Thursday, May 19, 2016

Senior IDF Officers Wake Up on the "Left" Side of the Bed

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen 
Dean of the Zomet Institute

Stepping to the Left

What do the following have in common, aside from the fact that they were all Chief or Deputy Chief of Staff of the IDF, heads of the Security Services or the Mossad (or something similar): Shaul Mofaz, Gabi Ashkanazi, Benny Gantz, Amnon Lipkin, Dan Chalutz, Yair Golan, Ami Ayalon, Meir Dagan, Yaacov Perry, Yuval Diskin. Some people would add Boogie Yaalon to the list and others who we left out, and my apologies to them. (And what about Ezer Weizmann or David Ivri?) The answer to this question is: pulling the "security policy" to the left, often to the very margins of public opinion and sometimes in a zigzag – but definitely to the left... Some of this respected list of people actually joined the leftist camp in Israel after they removed their uniforms or are currently being given offers to join this camp. Some of them identify with the left in their ideas and their social relationships. All of them have made declarations at various times which attacked the rightist side of the spectrum, each in their own way and at their own time.

I can just see how I will be vilified for this statement: "What did you, a very minor figure, contribute to the security of our nation? What medals decorate your chest (except for the medals of the Six Day and the Yom Kippur Wars which were distributed to all the soldiers who participated in them)? What right do you have to speak up, a tiny midget in the face of the giants of the security enterprise?" My reply to these claims is simple: I am not trying to say anything at all in the realm of professional security matters. My criticism is in the realm of nationalism, with respect to the concept of "occupation," concerning the lack of faith in the righteousness of our path, having to do with exaggerated understanding of the rights of our enemies, and defense of post-Zionism. I have every right to sound the alarm bell about these matters!

The most prominent and recent example of this effect is the speech by the current Deputy Chief of Staff of the IDF, who in my opinion stirred up the vast majority of our nation, except perhaps for the readers of Haaretz. (This newspaper marches to the tune and the joy of our oppressors and those who would boycott us. As far as I know, it appears to me that this paper is distributed to every general in the IDF, while its English translation is sent to all of our international enemies.) On Memorial Day for Heroes and Martyrs, General Yair Golan declared that he identifies within the current society in Israel the existence of "sickening processes which took place in Europe in general and in Germany in particular seventy or eighty years ago." He feels that there is in Israel today "incitement which will lead to moral deterioration, since after all nothing is easier than to hate a stranger..." It is not very clear what he means, and to which incitement he is referring, with some reasonable proportion. Evidently his superior combat skills leave something to be desired when he is standing at a microphone or sitting at a keyboard preparing a speech. In any case, even if he "didn't mean it" and his words "were taken out of context," as he quickly noted in an apology, they remain in my eyes symptomatic of the typical approach in the leadership of the IDF staff.

Socialist Left and Nationalistic Left

We must in any case admit the truth: The IDF, the Palmach, the "illegal" Aliyah, and other clandestine operations were born in the bosoms of the socialistic left, and we clearly owe them our thanks for this debt. The kibbutzim and historical Mapai were part of the leftist side, opposing the Revisionists, followers of Jabotinsky and his colleagues, and the security experts grew up from among their ranks. The State of Israel grew up "on the left, " and at the time this was the support which carried Zionist ideology, the settlement movement, security enterprises, and the challenges of Aliyah and absorption. David Ben Gurion, Yisrael Galili, Yigal Yadin, Moshe Dayan, and many other stalwarts of security before and after them stemmed from these roots, from the socialistic left, which was also deeply involved in settlement activity. The youth movements which contributed most at the national level tended to be on the leftist side. With respect to security matters, they were identified with activist nationalism and with a strong belief in the path of waging war leading to conquest of the Arabic enemy, which was competing with us for the land which belonged to our fathers, the land which served as the cradle of the Tanach.

Among all the transformations which the State of Israel went through, the generals of the IDF and the heads of the security establishment experienced a reversal between leftist socialism and leftist politics. This phenomenon is linked by the umbilical cord to the "post-" generation, which by definition justifies the side of the enemy, and has serious doubts about our own righteousness. Such phrases as "the burden of the occupation" and "the rights of the stranger" are common today. "The land of our fathers and the cradle of the Tanach" are archaic words which no longer seem relevant.

Americanization and Legal Excess

I am afraid that the national devaluation which has taken root among the leaders of the IDF and the security forces stems from two other sources, both of which are very serious in my eyes. First is the career path of the senior officers, in the American style. Just look at the machinations and intrigue before every senior appointment in the IDF, and the subsequent resignations of the unsatisfied people. "Professionalism" of the military has replaced the challenge of a national mission and the goal of defeating the Palestinian enemy. Second, I fear that the security "left-face" is advancing in tandem with excess legalism which has taken over the security forces. It would seem that such questions as "What will the foreign nations say?" and "What about the international court in the Hague?" are on the minds of the heads of our security forces. Is there anybody who still remembers the once-famous quote from Ben Gurion: "What the Gentiles say does not matter. What matters is what the Jews do."

Is there any possibility that we will experience "enhanced religion" leading to greater faith within the IDF, as a solution to these problems? I am not talking about the questions of women singing or growing beards, but rather a return to faith as it appears within the Tanach. It seems clear that the Education Division of the IDF will not rise up to this challenge! Rather, it will discard any such idea with contempt!

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