier of the Yeshivot would not be taking the actions they are.

  • From today’s newspapers:

    Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, head of the hesder yeshiva in Kiryat Arba, told the settlement weekly B’Sheva this week that “all yeshiva heads must declare, ‘We are all Har Bracha.’ We will not allow anyone to hurt one of the the yeshivot; we are one body. True, there are differences of opinion among the yeshivot, but on this issue, we are all together.”

    and

    Hesder yeshiva rabbis launched a blistering personal attack on Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday, amid a dispute over comments by one of the seminaries’ heads in support of Israeli soldiers refusing orders.

    “Barak doesn’t manage to miss a single mistake or failure,” said Rabbi Benny Kalmanson, the head of the Otniel hesder yeshiva.

    “In the past decades he has made a spree of failures as a person and as a leader. He has failed in corruption affairs that have dogged him to this day; he has been exposed in affairs of corruption and hedonism.”

    and

    “Now, after the act, Rabbi Melamed represents the whole world of hesder yeshivas,” said Rabbi Benzion Algazi, of the Kerem B’Yavneh yeshiva.

    “The attack on him is also a subterranean goal of Barak’s,” the rabbi added. “He wants to make unreal gains, and against this we need to stand as a wall and present a clear position; the union and all of the yeshiva heads need to say: If there is no arrangement with Rabbi Melamed, there will be no arrangement at all.”

    He used the Hebrew word “hesder” for arrangement, which is also the name of the IDF program.

    and

    “Unfortunately, the IDF has been used for purposes unrelated to Israel’s defense and directly opposed to God’s wishes for quite some time,” the rabbis wrote in the letter. “This situation faces IDF soldiers with a contradiction between Jewish commandments and commanders’ orders.”

    “We are committed to teach that loyalty to the lord comes before any other loyalty, whether to the army or to the government,” the rabbis went on to say.

    The document concluded with the rabbis’ assertion that they are guiding their students to “be loyal soldiers through their commitment to the word of God.”

    And Josh,

    Please review your comment just above xisnotx’s comment and think about what you’ve written. The army is precisely the arm of the politicians and nothing more. Israel votes democratically for that government and therefore it is a legitimate government. If any “political mission” was hijacked, it was the protection given to settlers on distant hilltops, even as precious military resources could have been expended elsewhere.

    And I want to point out to you that it wasn’t Barak who put up the banner that caused all of this, it were the soldiers taught by the Hesder rabbis who did this. They are the ones who brought about this fight, along with Melamed, and not Barak. It is incredible to think that Barak would have done anything other that what he has.

  • Ben David,

    First of all, with all due respect, while there may have been hard-core leftists involved in early Israel, you know that we have an Israel thanks to the Left. I mean, you’re not going to flip history here just because in 2009 you’re on the Right. Israel owes its very existence to kibbutzniks and plenty of Leftists who are now called enemies of the state by certain people.

    As for,

    And lest you think I’m exaggerating by calling them “cells” – in the 50s they were found to be stockpiling arms in several hard-Left Kibbutzim, in preparation for a coup.

    NOTHING like this is happening in the Hesder Yeshivot.

    And how do you know that?

    Do you think they’re advertising this if they are doing it?

  • Ben-David — you got a source for this?

    “in the 50s they were found to be stockpiling arms in several hard-Left Kibbutzim, in preparation for a coup.”

  • Just remember everyone. The nations dont care if you are secular zionist ultra orthodox dati lumi charedi chassidic litivish mizrachi.

    A Jew is a Jew and they will come for all of us just like they have for the past 2000 years. Dont you think the Jews of Spain said never again? and England and Poland and Russia and every massacre pogrom inquisition exile?

    I am glad that there are many Jews willing to serve in the IDF to keep Israel safe and I commend them and respect them.

    I also respect the spiritual leaders who tell their students to refuse orders that go against Torah and go against morals.

    Giving away land is what the bottom line is in this article. Forcing Jews to leave their homes so Arabs can burn them down and use them to launch rockets at Jews.

    So middle if you think the Gush Katif Gaza pull out was a success then it makes sense why you write what you write.

