What do we tell our soldiers' parents?
We have yet to reach the point where troops who refuse to charge forward are executed, but no officials have condemned the comments of Maj. Gen. (res.) Amidror.
My colleague, Chaim Levinson, has "arranged" quite a coveted position for Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad. Following Wednesday's publication of comments made by Gilad's competitor for national security adviser post, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror - who said an IDF soldier should kill anyone who interferes with a mission, and that a soldier who does not charge forward deserves a bullet in his head - it can be assumed the prime minister will nullify Amidror's candidacy. Benjamin Netanyahu has had his fill of appointment scandals.
Gilad will be appointed, but we won't demand a response to Amidror's remarks, nor to the shameless silence of the government and the army's top brass. True, this is a private matter: Amidror stated his own opinion. But the spirit of his comments did not fall on deaf ears in the Israel Defense Forces.
The soldier should kill "anyone who hinders him in executing the mission." No formula better expresses the IDF's new doctrine, which was applied with exemplary (and frightening) precision in Operation Cast Lead. One does not need to be overly fastidious about words to be shocked by Amidror's statements.
Referring to orders in the first Lebanon war to "fight carefully," Amidror stated: "That's a totally illegal order. What should be said is 'kill more of the bastards on the other side, so that we'll win.' Period." He said what the IDF, in fact, did.
True, Israel's army does not share all of his sentiments - Amidror was in favor of occupying all of the Gaza Strip. True, the IDF has not enacted the other part of Amidror's view - we have yet to reach the point where those who refuse to charge forward are executed. Still, the remarks of a major general, and a leading candidate for national security adviser, cannot be ignored.
What are we supposed to say to Israeli mothers and fathers, in response to these comments? That the IDF's leadership includes generals who call for their children to be killed? They, and their children, know that what the major general said at the Israel Democracy Institute last year is a sentiment he would contemplate sharing at meetings of the General Staff. They also know that these comments reflect a dangerous trend - and that even if the trend does not represent the viewpoint of all IDF officers, those who harbor Amidror's viewpoint still win top appointments.
Amidror thrives, with a skullcap on his head, on putting religious nationalism above everything else. He is not only a major general who is considered a "thinking" officer, he is also a publicist and an educator. He served as commander of the IDF colleges. The corpus of his spoken comments and writings jibe with the spirit of what he said at the Israel Democracy Institute, at a session whose title was fitting: "National Values in the Israel Defense Forces."
The fact that the prime minister wanted him as the top adviser at the National Security Council says something not just about Amidror, but also about Netanyahu.
Amidror recommended firing bullets in the heads of IDF soldiers and anyone who interferes with the army. This loose cannon of a major general, who never held a high-ranking combat post, even found the right ammunition for an attack on the New Israel Fund. "The state should act against the fund using every means at its disposal. And if it doesn't have the means, it should create them," he said. Do you get it? Amidror even views the United States through his narrow prism: As in judo, he has written, America exploits the enemy's errors to bring about its collapse. Needless to say, as he sees it, America's "enemy" in that case is Israel.
And here is the lesson he has drawn from Egypt's revolution: Security is preferable to peace, Amidror wrote recently. That is the spirit of the briefings the adviser wrote for Netanyahu, and it is the spirit of the man Netanyahu was poised to appoint as national security adviser.
Amidror is not the first major general to unleash his vulgar, anti-democratic views, and the problem does not lie exclusively with him and his style. We have had our share of generals (and politicians ) whose thinking was prone to ultra-nationalist militarism, and whose manner of expression was violent and vulgar. The question is what place should such persons have in a society that purports to be civil and democratic?
Instead of ostracizing such figures, we yearn to hear their next statements, and they become interpreters of reality during Israel's wars. Instead of ostracizing them, we promote them to roles where their outlooks can find practical expression. And instead of denouncing them, the IDF and the government wrap themselves in ominous silence. The truth is that Amidror said what many are already thinking.
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