Soldiers protest evacuation
Photo: Asaf Farid

Politicizing the IDF

IDF not an auxiliary police force to be used at whim of defense minister

Condemning IDF soldiers who refuse to expel Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria as "contravening the values of the IDF" begs the question; what are the values and what is the role of the IDF?


That soldiers should refuse such orders because it is "against Halacha," is arguable. Refusing an order that has nothing to do with military or strategic concerns, however, is not a question of Halacha!


Ordering the IDF to evacuate Jewish communities and destroy homes and property directly violates the IDF's own Code of Ethics. "The goal of the IDF is to protect the existence of the State of Israel and her independence, and to thwart all enemy efforts to disrupt the normal way of life in Israel."


The IDF is not an auxiliary police force, to be used at the whim of the defense minister. Orders which are politically motivated may be technically "legal," but they undermine the IDF's morale and raison d'etre.


Refuse orders? Not when the objective is related to security or military, not when you are ordered to defend and protect Israel. Destroying Jewish homes, however, evicting Jews and beating up children is not the job of the IDF. We need to understand this distinction.


The IDF's purpose is to protect its citizens against our enemies. Who is "the enemy" in Jewish communities and how are they a threat to our well-being and security?


This is especially important since the decision to evict Jews is not sanctioned by the government, cabinet or Knesset. Although the military governor and defense minister have this power under "Emergency Regulations" handed down from the British Mandate, it was intended to be used in extreme cases to stop terrorism – not against innocent civilians who have committed no crime.

Using the IDF to carry out a highly controversial government policy, like evacuating Jews from their homes, has no military purpose. The misuse of IDF soldiers in such actions, therefore, is a direct blow to Israeli democracy, the IDF itself and our soldiers. The "our" is critical.


They are us

As a citizen army, IDF soldiers are conscripted; they serve with pride and without question. The IDF's strength and character are rooted in their mission to protect us. Its morale depends on the fact that we are proud of their sacrifices and support them wholeheartedly. Their battlers are ours – and so are their losses.


We pray for and celebrate them because they are us. That is why we encourage them to act on their conscience. Refusing to serve immoral, non-military and non-strategic orders takes courage; it's an honor.


At other times in history soldiers have pleaded, "But we were just following orders." That is no excuse for committing atrocities and immoral acts - no matter what the "law" says.


Soldiers who protest the politicization of the IDF have raised an important question, one that is at the core of every democratic society: how should one protest what they believe is an abuse of "the law" and a violation of the role and values of the army?


The danger to the integrity of the IDF is not from those who question and protest what they believe to be unjust, but from those who are insensitive to the reasons for that protest.


"Following orders" is not an excuse, or substitute for acting as a human being and as a Jew. Not following orders in the service of reason and conscience can be the highest form of moral action.


פרסום ראשון: 11.22.09, 11:01
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