Sunday, March 01, 2009

Against Incitement

The IDF is looking to restrain its radical clerics:
"The Israel Defense Forces Personnel Directorate released a document limiting the military rabbinate's involvement in educational activities, after a Haaretz report exposed the right-wing political content mixed with religious material the rabbinate was distributing to soldiers...

"Last month the Defense Ministry criticized a controversial booklet the rabbinate distributed during Operation Cast Lead, which included articles by the respected and well-known rabbi Shlomo Aviner saying it was occasionally necessary to show cruelty during fighting and warning against giving up an inch of the Land of Israel."

"Right-wing political content" doesn't actually describe some of what was floating around:
"The IDF rabbinate, also quoting Rabbi Aviner, describes the appropriate code of conduct in the field: 'When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. This is terribly immoral. These are not games at the amusement park where sportsmanship teaches one to make concessions. This is a war on murderers. 'A la guerre comme a la guerre.''

"This view is also echoed in publications signed by Rabbis Chen Halamish and Yuval Freund on Jewish consciousness. Freund argues that 'our enemies took advantage of the broad and merciful Israeli heart' and warns that 'we will show no mercy on the cruel.'

"In addition to the official publications, extreme right-wing groups managed to bring pamphlets with racist messages into IDF bases. One such flyer is attributed to 'the pupils of Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg' - the former rabbi at Joseph's Tomb and author of the article 'Baruch the Man,' which praises Baruch Goldstein, who massacred unarmed Palestinians in Hebron. It calls on 'soldiers of Israel to spare your lives and the lives of your friends and not to show concern for a population that surrounds us and harms us. We call on you ... to function according to the law 'kill the one who comes to kill you.' As for the population, it is not innocent ... We call on you to ignore any strange doctrines and orders that confuse the logical way of fighting the enemy.'"

The IDF can distance itself from this, and in so doing will represent the sense of self of the Israeli majority. However, the crazy radical nationalist strain of society from which it strings will continue to cling to the institutions of the Israeli state until it is confronted and defeated.



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