J.J. Goldberg

Settlements Aren’t the Problem? Tell the Troops

By J.J. Goldberg

  • Print
  • Share Share

Israel’s military brass is mildly frantic over a spreading phenomenon of political protest within the infantry ranks by soldiers threatening to disobey if ordered to dismantle settlement structures. Efforts to stem the threats are generating tensions between the military command and a network of army-linked yeshivas.

Twice in the past month soldiers in the West Bank-based Kfir Brigade have unfurled large banners declaring that their battalions would not “expel Jews.” Both incidents followed battalion operations to demolish illegal buildings in settlements.

A third banner was discovered today (November 19) at the Kfir training base in the Jordan Valley. Base commanders were uncertain who made it or when it was to be displayed, according to Ynetnews.com.

The first incident occurred October 22 at an induction ceremony at the Western Wall for recruits to the Shimshon Battalion, which had recently dismantled illegal buildings at Homesh, one of four settlements in the northern West Bank evacuated during the 2005 disengagement and now off-limits to Israeli civilians. The second incident occurred November 16 in the Nahshon Battalion, which had dismantled two illegal buildings at Neguhot, south of Hebron.

In all, six soldiers from the two units have been court-martialed and handed jail sentences ranging from 14 to 30 days. Four of them were demoted and permanently barred from combat units.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on November 17, the day after the second incident, that if “refusal” to follow orders gains ground, “it will bring about the collapse of the state.” Other leaders have issued similar warnings in recent weeks.

Within the army’s general command, particular attention is focused on yeshivot hesder, 41 military-linked rabbinical academies housing special army units that divide their army service between active duty and Talmud study. The deans of several Hesder yeshivas are said to have taught that soldiers must disobey commands contrary to religious law. The chief of the Israel Defense Force’s Manpower Division, General Avi Zamir, met with the five-man executive committee of the Union of Hesder Yeshivas November 17 and demanded that the union issue a clear statement condemning insubordination, according to various Orthodox and secular news outlets.

Unnamed army sources told Ynet that particular scrutiny was focused on the Elon Moreh yeshiva, headed by Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, and the Har Bracha yeshiva under Rabbi Eliezer Melamed.

According to a Ynet report that was only partially translated into English, Zamir warned that yeshivas that had not begun taking firm, explicit action against insubordination within a week would have their ties with the army reexamined.

The yeshiva union issued a statement that evening condemning “political demonstrations” in the army, according to Ynet. It went on to demand that “isolated incidents such as these” not be used to demonize “an entire population” (tzibur shalem) of “dedicated youths faithfully serving the nation.”

The yeshiva union’s statement concluded: “The Union of Hesder Yeshivas calls for a deep dialogue within Israeli society over the use of the army for missions of a policing or law-enforcement character.” The statement made no mention of refusing to obey orders, either to condemn or endorse it. According to Ynet, quoting an unnamed Hesder official, the yeshiva deans fear that further army pressure on radical rabbis could force the rest of the deans to close ranks in support of the radicals.

Levanon told Ynet separately in an interview that the one injecting politics into the military was Defense Minister Ehud Barak who he said was trying to fend off Labor Party leadership challenges by sending troops to dismantle settlements. “I call on the [military’s] chief of staff to resist such corruption. Stop it with your own body. Stand with all the general staff and say, ‘We do not accept political orders’.”

Fifteen Knesset members from the Likud and parties to its right responded to the November 16 Nahshon Battalion incident by backing a bill that would forbid army participation in dismantling settlements, which it says is the job of the police. The bill prompted further divisions when two of the three lawmakers from the Bayit Yehudi (“Jewish Home”) Party, the remnant of the former National Religious Party’s moderate wing, refused to back it.

Further inflaming discord, the families of the two jailed Shimshon Battalion soldiers were feted on Saturday night, November 14, at a Farbrengen, a Hasidic post-Sabbath celebration, organized by Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, a Chabad-Lubavitch leader and head of the pro-settler SOS Israel organization. Joined by another Chabad leader, Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh of the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva, and lawmaker Michael Ben-Ari of the far-right National Union party, Wolpe presented each of the families with a check for 20,000 shekels, or $5,300.

Sephardiman Fri. Nov 20, 2009

There's a simple solution: When George Washington was faced with mutineers in his army, notably the New Jersey Regiments, he shot them. Put a few of these hooligans up before a firing squad and this entire Arutz 7 farce will be over immediately.

nadav Fri. Nov 20, 2009

The handwriting is already on the wall. The army will, hopefully, release the country from the grasp of the Liberal-Left elites who are responsible for all the problems which Israel must now confront. These brave soldiers are the beginning of a tide that will change the course of Israeli and Middle eastern history. It is coming.

Ben Plonie Sat. Nov 21, 2009

Your ominous statement of the problem is "The deans of several Hesder yeshivas are said to have taught that soldiers must disobey commands contrary to religious law."

I read this as "Political and military authorities are said to have taught that soldiers must disobey religious laws contrary to commands.

