Thursday, October 05, 2006

Once the IDF used to be an undisputed part of the Israeli consensus. It also was considered one of the most professional, competent and powerful armies in the world. Of course politics have always played a role in the ways in which things were decided and done in Israel's army, not only because of the fact that the army is such a central part of Israeli society but also because of the role of former officers in the country's politics. I cannot help wondering why generals like Yiftah Ron-Tal and rabbi Yisrael Weiss, who today - right before or after their retirement, one year after the disengagement - openly question or criticize that disengagement plan and its implementation, did not offer their resignation a little more than one year ago. Could it be that they felt that a year ago the public mood was not in the favor of the settlers, whereas today it is not in favor of the government? Or could it be that they cherished the benefits that come with properly finishing a long military career - as opposed to the penalties that I suppose are a result of quiting before your contract is fully served - more than their principles? I have my doubts about Dan Halutz as a leader, but general Ron-Tal's completely ignoring the chief of staff's repeated orders to appear for a meeting and a disciplinary hearing is a matter of subordination, or am I mistaken? Obviously his 'brave' actions receive a lot of feedback from the often frustrated people who get their own back by filling out feedback forms on various websites, but sorry, men like Yiftah Ron-Tal are not the kind of leaders that we need to get us out of the mess we find ourselves in. Once, before the army became a symbol of the divisions that weaken Israeli society and when no officer dared to publicly make utterly political statements, very few high-ranking officers who retired into politics joined a rightwing party. Most ex-generals could be found in the Labor party. Today - when not only the army has become more politicized than ever before but also one of the first commands that soldiers learn is "kisuy tahat", or covering your ass - more and more colonels and generals flirt with or are welcomed or courted by parties like Likud and the National Union right after or - as in the case of Ron-Tal - even before they take off their uniforms.

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