  • I supported the disengagement, but it’s true it was hurried along in a very undemocratic way. The Knesset is now pushing for a referendum for giving up The Golan and East Jerusalem, and they should also have one for Judea and Samaria. If the settlers, who keep bringing up how undemocratic the Gaza disengagement was, see that most Israelis don’t support keeping these territories, then at least it will be a little bit easier pill to swallow.

    As for the ones who want to live in a theocracy, there is not much you can do with these people.

  • LB Chasid, the Gaza disengagement was supposed to include regular attacks on Gaza if they launched attacks against Israel. Sharon acted the way he saw fit and while I question whether he was right, I don’t question his credentials as a tactician or strategist. I supported the disengagement and believe the concept was right. The execution and the aftermath are not so right and we’ve seen severe consequences as a result. Still, I’m happy we are out of Gaza.

  • Middle tapdances:
    First of all, with all due respect, while there may have been hard-core leftists involved in early Israel, you know that we have an Israel thanks to the Left
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    This is:
    a) a gross exaggeration
    b) a distraction from the point I made – which is that extremism – specifically, extremism far more separatist and revolutionary in its goals that RZ and its Hesder yeshivot – was tolerated and accommodated when it came from the Left.

    Efah v’efah.

    Just like leftist soldiers who refused outright to serve were not censured by the army, and were lionized by the same media that now condemns “kravi” religious soldiers for waving a banner.

    efah v’efah.

    Kindly address the issue, Middle.

    This is not a story of brave modern Jews reining in religious zealots.

    It’s a story of what happens when the level playing field of a democracy is skewed.

    It is also – hopefully – the story of how one of the last remaining pockets of socialist oligarchical rot gets cleared out by patriotic Israelis.

  • You continue to show you know less about the army than you think. It is certainly NOT the operational arm of the government. I challenge you to find a source for that claim before the expulsion in 2005. That term was never used before that. If the government wants to send units to paint elderly homes in Ofakim, or deal with a natural crisis such as a reservoir erupting causing a flood, then that is legitimate. But as long as the army is has an obligatory draft of all Israeli youth, and is not a voluntary force like the Foreign Legion or the US and Canadian Armies, it cannot be exploited politically and expect to stay in the general consensus of the nation.

    Barak is picking a fight he cannot win in order to cover up his latest corruption and poor popularity issues. He obviously knew what he was doing when ‘it seemed’ that he was only singling out one Rabbi for punishment (for not showing up to a hearing he declared) and punishing all the students in the yeshiva and those currently serving in the army (collective punishment is an ancient leftisit tactic, n’est ce pas?) Instead, he got a whole segment of the population standing behind Rav Melamed and the path is leading us all to declaring all hesder yeshivas as one and out of the army program leading to them getting into the Tal Law certification and then the students only serving a much shortened service at age 22.

    More students will sign up for Har Bracha, not less and more philanthropic money will flow to the institution to replace lost Ministry of Defence subsidy. Barak chose to climb the tree, not the rabbis who usually choose to stay out of the limelight.

  • From reading your post, I’m guess you’re not so familiar with Hesder.
    Two points: 1) Of the dozens of Yeshivot Hesder, all but one Rosh Yeshiva were willing to fall in line with Barak’s statement. Many of them have been very active in proclaiming that soldiers are forbidden from refusing orders.
    2) People in Hesder don’t do 3 years of army. Part of the agreement is that they do 5 years overall, but less than 3 years of active army service.

    I think that if you look into this a bit more, you’ll see that Hesder represents a lot of the BEST aspects of the National Religious community. The program is full of people who are ideologically motivated and contributing to the State on the highest level.

  • Ben David, even the Right was Left back then. How many years did it take for Begin to come to power? The country was built on the Left. I’m sorry you don’t want to acknowledge this fact, but it’s the truth. Go listen to Amos Oz speak. He’s a peacenik Leftist and he’ll come right out and say that when it comes to defending Israel, he will go right out to the army and do what needs to be done to fight and win the war.

    As for democracy, that is precisely what Israel had during the Gaza disengagement. Sharon, to remind you, belonged to a Right-wing party. He used perfectly appropriate procedures to push through the disengagement and just because a group of people disagrees, that doesn’t mean the process wasn’t democratic.

