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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I usually hate being told I'm wrong...

... but in this case I am actually inviting - begging even! - someone to step up and tell me where I've missed something here, and that I'm totally wrong.

Here, as usual I'm getting ahead of myself... so let me start at the beginning:

When the State of Israel was founded, the leadership had to come up with a solution for balancing the young state's pressing defense needs against the basic economic need to allow the citizens do something besides serve in the army (i.e. go to work). 

The country on which Israel chose to model its military structure was Switzerland. 

Switzerland, it turns out, requires that it's citizens perform a relatively short mandatory military service, followed by an extended period of reserve obligation.  This allows the country to field a small standing army, yet have the ability to rapidly call up a much larger, well trained, reserve force in case of national emergency (i.e. a war).

For decades this model has worked well for Israel despite the exemptions given to certain sectors of the population such as Arabs, religious Jewish women and Haredi men who are actively engaged in yeshiva study [it should be pointed out that most religious men perform army service] and that many religious women opt to perform some sort of civilian national service.]. 

However, over the past couple of decades, the Israeli Army has faced a growing problem of draft dodging among citizens who would not normally be eligible for the exemption or deferment mentioned above.   

A very small number of these are actual draft dodgers (in the classic Vietnam-era sense) in that they leave the country and go live with friends/relatives abroad rather than allow themselves to be drafted into the IDF.   But most who wish to avoid service remain in Israel and receive exemptions based on various easily obtained disqualifications ranging from 'ideological reasons' to 'mental instability'.

In order to try to counter this trend and increase the number of draft-eligible Israelis who actually serve, the IDF has begun a program of sending officers to speak at high schools in order to explain to the students the importance of performing military service, and to encourage kids to shoulder their share of the national defense responsibility when their time comes to be inducted. 

I should interject here that there are an incredible range of non-combat roles in the IDF so we're not talking about glorifying war or pressuring kids to be heroes.

Well, apparently there's a group of 'activists' calling themselves "New Profile" who have taken exception to what they deem an "inappropriate militarization of Israeli society" as well as what they call the attempted 'brainwashing' of Israeli high school students by IDF officers. 

In order to protest these things, the group is planning on dressing up as IDF officers and literally 'washing'  large models of brains in front of Tel Aviv's Ironi Alef High School, which reportedly has one of the highest draft-dodging rates in the country.

Here are some quotes attributed to Lotahn Raz, one of the organizers of the 'New Profile' protest (followed by my take):

"I think the fact that military officers have free access to schools exploits the status of soldiers and the status of schools."

First off, Lotahn, since the government funds the schools, it seems to me that it also has the right to establish the curriculum... including allowing occasional visits by government officials to discuss matters related to civics, law, defense and shared national responsibility.  Would you object to a policeman visiting a school to discuss drunk driving or using illegal drugs?  Do you object to any other aspects of the school curriculum... or just this?

"We want to reach out to students across the country and tell them that they have an opportunity to think differently. We also want to reach out to the larger Israeli public and tell them that the army should not play a part in our schools."

It seems to me that if the government can send police officers into schools to discuss law enforcement issues such as drunk driving and using drugs, it also has the right to send representatives of the military into schools to discuss matters related to the national service which all of the students are required to perform (or show cause why they should be exempt).  You aren't really asking students to "think differently".  You are encouraging them to break the law and avoid national service.

"The issue isn't about enlistment, but about the army putting pressure on students to enlist."

Um, yes it is about enlistment... just as an occasional visit from a policeman/woman to the classroom is intended to apply gentle pressure to the kids not to break other laws, an occasional lecture by an IDF officer about the importance of not dodging the draft seems an acceptable amount of pressure to me.  I don't see the problem here.

"The army is something that they need to think about... It shouldn't be an automatic decision. But the army coming in and exploiting their position of power is brainwashing."

No, this is exactly where your logic falls apart.  You don't encourage people to think about obeying the law... you encourage them to do so as a matter of reflex.  Like drunk driving and using illegal drugs, draft dodging is not something that kids should be encouraged to think about... and following the law should be an automatic decision.  If you have a problem with the law, by all means try to change it.  That's called living in a democracy.  But encouraging people to break the law is called anarchy... and blaming your potential failure on 'brainwashing' by government representatives is just wrong-headed on too many levels to count!

