Thursday, March 19, 2009


Yesterday I was invited by 'my' liaison officer to a ceremony in which a number of reserve soldiers will be officially discharged from reserve duty. To be honest, I never was very much of a soldier, I just turned up whenever they called me and did my ( guard ) duty. Tens of thousands of pages - written by Grisham, Clancy, Mak, 't Hart, Grossman, Oz, Lewis, Friedman, Morris and others - I read while sitting next to the gate of an army base in the Negev dessert, in the middle of nowhere, with an M16 on my lap. I leave the service as a first sergeant (res.). Pretty impressive, huh? Yesterday I also read about some of the ugly excesses that took place during Israel's most recent war in Gaza. It is very uncomfortable to read stuff like that, but kol hakavod to Ha'Aretz for exposing this phenomenon and publishing stories about it. I am not a sociologist nor ( as can be understood from the above ) an expert in military matters, but based on what I see and hear - around me, in Israeli media - and what I know about Israel's history, I cannot avoid the impression that there is some connection between on the one hand the blurring of moral standards in Israeli society as a whole - and in the army, which still is a reflection of that society, even though it is not a people's army in the same way as it used to be - and, on the other, the fact that so many of our soldiers have learnt being a soldier while playing cops and robbers with both terrorists and civilians in the territories. I assume a similar connection exists somehow between the occupation and some of the failures in Israel's wars during the last thirty years. Much more has happened in and around Israel than that bloody occupation alone, you can not blame all this country's ills to its settlement policies and all that they entail, but that the occupation corrupts and destroys Israel in many ways remains clear to me. PS: The latest scandal involving the IDF - and yes, it is a scandal, an outrage, something for which I cannot come up with a reasonable excuse - only strengthens my feelings of anger and frustration. There are so many incidents and affairs like this one that whoever hates us does not have to make any serious effort to claim that there is a pattern. It becomes virtually impossible - not that it ever was easy to begin with - to 'sell' to the world that Israel has higher moral standards than its enemies. And I cannot help thinking that that a serious lack of morality among some of our soldiers is one of the reasons why Israel basically has not won a war in an unequivocal way since 1967. Don't get me wrong: I do not blame the soldiers, this is mainly if not totally our so-called leaders' responsibility. As long as the latter do not have the common sense and/or courage to make necessary decisions, send the army into battle without clear goals, are busier with backstabbing than with fighting the war, expect military commanders to tell them what they want to hear rather than what the reality dictates, etc. etc., you cannot expect the soldiers not to be confused, bitter, cynical and frustrated.

No comments: