The affair involving religious soldiers stepping out of a performance at their training base because of female singers is a classic clash of two extremities. Nothing good can come out of it, only a head-on collision. On the one hand we saw military cadets who decided to be more righteous than Israel’s chief rabbi, and on the other hand we saw commanders looking for mishaps.
There is no doubt that the commanders were right to dismiss the refusenik cadets, because the army is premised on discipline. However, now we should also consider the dismissal of the commanders who led us into this abyss.
Not too long ago I was at a national commemoration ceremony at Mount Herzl. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar was sitting in the first row. Suddenly, without advance warning, a female in uniform walked up to the microphone and started to sing. All eyes were on the rabbi – will he be stepping out now? Yet the honorable rabbi remained seated. He looked down, and that’s it.
This was very noble of the rabbi, and he was the only person to act nobly there. Ceremony organizers behaved foolishly by failing to spare him this embarrassment. They should have decided ahead of time what to give up: The female singer or the chief rabbi’s presence.
In the abovementioned case of the cadets and the female singer, there is no question who we should give up. The IDF requires combat soldiers more than it requires female singers. In the next war, the army will be sending Golani to the front, not a military band. And Golani today comprises numerous religious soldiers.
Secular arroganceFor a while now, the IDF has not been an army of seculars only. Religious Israelis are procreating and enlisting en masse, and we must take them into consideration. If the IDF is the people’s army, then it’s also the army of the religious.
Many intellectuals are still cultivating secular arrogance around here and treating the religious as subtenants. However, these intellectuals simply failed to look out of their window in recent years. Some 42% of officer course cadets are religious these days and we even have religious division commanders and a religious deputy army chief.
The military’s cultural offerings must undergo a comprehensive reform that will adapt them to the sociological changes in the IDF. If we cannot avoid the friction between female voices and religious ears, perhaps we should be giving up our military bands. Former Army Chief Rafael Eitan already terminated them once upon a time; who was the idiot who brought them back?
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