"The army is a hierarchical organization... It doesn't have respect for life, and they have no regard for the equality of women. It encourages following orders instead of individual thinking."

Yes, Virginia, the army is a hierarchical organization. And yes they do encourage following orders and discourage individual thinking.  Otherwise in wartime people die in horrifically large numbers.  To me, that demonstrates an enormous respect for life.    You should know this but alas, you yourself dodged army service based on the old stand-by; 'ideological reasons'.  As to the equality of women, I defy you to show me another military in the world whose female soldiers hold a larger percentage of combat, technical and intelligence roles than those serving the IDF.

"[The IDF has] brought us constant conflict with our neighbors.

No, actually our neighbors have brought us constant conflict.  The IDF, on the other hand, is the only reason those conflicts haven't ended with the destruction of your country and the untimely death of little old you.

"The military's presence in schools is reminiscent of countries we'd rather not like to think of ourselves as. If there is a change in the attitude of young people and Israeli society in general about the military, maybe that's what needs to be heard."

I'm curious what you imagine would happen if your bit of 'street theater' succeeded beyond your wildest expectations and all high school graduates suddenly began opting not to serve in the IDF.  Do you imagine it would be like those 1960s-era posters that said "What if they gave a war and nobody came?"  Do you really think that the next time one (or more) of our neighbors 'gives a war' they won't remember to show up?

I'm asking - no begging - for someone to please tell me what I've missed here.  Does this guy really have a point I'm missing?

Posted by David Bogner on March 26, 2008 | Permalink


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Come on, David. The guy has a point, and it's pretty obvious.

You both would agree that the State was founded on the values that you described. He just doesn't agree with those values, so he doesn't want the army encouraging them. I think that view is suicidal, but that doesn't mean I can't see why he's saying what he's saying.

Perhaps, l'havdil, it would be like someone (Protester #2) saying that the country was founded by secular people, and the state continues to promote secular values in the schools. For someone who believed in those secular values, he could legitimately say that the country was founded on them. But that doesn't deny Protester #2 the right to protest. And the reverse of this example is also true - the country was founded by Jews with Jewish values. So someone could protest Jewish values being taught in the schools.

Bottom line, let's say we disagree with their values. It's a bit much to say we don't understand why someone who disagrees with us would protest.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Mar 26, 2008 2:05:12 PM

Trep: You're right.

Dave (Balashon): I don't think anyone is saying that we don't understand why he would protest. I understand why. I just think he should trip and fall in front of a moving truck.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Mar 26, 2008 3:22:53 PM

Because it doesn't sound noble-minded to simply state that I am too cowardly to join the military myself. I must convince myself that what I am doing is high-minded and morally superior, and if what I do is the right thing, then I must insist that others follow my lead.

Besides, I can't get to sleep at night if I'm always thinking about what a wuss I am.

Posted by: Mark Patterson | Mar 26, 2008 4:31:04 PM

Dave(balashon): I think that the point being made is that the army is a necessity - we can debate about the secular or religious nature of the state until the cows come home, but the army has proved numerous times in the last sixty years to be necessary, and not, as these people seems to think, something that we can decide about having or not. Ideally, of cousre, Israel would have no army and no conscription, but we do not now and nor have we ever had that decision to make.

Posted by: David, UK | Mar 26, 2008 4:34:21 PM

I feel that everyone living in Tel Aviv should be required to spend one month in S'derot and then decide on military service.

Posted by: dave | Mar 26, 2008 5:08:50 PM

I've read their charter and I find it disturbing in that it makes assumes that Israel has chosen to be a militaristic society. These moonbats completely ignore the belligerent intentions of the arab world for over a century.
They are, of course, entitled to their opinion, however the line must be drawn at inciting anarchy. I completely agree with you that if they want change they should do it within the guidelines of democracy. It's imperfect, but it's the best we have.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Mar 26, 2008 5:20:28 PM

to go a little off topic, what do people have against people in Tel Aviv? Is the rest of the country filled with rough humble honest religious tough brave soldier/settler types, and Tel Aviv isn't? Cut them a break, really now. How about we nominate a city a week to bash on. I'm sure the people in Herziliya love a good latte as much as the Tel Avivians, how about we hate on them this week instead?


while on the one hand I kinda agree that government school means you are free to government propoganderise in schools as much as you like (which explains why my Jewish husband can sing Die Stem - the old afrikaans bit of the south african anthem, and can recite both the prayers our father and hail mary), on the other hand I do so see the product of the army. A lot of very intelligent very skilled young Israelis, but who really have trouble with individual thinking. It seems a small price to pay though given all the good we get from having an army.

