Yoaz Hendel
Barak is right
Defense minister’s tough approach to ‘insubordinate rabbi’ called for

In the previous century, German Poet Bertolt Brecht wrote: "General, man is very useful. He can fly and he can kill. But he has one defect: He can think."


It appears that in the heat of battle regarding the hesder yeshivas and with all the talk of insubordination, the tables have turned in the State of Israel – the Left, which usually encourages thinking soldiers and which saw no wrong in people supported by the State of Israel spitting into the well they drink from, has suddenly been overcome by uncompromising self-righteousness when it discovered that some “thinkers” have a big kippa on their head.


On the other hand we are seeing rightists, who traditionally endorse military solutions for almost any Middle Eastern conflict, turning into silent lambs in the face of Rabbi Melamed’s statements and views. That same silent majority within the religious-Zionist camp that serves and leads the army is saying nothing, even though it fully understands that no military in the world can be premised on independent thoughts instead of orders.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s decision to end the special arrangement with the Har Bracha Yeshiva, and the various reactions from both ends of the political spectrum, mostly attest to confusion among the people here. The person who said that Jews need a good crisis in order to understand what the ears refuse to hear was apparently right.


As members of the Left never heard of producers of anti-Israel films that were funded by the Culture Ministry or realized that we have post-Zionist lecturers whose salaries are subsidized by taxpayers, the following words are meant for the other camp: A reminder to those who realize that there is no Land of Israel without an army that defends the people of Israel.


Part of the system  

The meaning of the word “arrangement” is a custom that is determined via negotiations – a sort of unofficial contract between two sides that choose to resolve disagreements through a series of understandings. The problem with contracts (regardless of their type) is that there is no lawyer who has ever been able to provide a solution, in advance, to all future difficulties. Murphy’s Law works overtime especially in respect to long-term planning. This is the reason why every successful arrangement is premised on plenty of goodwill and a sense of commitment by both sides.


The system of the hesder yeshivas in the 1950s was a significant milestone in the attitude of national-religious Israelis to the State. It was an agreed-upon bridge between religion and the pioneering secularism of the Palmach underground, which turned into the IDF. Those who chose to be part of this arrangement chose to be part of the system and part of a package deal where the members of certain yeshivas get extra rights in exchange for quality, loyalty, and goodwill.


Any rabbi, lecturer, media personality or public leader is allowed to voice their civilian opinion. Our friends from the other camp usually strictly adhere to this rule. However, those who choose to be part of the system and be part of an arrangement that was determined in advance must be subjected to the system’s missions.


When we are dealing with an army, this logic requires extra strictness. We can engage in an in-depth debate regarding the army’s role in the evacuation of communities (these days the Knesset is being presented with a bill that is supposed to limit this,) and we can even discuss the legality of certain orders, but one cannot do this from inside the house, when one is part of the system and of the arrangement.


Ehud Barak did what the sane Right should have demanded. Now, all that’s left is to demand of him the same determination and assertiveness towards other “thinkers” as well.


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