Political and military commands outside of the context of an inspired value system is nothing but fascism.

Jewish. State. Remember?

Sephardiman Mon. Nov 23, 2009

So Nadav you endorse treason and mutiny?

nadav Tue. Nov 24, 2009

When it is the state acting in a treasonous manner, it becomes the responsibility of all those who cherish their nation to speak up and resist. Those who support the uprooting of Jews are the traitors to the Jewish people and history will judge them as such.

Sephardiman Tue. Nov 24, 2009

First of all it is highly irresponsible of you Nadav to castigate an entire state as treasonous. That was the same logic the rebellious southern states used in 1861 to justify their secession from the Union. Second, citizens have every right to disagree and lobby against laws and policies they take issue with but the rule of law must ultimately prevail and as Lincoln said no one ." can take with bullets what they failed to get with ballots." Third, soldiers, while on active duty, do not enjoy the same liberties as ordinary citizens and to disobey orders, based on a personal assessment, is act of mutiny and worthy of the highest level of punishment.

nadav Tue. Nov 24, 2009

The Southern states had more right to withdraw from the United States in 1861 than the 13 colonies had to secede from England in 1776, because England created the 13 colonies, but the United States did not create the 13 states; the 13 states created the United States.

Like the Southern states, the United States today would have the right to secede from the United Nations, because the United Nations did not create the United States, the United States created the United Nations.

Sephardiman Tue. Nov 24, 2009

Again you are incorrect Nadav. The 13 Colonies became the United States at the time of the Declaration of Independence. At that point the 13 original states, and all new states coming into the Union, became creations of the United States. Thus, no subservant government could legally remove itself from the parent body that created it, i.e. the Union. Thus, the act of secession, and the creation of the Confederacy, constituted an act of treason and rebellion against the popular government of the United States. Hence Lincoln's authority to uphold the sovereignty of the Union and the constitution.

nadav Tue. Nov 24, 2009

You need a lesson in US Constitutional Law. There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution or any other legal document which precludes any state or group of states from seceding from the United States.

Sephardiman Wed. Nov 25, 2009

@Nadav-Mr. Lincoln felt differently as did even James Buchanan. For that matter so did John Quincy Adams who told John C. Calhoun, when they both served in the cabinet of James Monroe, that if the southern states ever seceded not only would this be an act of rebellion, but that the federal government would be constitutionally empowered to confiscate or free African-American slaves as a measure aimed at preserving the Union. (Something Lincoln did when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation.)

nadav Wed. Nov 25, 2009

Whatever they 'thought' is irrelevant. Once in office, Presidents have free rein to take actions not specifically spelled out in Constitutional Law. The fact remains that there is absolutely nothing in the Constitution or any other legal document which precluded any state or group of states from seceding from the United States.

Neil Thu. Nov 26, 2009

Texas is the only state that can legally secede from the Union.

Miriam Chartier Sat. Dec 5, 2009

nadav, my friend, I loved what you said. The people, of the country are the ones judged by G-D. If the country leaders make a mistake, we all go down. We are to be united. But the country belongs to G-D and his people, not the leaders. The leaders work for G-D and his people.

Leaders get so puffed up.....and see everyone else as nothing.

In time to come, may it come soon, my LORD, we do know in G-D'S good and sure time, Jerusalem will loom large and tall as reference point for all the nations of the new earth. That will be when the city of G-D is marked, as it surely will be, by faithfulness, justice, and righteousness. in that time Jerusalem will be like a magnet, drawing all the nations all people of the world toward its pecuiar authority that is found in the desire of G-D own heart for us all. Peace, will live in all the hearts that turn towards the flame that is burning in our G-D Of All That Is.

To see now, is to see tears.

Isaiah 1....But rebels and sinners shall be destroyed together, and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.

For you shall be ashamed of the oaks (the leaders we look up to) in which you delighted; and you shall blush for the gardens (you place of worship were you spiritual were to grow towards G-D and did not) ....that you have chosen.

We walk in error with our heads held high, we are chosen people. People open the eyes of your hearts....does this read like we were chosen and are under the protection of G-D.

Isaiah 1....For you shall be like an oak whose leaf withers, and like a garden without water. The strong shall become like tinder, and their work like a spark; they and their work shall burn together, with no one to quench them.

There is hope ...for those who repent in justice and righteousness, like these men, that you judge. think before you judge the righteous of G-D. For G-D alone is Judge. The hope of these men and all of us is found in Isaiah 1:27 Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness.

The rest, surely the majority, are those already considered who resist G-D. For these there is no hope. They will be consumed eaten alive so to speak in one gulpl we can read in Isaiah the nagative transformation of everything of value. The verse that speaks of the oaks, and gardens---embodiments and symbols of growth, power, and self-generated vitality----all will shrivel, dry up and fail. The presumed strength of these leaders and virility of the powerful will evaporate in the drought.

G-D is at war, you can not win, unless you join up turn from sin and become a son of G-D, a true Jew.

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.