Posted by: Katherine | Mar 26, 2008 5:57:44 PM

How relevant is this group? Is it like the Neturei Karta gang visiting Ahmadinejad -- which was more spectacle than important, or like the few burqa-wearing students of Rabbanit Keren?
If they are inconsequential I wouldn't worry my pretty little head over it.

Posted by: ronald | Mar 26, 2008 6:47:45 PM

A couple questions: how do the students react to these people ? Do they roll their eyes (I hope)
would you want these clowns in the off anyway?

Posted by: yehudit | Mar 26, 2008 7:30:36 PM

off = IDF but my iphone doesnt know that.

Posted by: yehudit | Mar 26, 2008 7:42:43 PM

It is always a struggle to jump into these discussions, not being Israeli, never having been there, and never having experienced anything close to a war, but I have a question:

"there are an incredible range of non-combat roles in the IDF"

That being true, is there a guarantee that one can CHOOSE that type of roll? Or if the SH*T really hits the fan, could one find oneself on the firing end of a rifle being asked to kill another human?

Just curious. Those rolls exist, but is it realistic to be exempted from combat?

Posted by: nrg | Mar 26, 2008 7:48:48 PM

When I was in high school in the Washington, DC area, representatives of the US Army were regularly in my school, talking to history classes and setting up information stands in the cafeteria. And in the US, military service isn't even required. So I don't see the problem with it in Israel. Or maybe it's just that I'm old-fashioned and believe very much in service in the IDF. I just wish they would take female immigrants in their 20s.

Posted by: Lena | Mar 26, 2008 8:04:12 PM

nrg to my limited knowledge - someone else can back me up here - it is difficult, rather than easy, to get into a combat unit. Getting into one is seen as quite prestigious and you have to have scored highly on a number of tests - psych, physical, etc. It doesn't just happen.

Posted by: Katherine | Mar 26, 2008 8:04:51 PM

I know someone here in NYC moving back to Israel at age 37. He served in the idf ss a young man and is still very fit, but would not be allowed into combat service again.

Speaking of military personnel in schools this week a high school in Minnesota cacelled a program by Iraq vets, one of whom was a grad of the school - BUT about 100 students and parents skipped school to attend their progam elsewhere on town.

Posted by: yehudit | Mar 26, 2008 8:21:17 PM

Some people prefer to live life in a fantasy world in which people act solely upon logic and reason.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 26, 2008 8:44:37 PM

Change your perspective.

The Orthodox community has it's chunk of draft dodgers. Now the Secular community has it's own chunk. More secular draft dodgers than Orthodox? No problem--there are more secular Israelis than Orthodox. Fair is fair.

And if the Secular draft dodger "innapproprate militarization" logic is faulty, I cannot say I particularly agree with the Orthodox draft dodger "We will sit on our asses and wait for G-d to save us, because that has worked so well in the past" is any better.

They are both a bunch of idiots. Draft all their asses. Better yet--let them skip the army but require them to do public service. The parks could use some cleaning.

Actually, what I would really like to see--and vote for--link State support for students at Yeshivas and Universities to army/national service. As in, if you served--you get very reduced tuition or the equivalent value of support at a Yeshiva. If not--no aid.

Posted by: Gila | Mar 26, 2008 10:44:13 PM

When I encounter this attitude in one of my acquaintances, I ask him: "If every soldier in Israel laid down his/her arms, what do you think would happen?"

I've gotten a great deal of hemming and hawing, but never a straight answer.

Posted by: Rahel | Mar 26, 2008 11:35:56 PM

"the IDF has begun a program of sending officers to speak at high schools"

The article says that three schools have been visited thus far, but doesn't say what kind of schools they were (mamlachti, dati, haredi...). If they were all like Ironi Alef, then I think Mr. Raz should have phrased his pitch differently: either visit haredi schools as well as mamlachti schools, since both have high rates of non-service, or don't visit any schools at all.