    By the way, the same type of bullshit attacks came out against Sharon at that time. That somehow he had caved in to the Left, that he was a traitor, that he was undemocratic, etc. Apparently the pattern of vilifying leaders, even important ones without whom Israel might not have survived, is a habit when somebody in power takes steps the far-Right dislikes.

    Josh,

    If more people join Har Bracha now, that just speaks to their fanaticism and the fact they cannot be trusted to be soldiers in the IDF. Good riddance.

    If fewer people choose to serve in Hesder because of this and study Torah instead, then good riddance to them as well. And the IDF should be sure to inform the outposts and settlements they’ve stopped protecting that they left because of a man-power shortage.

    Joshua, you are right that there were Hesder yeshivas that opposed Melamed and his claims. However, as my quotes above show, when it was time to speak up and decry his position, instead as a group the Hesder rabbis were severely critical of Barak on a personal level. I agree with you ENTIRELY that “Hesder represents a lot of the BEST aspects of the National Religious community. The program is full of people who are ideologically motivated and contributing to the State on the highest level.” No argument here. Right now, the leaders of Hesder have dragged it to a new low.

    Finally, let me be clear that this ongoing claim that the IDF is “politicized” when it is sent to do things like remove outposts or disengage from Gaza is incorrect. The IDF is not politicized by such actions. There is a vast consensus within Israel that the government has the right to eliminate outposts not one iota less than it has to support their construction or their defense. Enforcing government decisions is a role of the military and it is not any more or less political than sending soldiers to defend outposts or settlements. If the former are political, so is the latter. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  • Muddle:
    As for democracy, that is precisely what Israel had during the Gaza disengagement. Sharon, to remind you, belonged to a Right-wing party. He used perfectly appropriate procedures to push through the disengagement and just because a group of people disagrees, that doesn’t mean the process wasn’t democratic.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    With this paragraph you disqualify yourself from any further rational discussion.

    I am not going to waste my time quoting chapter and verse on the numerous subversions of democratic due process and suspensions of basic rights that preceded the expulsion.

    You now have given evidence that you’ve crossed over to joint the la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you stream of left-liberal dreamers, who rewrite the facts to suit their pet theories.

    Since you are not in the middle – and not in reality – I shall go back to calling you The Muddle.

    • Of course, Ben David. All those petitions to the High Court ensured that we knew how undemocratic the process had been. Oh wait! Those petitions didn’t work. And the party in power was the Likud. And the PM was the “father of the settlements.” And all the public polls showed a majority of Israelis accepting the move. And so on.

      Why do you even bother? Don’t you see that all of these attacks on the government and its leadership that are so obviously biased towards your POV are part of this delegitimitization process against anybody who doesn’t subscribe to your politics?

  • Muddle – I’ll be happy to see any evidence that the expulsion from Gaza was popular for any significant amount of time.

    Meanwhile, some facts:

    A Chronology of the Gaza Expulsion – from the perspective of those interested in representative democracy in Israel:

    1) After the Oslo euphoria turns to shock at continued attacks on Israel, a disillusioned populace elects Sharon and his get-tough platform – a platform which hints that he will shut down the Oslo process, at least temporarily.

    2) Left wingers in the Justice Ministry (the “Inspector General” that is emblematic of the banana-republic weaknesses in Israel’s democracy) mount a coordinated attack on Sharon, like they did to Bibi first time around. (Except that Sharon really IS massively corrupt, unlike Bibi – so it’s not so hard to find charges to press.)

    3) Sharon starts changing his tune to avoid prosecution. He creates the notion of unilateral exit from Gaza as a distraction/sop.

    This has the effect of subverting the people’s will to the minority Left wing view – while looking from a distance like “the rule of law” to useful idiots like The Muddle.

    4) Sharon’s abrupt about-face under pressure causes understandable uproar in the Likud and among those who thought they were voting for the exact opposite.

    5) Sharon promises an internal Likud referendum – and ignores it when it doesn’t go his way.

    6) When it’s clear that the Likud will bring him down rather than go along, he creates a new party – destroying what little is left of the notions of representative democracy and the rule of law.

    7) Now that Sharon is doing its bidding, the Justice Ministry finds reasons to delay the prosecutions against Sharon, and the head of the Union of Israeli Journalists decrees that “we must protect him like an etrog.”

