Shira, Israel

September 11, 2011

Please comment on the growing influence of religious right, and specifically of religious dept. in IDF, esp. w/ respect to settlements. I understand that there are certain units which will not be called up to evacuate settlements based on their beliefs and the very good chance they will refuse orders.

Please comment on the presence of IDF soldiers as chaperones on taglits (WTF?)

Your opinion on whether the demos on rothschild can really be the beginning of a political revolution, if the participants have a tacit agreement to not make the discussion “political” ie. mention the settlements (esp. since they are a keystone in the debate over the use of public money). I understand the idea is to convey to gov’t that a broad cross-section of society opposes gov’t corruption and mismanagement and the free market capitalism that drives a once socialist economy, but can this revolution really succeed w/o a civil war between the secular socialists and the expansionist zealots?

Thanks

Hello Shira,

I’m not sure what you mean by influence. Officially, the army is non-political, and therefore within the army there is no ‘right’ or ‘left.’ Soldiers are given commands which must be followed regardless of political leanings. Israeli citizens who feel they cannot serve in the IDF are often given permission to not serve (pacifists, ultra-orthodox etc..), which I am personally against. Nevertheless, anyone who joins the IDF officially loses their ‘political voice.’ This site is only made possible because all of the correspondents are no longer serving in the regular army. As for soldiers who disobey orders…First of all, it is unlikely that the army would evacuate settlements, this is usually carried out by the police force. That said, there are a small amount of soldiers who have said they would refuse to be involved in the evacuation of settlements. My opinion is that they are completely wrong. Whatever their political ideologies may be, in the army there needs to be order for it to function. The moment, order breaks down the army becomes entirely ineffective. Dissenting soldiers should be dealt with quickly.

Soldiers on taglit are not ‘chapperones.’ Their job while with the taglit group is not one of security in any way, shape or form. Rather, the concept is for taglit participants to meet Israelis their own age who are serving in the IDF. This hopefully gives the taglit kids a chance to meet Israelis and learn more about the army. In Israel, the army is such a large part of the culture, that it is important to understand it on some level to really appreciate Israel and Israeli society. The program of having soldiers be involved with taglit makes this possible. Ive often heard from Taglit participants, that the best part of the trip is the Israelis they meet (which usually refers to the soldiers touring with their group).

Frankly I find the possibility of a civil war breaking out to be nil. While there is a lot of emotion put into the differing sides, Ive personally never seen it come to blows (though I have heard some very rough words and Israelis can be so expressive with their hands when they need to be). I am also not sure about the settlements as a ‘keystone’ part of the socio-economic argument. I’d be more likely to agree that the issue with the ultra-orthodox or ‘haredim’ is very problematic. The haredi community have some very strong, key parties in the government that usually secure financial support for haredi families. What is often a very touchy subject is the government’s bank rolling of haredi men who go to yeshiva instead of the army. I personally have a great problem with the Haredi community as a whole (though I am sure there are amazing individuals who do not deserve the exasperation the community generally brings upon itself). I feel that they take a lot and give nothing back. I also think that if they are excused from army service they should instead have to do a national service.

As for the demonstrations turning into a revolution. I am skeptical of the demonstrators. I think Israel has many issues and is a difficult place to live and that things can and should change. However, my impression of the tent camps (and most specifically those in tel aviv) is that of a bunch of bored snoppy Tel-Avivians who dont want to pay rent. From what I have heard, there are concerts and festivals at the ‘tent city’ almost every night. How can you take them seriously? Also, while I agree with some of their grievances, what is the answer? Money does not grow on trees and if the rent drops, something else will have to go up. They may have some legitimate isssues (and I am sure many that are not) but I’ve heard a lot more about the problems and less about the solutions. What do they want?

For my rather harsh opinion of the demonstrations, I do agree in general that Israel is a bit way-ward. Teachers make nothing, and many people have a hard time making ends meet. The questions for me are how to solve this and who are the people demonstrating on the street. Is it the poor, hard working community? or is it ‘tel aviv students’ who haven’t got anything better to do? Im not sure which, but I am unconvinced at the moment.

Thanks for your questions!

-Amishai

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