And I agree with Gila's point about tying aid to service, and would suggest that if your actual time in the army was shorter than the three years (e.g. guys in hesder or who got early release for whatever reason) or if you only did one year of sherut leumi rather than two, then your aid should be appropriately smaller than that of a person who served a full 3 years (men) or 2 years (women).

Posted by: Mich | Mar 27, 2008 3:35:42 AM

Katharine - The tests that you refer to are for elite units. The vast majority of combat personnel serve in combat units such as armor, infantry, artillery etc.. In these units no special tests are conducted and it is enough to be healthy to be drafted into these units.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Mar 27, 2008 5:27:46 AM

The fact is: you're on the bloodied front-line of Jihad (as are, also, India [see Kashmir], Thailand [see the southern provinces], Philippines [see southern provinces], Timor Lorosae, Ethiopia, Serbia, Russia [see Chechnya, Dagestan, Ossetia - remember Beslan?]). You are an embattled outpost of the non-Muslim world - to use an image from Tolkien, you are Minas Tirith, Tower of Guard; to use an image from Rowlings, you are the Order of the Phoenix, fighting off an endless onslaught of Death Eaters.

Dodging the draft is a luxury no Israeli citizen dare afford, if Israel is still to exist 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now. Re-read the story of Orde Wingate, for inspiration. Then read Robert Spencer's 'Onward Muslim Soldiers' to know the mindset you're up against & where it comes from; read Bat Yeor, 'The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam', and Andrew Bostom, 'Legacy of Jihad' to know the full horror of what will happen, if you lose.

Meanwhile, to know what Jews in the Islamosphere historically had to deal with, being dhimmis, here's one sample of the Islamic mindset vis a vis the dhimmi, that I found in an article by Andrew Bostom, 'Losing our Soul to the Islamintern', 22.3.08. It makes one physically ill - it's like Big Brother in Orwell's 1984, or the Nazis - and it's absolutely typical, I've run across other things like it in other Islamic texts, a supremacism and obsessive drive to annihilate/ break the will of the perceived 'Other', that is bone chilling:

"Describing unabashedly the purpose of the Koranic poll tax (as per Koran 9:29) of submission for non-Muslims brought under Islamic hegemony by jihad, Ibn Ajibah [18C Moroccan Sufi ‘master’] makes clear the ultimate goal of its imposition was to achieve what he called the death of the “soul”, through the dhimmi’s execution of their own humanity:
QUOTE: [The dhimmi] is commanded to put his soul, good fortune and desires to death. Above all he should kill the love of life, leadership and honor. [The dhimmi] is to invert the longings of his soul, he is to load it down more heavily than it can bear until it is completely submissive. Thereafter nothing will be unbearable for him. He will be indifferent to subjugation or might. Poverty and wealth will be the same to him; praise and insult will be the same; preventing and yielding will be the same; lost and found will be the same. Then, when all things are the same, it [the soul] will be submissive and yield willingly what it should give. [Tafsir ibn ‘Ajibah. Commentary on Q9:29. Ahmad ibn Muhammad Ibn `Ajibah]."

THIS is what you are up against. This is why your children, girls and boys, need to know how to fearlessly bear arms and use them in a just cause. Given that you reject Islam - you choose to be Jews - then Islam teaches Muslims to impose on you either that nothingness, that death of the soul, which is dhimmitude - or to kill you. And so you must fight. And until and unless the Arabs, Turks, Persians, etc., abandon Islam, they will keep on trying to crush or kill you and you will have to keep on fighting.

The IDF defies Arab imperialism and Arab/ Islamic supremacism: by defending the lives and honour of Jews; by reacting against Muslim assault and insults rather than passively submitting in silence; by defending your right as human beings to NOT be treated as 'things'; by defying those Muslim jihadis and jihad enablers who are trying to crush and erase your soul. Ibn Ajibah and those like him display all the psychopathy of a sadist, of an abusive parent or spouse - or a slavemaster - trying to annihilate their victim whether physically or spiritually, to turn the victim into an inert, nonreactive thing that may be used and abused at will.

