Photo: Haim Hornstein
Students should not be targeted by IDF morale campaign
Photo: Haim Hornstein

Uneducated military

Sending IDF officers to schools to boost youngsters' motivation is a flawed practice

It’s easy to feel sorry for Brigadier General Eytan Loker, who showed up at Eroni A High School in Tel Aviv to give a motivational speech and was confronted by protesters who chained themselves to the school’s gate.


Loker probably thought he did not deserve such a welcome, and justifiably so. However, if the IDF wants to prevent its officers from experiencing such humiliations, it can simply refuse to participate in endeavors that send a dubious democratic and educational message.


Even the wording implies indoctrination 


The “Next Generation” initiative, in which senior IDF officers visit schools to boost moral and increase young adults’ desires to join the army, is basically flawed. Even the wording of the initiative’s goal calls to mind indoctrinations that are customary in dark regimes.


The IDF’s participation in such a project contradicts its own assertion that there is no motivational problem regarding recruitment to the army in general, and recruitment to combat units in particular; if there were no motivation problem, the army would not find it necessary to send its busy officers to speak to high school students.


Israeli citizens are required to serve in the army by law; they are forced to postpone their plans for two or three years, and sometimes even jeopardize these plans altogether. The reality that we live in makes compulsory army service essential. We should admire those who risk their lives or die for the sake of the general population.


However, this does not legitimize morale-boosting lectures addressed to high school students by officers in full army attire.


“We have the right to be educated by teachers, not by officers,” one 11th grade student said.


You do not have to be a brigadier general to understand this truth.


IDF initiative whitewashes dropping enlistment


The rate of recruitment to the military has dropped over the past few decades. This phenomenon is the derivative of a change in society’s values, and it also pertains to the fact the IDF discharges potential recruits when there is a surplus of eligible young adults.


The “New Generation” initiative is an attempt to whitewash this reality in the guise of “conveying the military values and the army spirit,” as IDF Spokeswoman Ruth Yaron said in response to the incident at the Tel Aviv high school.


The military code of ethics is indeed important – within the confines of the IDF. The IDF chief of staff has recently noticed signs the code is waning, so much so he felt obliged to embark on a tour of the different units to reinforce it.


It’s enough the high school students will come across the chief of staff during their military service, and those who attempt to avoid serving in the army will be dealt with according to the law.


Principal's job is to improve citizenship


Eroni A principal Ram Cohen decided to change his high school’s image as a school that comprises a large number of students who avoid military service; to this end, he organized an “army day” at the school.


Cohen’s job does not entail displaying the wonders of the armored corps or the valor of the paratroopers to his students; he is supposed to assist them in becoming better citizens, and this includes teaching them to question everything, including the military service.


Upon examination of Education Minister Limor Livnat’s approach to this issue during her tenure, it is hard to demand sensitivity from her toward this matter; however, the IDF’s top brass, which includes many capable and prudent officers, should have understood there is no place for such initiatives in schools.


Ofer Shelah is a regular commentator for newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth

פרסום ראשון: 01.19.05, 15:07
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