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Photo: Motti Kimchi
Breaking the Silence protest. Every right to point to the grave outcomes of the occupation
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Photo: David Vinokur
Merav Betito
Photo: David Vinokur
Breaking the Silence: Our courageous gatekeepers
Op-ed: The Israeli public should be grateful for soldiers who insist on their Jewish right to maintain ethical standards during or after their military service.
You don’t really know what goes on there. It's convenient to repress the fact that our children don uniforms and turn into other children's nightmare. You don’t really know what goes on there, when a high school student enlists and finds himself shortly afterwards in the middle of the bedroom of someone else's parents in the dead of night.

 

 

You don’t really know what goes on there, when a youth movement instructor is stationed in Hebron as an operations sergeant and is afraid to say out loud: "You can't take this necklace, it belongs to someone." You don’t really know what it's like to serve in the territories.

 

And neither do I. My military service was one of the most pivotal experiences in my life. It outlined the professional road I chose, taught me about my strengths and weaknesses, shaped the way in which I look at the Israeli society and emphasized the definition of my identity as a citizen of the State.

 

The military service chapter is one of the broadest common denominators defined for us by new Zionism. Nonetheless, Israeli democracy is robbing the right of hundreds of soldiers and officer to openly speak about their service experience. The moment a military service candidate receives an accurate document dictating the insights he will receive during his period as a soldier, as well as the spectrum of feelings he will experience after seeing his best friend beating up Arabs, seems closer than ever.

 

Breaking the Silence photo exhibition. The organization's members, IDF soldiers, have been turned into the punching bag of an impassioned crowd (Photo: Reuters)
Breaking the Silence photo exhibition. The organization's members, IDF soldiers, have been turned into the punching bag of an impassioned crowd (Photo: Reuters)

 

The war, just like the military rule within Palestinian neighborhoods, is an ongoing event which affects and shapes the consciousness of anyone taking part in it - soldiers as well as citizens, adults as well as children, commanders as well as fighters. And there is no success in the groundless attempt to influence the way soldiers see events they have taken part in.

 

The destructive narrative, which sees the soldier as the sum of the government's desires - long after he has been discharged from military service - is a clear danger to the future of Israeli society. The soldier has many faces: He comes in a variety of shades and beliefs and in a wide range of lifestyles and values, and there is no point in denying the fact that just like his faces are different, so are his opinions.

 

Throughout Jewish history, including the biblical times, the Jewish people aspired to maintain their fighters' moral values and not to present them as killing machines. It is so strange, therefore, that soldiers who insist on their Jewish right to maintain ethical standards during or after their military service are accused of degrading it, and it's concerning that senior government officials, who are in charge of society's integrity, are inciting the public against them, hoping to gain political power which will preserve their place in the government.

 

In the past few weeks, members of the Breaking the Silence organization - IDF soldiers - have been turned into the punching bag of an impassioned crowd, vigorously encouraged by public representatives and journalists aiming for a patriotic democracy and marking the treacherous leftist. How is it possible that the defense minister, a former chief of staff, a former member of the Labor Movement, has come out to fulfill the mission of pushing Breaking the Silence outside the camp?

 

We are not talking about a security-related issue here, but about moral questions which encounter a difficult reality of a soldier versus a citizens. In high school classes, it isn't really possible to offer rules of thumb for the scene which "David the Nahalite" took part in, simply because there are no such rules. Every person responds differently to the crazy drama of life, and every soldier acts differently when facing a Palestinian boy with a rock in his hand.

 

The courageous soldiers from Breaking the Silence have every right to point to the grave outcomes of the occupation, and it is the Israeli public's duty to be grateful for their service as gatekeepers.

 


פרסום ראשון: 12.16.15, 23:25
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