Every time Israel punishes a Muslim jihadi assault, it breaks out of the ghastly 'dhimmi' paradigm. Terrifyingly, at the moment I see your leaders, for whatever reason, falling more and more into the dhimmi pattern - total nonreaction even to the most extreme insult to body and soul. I only hope Israel as a whole can snap out of this dangerous pattern, fast.

I may add that, as an Australian living in a small country [pop 20 million] slap bang up against rapidly Islamising Indonesia [pop 210 million, 80% Muslim, rotten with murderous jihad outfits like Laskar Jihad, Jamaah Islamiya, etc.] I've begun to think we Aussies would be wise to take a leaf out of Israel's book re. military training for our young people and preparedness for homeland defence, for sooner or later the Jihad will assail our shores, also.

Posted by: S McCosker | Mar 27, 2008 5:46:44 AM

I read that the decision to join the army needs to be carefully considered. Students cannot jump to conclusions. I agree. Joining the army should be based upon principles such as the right of citizenship. If the law says that one must join the army, then not doing so represents a shirking of responsibility. The shirkers profit substantially from the non-shirkers' willingness to obey the law. As in the Vietnam experience in America, shirkers should consider leaving the country so as not to profit from the sacrifices of the non-shirkers. That seems fair. Mental instability should require a period of national service to prevent unfair advantage accruing to people who are not really mentally unstable. Principled opting-out of military service should require some form of national service longer than military service so as not to encourage rationalization of "principled" objecting to army service. Failure to perform some form of national service should limit societal opportunities up to and including loss of citizenship. There is no free lunch, nor has there ever been, except for forms of robbery.

Posted by: jerry | Mar 27, 2008 8:24:05 AM

lotahn doesn't seem to recognize that if we put down our arms allowing her to say to our "idf-antagonized" neighbors, "come give me a hug," she'll wind up being choked to death.

Posted by: nikki | Mar 27, 2008 8:56:59 AM

The point about visiting haredi AND secular schools was a good one. Note to the government--put your money where your mouth is. Either draft-dodging is illegal or it ain't. If it is okay for the Haredim, it is okay for everyone. And if it is not okay for the Haredim, get rid of the d**n yeshiva deferments and drop the boom on everyone.

But to continue to tell one group that their ideological objection is okay (and should, in fact, be rewarded) while punishing another? Really not acceptable. Not to mention, not good for the country.

Posted by: Gila | Mar 27, 2008 11:40:27 AM

Dave (Balashon)... I said to tell me I'm wrong, but not at the expense of logic. Religious men and women who don't serve are not doing anything illegal. Some people may take exception to the rationale behind some of the the religious deferments and exemptions (I'm one of them), but these are within the framework of the law. You can't logically compare that to someone who is telling his peers that military service is optional.

Doctor Bean ... See, that's where we differ. I think he should act decisively and stand in front of the truck. I'm all for people who stand up for their convictions.

Mark Patterson ... That might be true if it were really about avoiding hazardous duty. But it is such an easy thing to be a 'jobnik' (what we used to call a REMF) that one can't really say this is about cowardice.

David, UK... Good point. This organizations logic only works in a vacuum. The middle east is not a vacuum.

dave... In this case I think it is wrong to pin this one on Tel Aviv. There are draft dodgers all over the country. However, statistically I think it is fair to say it is much more of a problem in the secular community than the religious. However even this is flawed since if you took away the shortened Hesder service and the other religion-based deferments and exemptions I bet the statistics would even out. No, this is a problem of today's youth not having been raised as Zionists and therefore have no sense of what right they have to be here.

QuietusLeo ... Good grief, they have a charter??? Is there a group of three idiots out there that doesn't have a charter??? I think I need to get to work on my charter right away!

Katherine ... You are right. See my response to Dave.

ronald... Relevance is, well, relative. A large group in Israel can have relatively little impact on the government. But a relatively small group can have a major impact on culture.

yehudit... I'm sure the answer to that questions depends on who you ask.
Oh, and FYI, you just gave me a serious case of phone envy.

nrg... If your physical profile is above a certain numeric level you are able to serve in a combat unit. That doesn't mean you will. And if someone really doesn't want to serve in a combat unit it is not much of a problem to secure a rear echelon job. The combat units are generally oversubscribed anyway.

