Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What Constitutes an Illegal Order?


The definition of an illegal order in this government is, unfortunately, anything that goes against the political aspirations of left-wing politicians and their arab puppeteers.

It has little to do with morality and ethics, just as the current government has little to do with morality or ethics.

by Ezra HaLevi

( Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, the head of the hesder yeshiva in Elon Moreh, called Tuesday for a public discussion of what constitutes an illegal, and therefore refusable, order.

“Everyone agrees that refusing orders is an awful thing,” he said, “and everyone agrees that there are certain orders that a soldier is required to refuse. The question is where to draw the line.”

The rabbi argues that the whole debate over whether or not to refuse orders is superfluous, as the classification of an immoral order is taught to every IDF soldier in basic training, as the IDF’s conscious effort to differentiate itself from the functionaries of the Nazi army who had said they were “just following orders.”

The example given in basic training is that of the Kafr Kassem affair, in which soldiers opened fire on Israeli Arab farmers who were violating a curfew, but were doing so because they had not been around to hear its declaration. The soldiers were held accountable in court despite their have been following orders. The principle offered, however, is purposely vague, instructing soldiers that an illegal order is one "which a black flag waves over it."

According to Rabbi Levanon, a frank discussion must be had about whether only the killing of civilians falls under the rubric of an illegal order or whether aiding the enemy, negating the Zionist project or violating clear Torah principles constitute such as well.

Left-wing authors and politicians have often stated that if an order is given to expel Arabs from their homes, they would not only refuse but use violence to oppose it. Famed author Amos Oz once declared "we will lay down on the roads, block the crossings, and blow up the bridges to stop the transfer of Arabs."

In 2004, 185 prominent lawmakers, IDF officers and public figures signed a declaration calling for refusal to take part in withdrawals from parts of the Land of Israel. Signers included Meir Har Zion of the famed IDF unit 101, former Prime Minister's Office director-general Yossi Ben Aharon, writer Naomi Frenkel, Ezra Cohen and the father, brother and uncle of Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu.

Rabbi Levanon believes the red line was crossed in Gush Katif, at Amona and in Hevron. “The expulsion of Jewish families from Hevron on Tuesday was clearly beyond the boundaries set by the Torah as well as by human logic,” he said.

The rabbi says a public discussion is necessary because the justice system cannot be trusted to dictate such values as it has demonstrated systematic preference and bias in the past. “The court has become the greatest cause of civil strife in the state. It’s impossible for hundreds of thousands of people to have their mouths shut by a court order.”

With regard to the actual act of refusal, Rabbi Levanon says that Monday’s refusal of elite IDF soldiers of the Duchifat Brigade to take part in the Hevron eviction was not necessarily even connected to the legality or morality of an order. “One of the commanders who was tried [for refusing to take part in the Hevron eviction] was [himself] expelled from Gush Katif,” he said. “Is it practical to request from someone who is today [two years later still] living in a caravan in Nitzan, whose family was kicked out of their home, to expel others from their homes? Everyone agrees that if he requests, he should be accommodated. The fact that he had an unwise commander should be looked into.”

Rabbi Levanon warned against trying to “strangle” an ideology. “Such a move,” he warned, “will only result in finding that ideology in the prime minister’s office instead.”

Claim That "Rabbis Ordered Them to Refuse" False

Some of the soldiers of the Duchifat Brigade who refused to take part in the Hevron eviction were students in the Otniel Yeshiva, whose Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Re'em HaCohen is a vocal critic of refusal. HaCohen, whose brother Gershon HaCohen commanded the implementation of the Disengagement, told Yediot Acharonot Monday night that despite press reports, the rabbis who the soldiers consulted with actually tried to convince them not to refuse orders. “But we are talking about soldiers being sent to evacuate people they grew up with.”

Three of the commanders who refused orders attended HaCohen’s yeshiva in Otniel. One was from Neve Dekalim, one from Kiryat Arba and one from Ofakim, in the Negev.

Many of those who refused orders during the Disengagement, most notably Avi Bieber, cited their conscience rather than any religious ruling.

Yesha Rabbis Praise Soldiers
The Yesha Rabbis’ Council of Judea and Samaria issued a statement of support for Hevron’s residents and the IDF soldiers who refused to take part in their eviction.

“We support and strengthen the pioneers of Hevron who are waging a just and moral struggle against a corrupt and amoral government,” the statement reads. “We bless the Israeli soldiers that obeyed the command of their Jewish hearts and did not take part in the expulsion.”

The rabbis said that both the residents and the soldiers would in the end be victorious. “With self-sacrifice and faith they will overcome the weakness and defeatism of the government of Israel.”

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