Eretz Yisrael Time

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Everyone is ganging up on the Dati-Leumi these days because we see the issue of expelling Jews from their homes for political reasons to be black and white immoral and evil. Just as those on the left see serving in Judea and Samaria to be immoral.

But with the Right, everyone is talking about the army falling apart, something you really didn’t hear after the Left’s call for refusal.

Yes, there is the issue that one must follow orders in the army, and that is how the system works. That is in part why people go and kill the enemy, put their lives on the line, and take part in other normally socially unacceptable activities. But that is in defense of the country.

But when one receives an order, that is so clearly political, that is so clearly not part of your mandate to defend the country against external enemies; orders that you quite clearly see as immoral and evil, and to be quite blunt, not the reason you have agreed to risk your own life (day in and day out) on the line for everyone else, I think you have every right to refuse such an order.

Ultimately, the army works, because young (and old) people voluntarily agree to potentially give up their lives for society. If the citizens would cease to agree, then there would be no army (and State).

But in return for that potential price, the state, army and society have an obligation to not try to force any soldier to perform an act that is clearly immoral, illegal, and evil (unless that society is immoral, illegal, and evil). The question of doing something immoral, illegal, or evil in defense of the country, is of course situational. "Confirming your kill", might be considered illegal, but it is damn stupid not to do it as it puts your own life at outright risk.

Within the framework, the army has the right, and even obligation to (reasonably) punish the refuser, and expel him from the system. Of course the problem here is that so many people (perhaps even the majority that make up the army) feel this particular order is wrong and illegal that the mass refusal to follow it, so it is claimed, would cause the collapse of the army.

Personally, I think that last summer’s war proved theory that wrong.

The citizens of this country, for the most part, know the difference between right and left and right and wrong.

Despite the brutal treatment at the hands of the State, the leading soldiers in the last war, (unlike the authors of the left-wing “pilot’s letter” which was made up of retired and non-combat pilots who would never even be involved in the operations they were protesting) were those that were the most abused by the state for political reasons.

But as they know how to differentiate between illegal, immoral political orders, and defending the country against an external enemy – they showed up, despite every reason not to, and defended the country through the auspices of the army.

One gets hysterical emotional reactions when one mentions Nazi Germany and that their soldiers that were “just following orders”. In fact, it is impossible to hold a reasonable conversation with nearly anyone and make the analogy.

But the reality is that, that is exactly what happened in Germany, whether soldiers were in the concentration camps, or the “third” outer circle, those soldiers were directly or indirectly just “following orders”.

Demanding the same from Israeli soldiers, who see the issue as unquestionably wrong, places them in the same moral position.

And it is the Jewish soldier that properly refuses – as he should.

As a final thought, for most, one’s service lasts at most a few years. You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life. I wouldn’t want to live with that on my conscience for the rest of my life.


Anonymous said...

Soldiers are not supposed to act as unthinking robots. If that hadn't been obvious before, the point was certainly underscored for those of us in the post-My Lai US Army.


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