This is not the way to build a state. A mother who sends her children to the army does so despite the risk and fear, because if all of us do not enlist for the cause of defending the state there will be no state for any of us. Yet Ehud Barak thinks differently.
In recent years, it turns out that the army is not what we thought it is, that the state is not what we hoped it would be, and that mutual responsibility which we refer to as social solidarity is increasingly disappearing.
Why should young soldiers risk their life and devote three years to the state when it turns out - according to what the defense minister, army chief, and former prime minister – that the state cannot guarantee their safety, and the very expectation for this type of responsibility by the establishment to conscripts is categorized as a form of whining?
One wonders what they think about it at the home of the prime minister, whose son is performing his mandatory military service at this time. Do members of the Netanyahu family also don’t expect the army to guarantee the safety of their son? Or his return home? Even if we are talking about relatively secure service in an office in the center of the country?
For Defense Minister Barak, responsibility still exists, but mutuality has disappeared, just like solidarity. And let’s not waste his time. In his view we need to no longer expect, demand, or hope. We only have to give, give, and give more.
Youngsters will seek way out
Once upon a time, the army was a melting pot – a sort of well-oiled machine where everyone (or almost everyone) was sent to, where everyone was equal (more or less,) and mostly, where during their military service young Israelis got to know other Israelis as well as the country. They always knew there was someone who safeguards them.
Later, the military became the place where the margins of Israeli society meet. Friendships that cut across classes were built during the service and were maintained later on, during reserve service. Young people who experienced a rough childhood found in the army a springboard to advance in life, on the professional front, on the academic front, and on the networking front.
Yet what is the army’s role today? To be a means used by the education minister to fund schools, a means for pulverizing haredim and Arabs, and a type of Russian roulette – there is a real chance that someone will abuse a young soldier, harass a female soldier, or that heaven forbid a soldier will be abducted and not return.
The words uttered by the defense minister, who slammed the whining of young people facing conscription and hoping to return home alive are a warning sign to Israeli society: Our young people are intelligent, vital, and hold plenty of hopes for the future. Such youngsters will not serve a state that is unwilling, even for appearances’ sake, to show concern for the individuals willing to risk their lives for it and that abandons its citizens and soldiers during times of crisis. They will seek, and find, a way out.
We will no longer be interested in being the one who sacrifices and serves, because all of us will become fed up with paying the price if our leadership and state is unwilling to pay it.
Tammy Molad-Hayou, the Israeli Center for Social Justice