Lena... What you and I would call cultural indoctrination in civics and patriotism these guys call brainwashing.

yehudit... Us older folks aren't much use to the IDF. :-)

Jack ... I wouldn't be so upset if his fantasy world operated on logic. :-)

Gila ... again, bad analogy. On the one hand you are talking about something legal (i.e. the status quo arrangement that has been in place since Ben Gurion). On the other hand you are talking about anarchy and trying to undermine the very underpinnings of our national service model. To put it another way, let's talk about paying taxes instead of military service. The religious are basically working within the law to exploit loopholes that perhaps should be tightened, if not closed in some cases. This group is saying that one need not ay taxes and that it sould be a personal choice.

Rahel... I used to do that but then someone answered, well, we'll never know until we offer them everything they want. Of course, after Camp David and Oslo that argument doesn't work very well either.

Mich ... I am also all for connecting national service and benefits. For Arabs as well as Jews.

S McCosker... Preaching to the choir. :-)

This guy is operating under the misguided assumption that military service is not compulsory.

nikki ... It'll be a hug like one would get from a python

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 27, 2008 11:59:26 AM

Gila... again, you are arguing as if the yeshiva deferments are illegal. That is not the case. You (and I) may find them distasteful and be bothered that so many take advantage of them when they are not really Torah scholars. But like people who exploit loopholes in the tax laws, you can change that from above. These guys are saying that service is optional and encouraging kids to break - not bend - the law.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 27, 2008 12:09:06 PM

Legal =right? Not always. Jim Crow laws were legal as well.

As much as I suspect that these guys do not have this in mind, it is easy to envision a scenario in which a person could make the same announcement (not to serve) but as a form of civil disobedience against an unjust state of affairs? Remember--we are not just talking about a couple extra dollars in taxes. We are talking about one group that puts its life on the line and another that does not.

To my mind, you cannot have a system like the one we have here--and NOT expect something like this to happen. It would come out here, or another way, but come at will. So long as the State effectively actively supports an ideology that says "the State can survive without me or mine serving"...than it is only a matter of time...and logic...that another group is going to say "then the State can damn well survive without my service. Why should I risk my life????"

I really believe that it is only a matter of time before people stop trying to come up with ideology...and will just refuse to serve on that basis alone. And as dangerous as that would be for us, I cannot say that I would blame them.

Posted by: Gila | Mar 27, 2008 1:33:04 PM

Incidentally--do all of those guys who get Yeshiva deferrments really study full-time, not screw around, not work under the table etc.?

In any event, legal or no, my beef is with the State that has legalized draft-dodging for a significant chunk of the population. For that matter, the guys I work with who have served do not have too much sympathy with the "well, it is okay as per the law" line. It walks, talks and acts like draft-dodging and that is what it is.

Posted by: Gila | Mar 27, 2008 1:37:43 PM

People are tired of wars, tired of the army and tired to send their sons, the best of their generation to die in wars against an irrational death-loving suicidal enemy. In a kibbutz that has contributed to Zahal almost like none other, last yom hazikaron you could hear words from bereaved parents full with bitterness, regret and also words of sheer hatred against the State of Israel as it is today.
Back then, I was shocked. Now I see things a bit different. We will have to adjust to this new situation.

Posted by: dave w. | Mar 27, 2008 6:03:53 PM

"In order to protest these things, the group is planning on dressing up as IDF officers and literally 'washing' large models of brains in front of Tel Aviv's Ironi Alef High School"

Puh-leeze. What's next? Let me guess -- giant paper-mache puppets.

Don't let the people who think (universally, talk about brain-washing) that "War is Not The Answer" get you down. Just ship 'em off to San Francisco and wash your hands of them.

You could suggest they read Solomon's Proverbs, or listen to the Byrds (A Time for War, A Time for Peace), but that'd be like trying the proverbial pig to sing, I sadly admit.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Mar 28, 2008 7:21:09 AM

Oh Dave, don't worry about it. It's all highly exaggerated. Not going in the army is still far from the norm in secular circles.

