Photo: Knesset website
Avshalom Vilan
Photo: Knesset website
Time for change
IDF pledge of allegiance should be modified in line with changing realities
The IDF General Staff order from 1948 says that every soldier who receives his or her personal weapon will make the following pledge: "I swear and obligate to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel, its laws, and authorities, to accept upon myself unconditionally the authority of the Israel Defense Force, obey all the orders and instructions given by authorized commanders, devote all my energies, and even sacrifice my life for the protection of the homeland and liberty of Israel."


Secular soldiers pledge allegiance by saying "I swear," while religious soldiers use the phrase "I declare." I believe that after 60 years of independence, the time has come to rethink the wording of this pledge so that it becomes commensurate with the spirit of our times.


The first required change, in light of the incitement and legitimization of insubordination on the part of West Bank rabbis, which constitutes a crime for all purposes, is to add the word "only" following the sentence "obey all the orders and instructions given by authorized commanders." This will make it clear to every new recruit who receives his weapon that he should only receive instructions and orders from his direct commanders, and from them alone, rather than from his rabbis, Hassidic leaders, or gurus.


This is yet another link in the chain aimed at strengthening the IDF and guaranteeing its unity, which is continuously being cracked. If I were Iranian President Ahmadinejad or Hizbullah leader Nasrallah, I would send a fat check to West Bank rabbis, who are making the greatest contribution to the undermining of the IDF and the weakening of the only defense force standing between them and us.


The second change has to do with the sentence regarding sacrificing one's life. None of the new recruits and combat soldiers seeks to die. The young people who join the army are called upon to do their best and give their all for the sake of defending the homeland and the State of Israel. They are not soldiers in the Roman army, where the troops would pass before the emperor ahead of battle and declare that those who are going to die salute you.


'Longest journey begins with first step'

Our soldiers are fighting in order to live. Those who give their all may pay for it with their lives. This is the cruelty of war. Yet this is not a positive element that should be used to educate youngsters to serve. Therefore, I propose that the wording be changed and instead of saying "to sacrifice my life for the homeland" new recruits would pledge to "dedicate all my energies and capabilities and give my all for the sake of protecting the homeland." The parents present at such ceremonies will also feel better about this.


Moreover – instead of the collective pledge where all solders in the platoon pledge their allegiance, I propose that upon receiving the weapon from the commander, soldiers will sign a pledge of allegiance in person. This will constitute the signing of a personal contract between the new recruit and the State of Israel and all this entails.


That way we can make sure that insubordinate soldiers who consider the option of refusing orders for political reasons of any kind would know that they are violating a contract between themselves and their country and are personally responsible for that. Hiding behind the backs of rabbis and various Kabbalists would become more difficult in principle.


After six decades of mandatory service, with the percentage of draft dodgers on the rise and reserve service being performed by only a small group instead of the entire people, and with the first organized attempt in two generations to undermine the very legitimacy of IDF commanders to issue orders that a minority group does not like, there is a need for fresh thinking on a fundamental level and an adjustment of the pledge of allegiance to a changing reality.


This is a symbolic educational act, but as Mao Tse Tung said, "a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step."


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