Sunday, August 26, 2007

Protecting the homeland

The main goal of the IDF's oath of allegiance is to protect the homeland and liberty of Israel. The withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 clearly harmed the IDF's ability to fulfill this goal,7340,L-3441974,00.html
Ron Breiman
Published: 08.26.07, 14:02 / Israel Opinion

The IDF General Staff order from 1948 says that every soldier who receives his or her personal weapon will make the following pledge: "I swear and commit to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel, its laws, and authorities, to accept upon myself unconditionally the authority of the Israel Defense Force, obey all the orders and instructions given by authorized commanders, devote all my energies, and even sacrifice my life for the protection of the homeland and liberty of Israel."

There are those who, while smashing myths and taking other actions to undermine the strength of IDF, are seeking to harm the IDF's oath of allegiance so as to blur the demands made of the soldiers. One such person is the ultra-leftist Knesset member, Avshalom "Abu" Vilan.

For those who have forgotten: This is the same MK who, in an interview with Haaretz about three years ago, said that "if they (the settlers), Heaven forbid, force us, we'll have to fire …..," and in order to demonstrate his intention he elaborated: "It will be needed to pull the trigger, slowly, responsibly, imperturbably, wisely".

This is a clear example of extreme incitement, but the weakness of the attorney general meant that Vilan (and others) were not prosecuted, and so this MK (and others) continue their ethnic-cleansing plans. In a strange article last week, Vilan suggested significantly weakening the IDF's oath of allegiance, but he refrained from dealing with important parts of the oath that do not fit his views.

The IDF's mission
One such element is the goal of the oath and, indeed, of service in the IDF: "For the protection of the homeland and liberty of Israel". This is the IDF's main mission, this is what it should be prepared for, this is what it receives its budget for and why its men and women are mobilized – and it is vital that the IDF and the country's political leadership end the phenomenon of draft-dodging – and it is for this command that soldiers take the pledge to even sacrifice their lives if the situation requires it.

The main purpose behind all the orders and commands that soldiers pledge to obey is: "For the protection of the homeland and liberty of Israel".

It follows that any other use of IDF soldiers, which is not part of this goal, and which can even damage the IDF's mission and ability to function at the critical hour is, to say the least, immoral and inappropriate.

This is especially true when the IDF becomes a political tool used against Israeli citizens. The transfer, carried out by Israel's soldiers and policemen against people who were uprooted from their homes in Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria only because they were Jews, was not only unwise from a security point of view, and not only undemocratic even if approved by a prime minister under serious suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, by a blind and corrupt government and by a Knesset applauded by a conscripted media on behalf of the "etrog" of that time (Sharon) – but this transfer also harmed the IDF's ability to fulfill its main goal: "For the protection of the homeland and liberty of Israel".

The critical hour was not long in coming: only one year later, the failure of the Second Lebanon War found an unprepared IDF which had wasted a whole year of training on preparations for a war against Israeli citizens. These preparations included brainwashing soldiers, making them forget who the true enemy is and defining Israeli citizens as the enemy.

Restricted oath
Another important part of the oath of allegiance says that IDF soldiers must "obey all the orders and instructions given by authorized commanders". Following the 1956 Kfar Qassam trial, the courts restricted the oath by giving discretion to officers and soldiers not to obey an illegal order, one that a "black flag" is waving above it.

An order of this sort would include an order to kill unarmed citizens, or a command to perform ethnic cleansing of unarmed citizens from their homes. If Vilan does not understand this, he should ask his priests, masters and teachers on the extreme left how one would refer to an illegal order to oust Arab citizens from their homes, and substitute the word "Jews" in place of "Arabs".

In 2005, I publicly called on Major-General Moshe Ya'alon, the then chief of staff, to resign in order to avoid the looming illegal transfer order and the fear of mass disobedience. Ya'alon's hesitations regarding the crime of ethnic cleansing meant he was forced out of the army and the nomination of a new chief of staff, who probably committed in advance to carry out the deed that should not be done. The crime took place in the summer of 2005, and the State of Israel is still eating its grapes of wrath. Ask the residents of the town of Sderot and its surroundings!

The public debate concerning disobedience relates mainly to religious soldiers. It is puzzling why a moral problem, which also exists in the minds of non-religious soldiers regarding a potential illegal order, is disregarded. To those who wish to give IDF a new illegal order, one that a "black flag" is waving over it, it should be pointed out that the IDF's mission and goal is: "For the protection of the homeland and liberty of Israel".

Instead of making the oath fuzzy, this goal should be re-emphasized.

The writer is a former chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel

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