Eldest,a typical North Tel Aviv teenager if ever there was one, says its only the artsy fartsy lefty crowd who go to art schools like Ironey Aleph and Telma Yalin who are seriously considering not doing their army service.

None of her friends - and she has quite an extensive social milieux (unlike her mother) - are thinking of shirking their duty. Her boyfriend is even doing one of these private pre-army fitness preparation courses, so he can get into a good combat unit.

And as for these silly lefty groups trying to persuade people not to go into the army, we had them in our day too. Anti-Zionist 'Matzpen' activists regularly gave out pamphlets outside my high school. This was the early eighties. No one took any notice of them back then either.

Posted by: Imshin | Mar 28, 2008 11:25:38 AM

During World War II Denmark was quickly overrun by the Germans, but the Dane's (unlike the resentful French) greeted the goose-stepping Germans, not with anger, but with laughter. Everywhere a German soldier went in Denmark, Danes would stop what they were doing to point and laugh at him. Needless to say the German occupation force suffered terrible morale problems in Denmark.

People don't obey the law simply because it's the law, but because they feel that violating the law is shameful. The solution to the problem of Israel's leeches encouraging young people to join them in their parasitism isn't to enforce the law better, but to do a better job of shaming the law violators. Surely a resourceful humor-filled people like you Israelis can come up with ways to make your free-loading leftists a laughing stock.

Posted by: Bob | Mar 29, 2008 6:23:04 AM

David, let me start by saying that these guys are indeed moonbats. However, I see a problem with your reasoning:

First off, Lotahn, since the government funds the schools, it seems to me that it also has the right to establish the curriculum...
Have you ever tried to not send your kids to school, and, say, educate them at home instead? Or, for that matter: how many affordable private schools are there in Israel?

Israel has to have a strong army, it goes without saying. However, I happen to think that conscription is not the best way to maintain it. I also happen to think that the IDF "worked" well in the past (it doesn't seem to anymore) despite, not because of it.

Posted by: Alisa | Mar 29, 2008 1:46:58 PM

MAYBE, after hearing him out, and after asking a few polite questions, the kids will say "all well and good, but..." and will join up. Did anyone actually consider that possibility??

MAYBE, when a recruiting officer goes to a religious school, she'll be met by a display of people urging not to join an army that destroyed Gush Katif...

MAYBE, people feel that the IDF only serves a segment of the population..

MAYBE we should look at how many people (if any) shirked the 2nd Lebanese war, as opposed to how many people want an end to the occupation.

By the way, a lot of Jerusalem-based bloggers seem to drink a lot of latte in Emek Refaim...

Posted by: asher | Mar 31, 2008 10:46:26 AM

Alica wrote

First off, Lotahn, since the government funds the schools, it seems to me that it also has the right to establish the curriculum...
Have you ever tried to not send your kids to school, and, say, educate them at home instead? Or, for that matter: how many affordable private schools are there in Israel

Try the so-called independent system, the one which takes money (lots) from the stste, but is exempt from supervision...

Posted by: asher | Mar 31, 2008 10:55:11 AM

Asher, thank you for making my point for me (unintentionally?)

Posted by: Alisa | Mar 31, 2008 11:12:34 AM

and I thought I was going to get the last word!

Posted by: asher | Mar 31, 2008 4:32:57 PM

Not with a woman you won't:-)

Posted by: Alisa | Mar 31, 2008 5:58:03 PM

Gila... You are correct to say that legal does not always mean right. But that goes back to my point that if this group feels that the law is wrong, they should work to change it, not encourage people to break it.

dave w. ... What you describe is a symptom of a leadership that feels it is not answerable to the populace. There have been far more casualties in previous eras, but because the leadership seemed to take the casualties as hard as the families there was a sense of 'we're all in this together'. But Olmert and company acted almost randomly in their prosecution of the second Lebanon war and have adopted an equally aimless strategy with Gaza. Who in their right mind wouldn't be bitter to see lives squandered without rhyme or reason???

Wry Mouth... They would feel right at home in Berkeley.

Imshin... Good to hear.

Bob... Social pressure is sadly lacking when it comes to communal responsibility these days.

Alisa... If not conscription, what? A professional army is out of the question for both financial and manpower reasons.

asher... your comment requires parsing:

"MAYBE, after hearing him out, and after asking a few polite questions, the kids will say "all well and good, but..." and will join up. Did anyone actually consider that possibility??