    Thus revealing that the “watchdogs of democracy” are in fact political activists promoting the agenda of the Left.

    8) To promote the expulsion from Gaza:
    – the media mounts another round of settler-bashing propaganda.

    – the police and court system systematically deny the basic rights of protest and assembly to the growing anti-expulsion movement.

    At one point a teenage girl is sentenced to be taken away from her family and sent to a re-education camp – for the “crime” of handing out anti-expulsion leaflets on a public street.

    – settler leaders with no violent or criminal records are subjected to house arrest and other banana-republic stricture.

    – soldiers in the IDF (a citizen’s army) are subjected to psychological “preparation” to expel Jews from their homes, which includes blatant lies and political propaganda (such as the lie that Begin ordered Lehi followers on the Altalena to shoot on Irgun troops, when in fact the opposite is true).

    9) Israel is basically reduced – as it was during Oslo – to a banana republic.

    Through it all, left-wing opinion shapers constantly working to project the impression that THEY represent the forces of democracy – a lie latched onto by liberal Jews and other useful idiots with their own axes to grind.

    Such as Muddled Truly…

    • Um, not only was it democratic, but since you seek evidence that it was democratic and supported by the majority of Israelis, I’ll just point out that after Sharon’s untimely fall into a coma, Ehud Olmert – he of the new party made up of right wingers brought from Likud to Kadima by Sharon – a staunch life-long Right-winger, ran in an election against the Likud, Labor and all the others and WON. And what was his platform? He ran on the platform of executing a pull-out from the West Bank which he depicted as necessary just like the Gaza evacuation.

      Really, stop trying to change history and vilify everybody from the politicians who are to the left of Feiglin, the media that is left of Arutz7, Israelis who are left of settler rabbis who run Hesder yeshivas and anybody else who sees the world through a lens that isn’t similar to yours. I mean, really, soon you’ll be in your corner all by your lonesome self.

  • middle,
    please read this legal advice that was recently sent to Chief of General Staff Ashkenazi.

    http://www.kr8.co.il/BRPortal/br/P102.jsp?arc=43432

    It advises against using the army for political reasons and it actually finds those missions as illegal and contradicting the mandate given to the army by law. It suggests orders for soldiers to destroy Israeli homes and/or forced eviction of residents are illegal and must be refused.

    • Josh, that legal advice isn’t all that convincing. I think a competent lawyer would destroy these claims and arguments without too much trouble. One of the key objections, in my opinion, would be the acceptance of IDF activities that protect settlements as “apolitical” while claiming that actions removing those settlements are “political.” It’s one or the other but it can’t be both.

  • Muddle’s worried about me:
    soon you’ll be in your corner all by your lonesome self.
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Heh.

    Go to ynet.co.il or nrg.co.il – or even jpost.co.il, if your Hebrew’s up to those sites – and look at the comments.

    The penny has dropped for most Israelis: there really never was anyone to talk to, it really was a salami-slicing game all along for the Palis, two states west of the Jordan is suicide.

    Kadima – a political brand based on Oslo-era “pragmatism” – would have sunk this time around if Meretz voters had not voted for Livni. Which is why Meretz has about as many seats as the National Union.

    And current polls give Labor just 6 seats – continuing a slide that began when Barak snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Gaza.

    So if there’s a camp that’s shrinking, it’s what you called the “Israelis who are left of settler rabbis”… Don’t worry Middeleh – we’ve got PLENTY of company this time around…

  • Good way to put it:
    Protect life is definitely apolitical.
    Destroying is not the job of the army.

    I believe that I already posted a while back that while in the army, I had the opportunity to be called for extra patrol duty on two separate Shabbats: one was to protect skiers on Mt. Hermon, the other was the beaches of Eilat. Sure this was bad for my conscious to see so many Jews not keep Shabbat, and essentially I was also forced to do the same (as opposed to being at home or on a regular base doing nothing for the day) but that protection is definitely apolitical (despite what the extreme leftists might think about the ‘occupation’ of the Golan).

  • That is perverted.

    The purpose of destroying the homes of 9000 residents of Gush Katif was not to bring peace and security. It was to A) prove a point (that we can give territory away and the Arabs will continue to shoot at us), B) save money and army resources (supposedly).

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