There's no telling when exactly the Israel Defense Forces lost its sense of humor or its appreciation of modern art, but there's no doubt the khaki-wearers' sourness is troublesome. First it was Brig. Gen. Elazar Stern's all-out war on draft-dodging artists. Now the IDF Spokesman's combatants have stormed a dance scene performed by uniform-wearing cheerleaders during a time-out at last Thursday's basketball game between Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
One could agree with the argument that this is an illegal use of the uniform, but how do they stoop to the explanation that "this makes cynical, demeaning use of IDF uniforms?" Would a few seconds of dancing topple the masculine myth shaping our army? Would red-and-white pom-poms weaken the grip of the soldier holding the gun? Will dancing to the sounds of trance music generate a wave of resistance by those the first sergeant orders to perform graceless foot drills?
Perhaps the choreographer should have thought of another idea, but the end result is thought provoking. In recent years quite a few field commanders and General Staff generals have, to understate the case, grown fat living the good life. Their uniforms, to put it gently, are almost bursting, their movements are heavy and awkward. Their appearance is not especially aesthetic. Considering the fact that the dance was in fact a deodorant ad, the IDF seems to have taken the hint and felt hurt.
And anyway, our glorious soldiers' battle-heritage stories are full of images taken from the dance world. The strategist frequently likens the forces' movements to a perfect dance step. Force A outflanked from the right, force B burst in from the left and the other forces joined in, with perfect timing, this or that movement. Harmony at its best. Quite a few war heroes tell tales of bullets dancing around them, and bearers of MAG machine guns can shoot in a way that sounds like a perfect melody. Pom-poms, to be fair, have yet to find a place.
The IDF's top brass traditionally shows up at the country's biggest sports events. At Maccabi Tel Aviv games on Thursday nights our senior officers feast their eyes on scantily clad girls performing sensual dance steps during time-outs. Some of them enjoy those winsome sights in Malha, Jerusalem, as well. At any rate, they have never complained.
What we need now is a more confident IDF that smiles more. Perhaps something along the lines of Assi Dayan's cult movie "Givat Halfon Doesn't Answer." An army that knew, especially after the trauma of the Yom Kippur War, how to release tension and give in to Nitza Shaul's captivating hip-swaying. An army that loved Capt. Shamgar (Tuvia Tzafir), and accepted the movie as an integral part of the recruitment process.
Perhaps if the IDF had a few more dance pieces at its events, even traditional ones, then real, uniform-wearing soldiers would stop yawning at ceremonies.
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