I'm sure most of them do exactly that. But trends are hard to detect until it is too late.

"MAYBE, when a recruiting officer goes to a religious school, she'll be met by a display of people urging not to join an army that destroyed Gush Katif..."

Actually, after the disengagement and Amona there were many who predicted that the religious settlers would revolt and desert and refuse to serve. Guess what. All the enlistment stats from that demographic are higher than ever. Guess you didn't get the civil war you were hungering for.

"MAYBE, people feel that the IDF only serves a segment of the population.."

Maybe some people wish it did.

"MAYBE we should look at how many people (if any) shirked the 2nd Lebanese war, as opposed to how many people want an end to the occupation."

Um, maybe we should ask how many kids walk to school and how many bring their lunch! Meaning, there is no relationship between the two statements... although I'm sure you think there is. And if you really want to look at the statistical breakdown of the reservists in the combat units in that war, you might be uncomfortable at the disproportionate number of religious who showed up.

"By the way, a lot of Jerusalem-based bloggers seem to drink a lot of latte in Emek Refaim..."

You seem to have confused an affinity for a tasty hot beverage for a lack of interest in national security. I think you'll find that, not surprisingly, Jerusalem bloggers tend to skew decidedly to the right.

Alisa... Nobody gets the last word with Asher.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 31, 2008 6:22:32 PM


A professional army is out of the question for both financial and manpower reasons.
I don't see why.

Posted by: Alisa | Mar 31, 2008 6:47:56 PM

Alisa... Because the government can't afford to pay a standing army large enough to fight a war and the population can't supply enough soldiers to field a full time army large enough to fight a war. That is why they chose the Swiss model. With a small standing army that most of the population had to serve in for a short time, the financial outlay would be relatively small and in the case of war a large reserve force could be quickly deployed.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 31, 2008 10:56:08 PM

David, I am not saying that you are incorrect - I don't know. But consider this: a professional military doesn't have to be a full time standing army. A large part of it can still be comprised of reserves (this is the case in the US, as I am sure you know). There are many who think that today's IDF is too large, wasteful (and thus inefficient) anyway. As to the manpower in time of war, at worse the population will have to supply the same numbers it does now (or did in 2006). At best, it will have to supply smaller numbers, more efficiently - not least through being better motivated.

Posted by: Alisa | Mar 31, 2008 11:53:13 PM

Oh, and you need to close your italics tag:-)

Posted by: Alisa | Mar 31, 2008 11:55:47 PM

Alisa... Aside from the financial and manpower issues I raised, there is an intangible cultural and demographic issue that would be disastrous for Israel. If the army was an all volunteer force it would almost certainly cease to be the equalizing factor on Israeli society that it was intended to be. It will, instead become a force comprised of primarily of one segment of society and that will increase the sense of division that has already threatened to pull the country apart at the seams.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Apr 1, 2008 8:41:15 AM

it would almost certainly cease to be the equalizing factor on Israeli society that it was intended to be.
Has it not happened already? It seems to me that you are intent on treating symptoms rather than the core problem. Coercion causes division, true unity can only be voluntary.

I am sure you are familiar with the current American model. Do you think it is a successful one, and how is it different from ours (aside from the obvious, like size etc.)?

Posted by: Alisa | Apr 1, 2008 10:46:18 AM

Alisa... The American model, even during the draft years, was a disaster. It was too easy for the wealthy and connected to get exemptions from service so it was left to the poor and unconnected to fight the wars. This isn't new, by the way. Even during the Civil war this was the case... and it caused incredible class conflict and resentment. And no, unity cannot be achieved through volunteer participation. Only if everyone has to undergo the same unpleasant experience can there be a common thread that connects us all.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Apr 1, 2008 11:13:55 AM

even during the draft years
Surely you meant 'especially'?:-)That's why I specifically asked about the current US model.

Anyway, given your last two sentences, it looks like you and I will have to agree to disagree. I still would respectfully suggest that you give them a second thought: I sincerely hope that they don't truly represent your actual world view.

Posted by: Alisa | Apr 1, 2008 4:47:10 PM

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