An Officer and an Educator

Let every system - whether defense or education - fulfill its own duties and correct its own mistakes by itself, without superiors and inferiors.

The celebrities are on their way out, now that the school year has begun, and the army officers are coming instead. They have been invited to the schools "in order to educate Israel's teachers," as Or Kashti reported in Haaretz this week.

The impression is that the teachers are less erudite than all those who instruct them, and there is no one who cannot be called in to replace them for a while and teach them wisdom. What is there about our army that prepares officers to serve as teachers to the teachers? Their superiority is apparently self-evident. How can they even be compared?

Nevertheless, why should 270 commanders lord it over 150,000 principals and teachers? Perhaps thanks to their achievements, which are well known to all and require no proof? But when push comes to shove, it is not quite clear which of them is more successful and which the greater failure. Over the past three years, the Israel Defense Forces has waged two wars. In Lebanon it sowed the wind, and in Gaza it reaped the Goldstone report.

But perhaps the army has the right to patronize because it has uprooted violence from its midst, as opposed to the education system, which still has not managed to do so? Here, once again, reality intrudes and spoils the picture: Hazing has not disappeared, and abuse is alive and well and being photographed. Have we not seen the recent kickings and beatings, the fresh bruises that get passed on from one generation to the next?

Or perhaps it is thanks to the discipline the commanders manage to impose on their subordinates, whereas teachers lack that ability? For quite a few bad years now, the IDF has been trying to overcome an internal rebellion, by the enemy on the right that is threatening to bring the house down on top of us all. It has promised a thousand times to get rid of those hesder yeshivas whose heads are plotting to take over the army once it subordinates itself to rabbinic authority. But the supreme command keeps backing down. It is afraid of a confrontation. So it permits the seed of calamity to be fruitful and multiply.

Or perhaps it is thanks to the values that are inculcated in all army courses, from basic training through officers' training, but are neglected in classrooms, from first grade through 12th? Yet the IDF has recently made a considerable contribution to the culture of lying that is annihilating many good things. The uniform can be stained with more than a few spots, but you will nevertheless still be an officer to us, whether a brigadier general or a chief military chaplain: All are candidates for promotion.

Or perhaps it is thanks to the officers' intellectual superiority over the teachers, which, for some reason, they are shy of displaying to all the way they display their weapons? Or perhaps to their modest way of life, which makes it possible for those of high rank to join delegations and stay in extremely luxurious hotels? Or perhaps to their salaries, which are double or triple those of the teachers? Or perhaps to their retirement plan, which allows them to leave at age 42 on generous terms, while teachers have to stay behind in class until a not-so-pleasant old age?

The purpose of Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar's "educational plan" has not been made sufficiently clear. "To encourage enlistment in combat units in the army" is a slogan. Do they not tell us with every new cohort of conscripts that motivation has reached a record high, that the spirit of volunteerism is stronger than ever, that demand for places in combat units exceeds supply? Perhaps they are simply taking the name of security in vain once again?

I have a revolutionary proposal. Let every system - whether defense or education - fulfill its own duties and correct its own mistakes by itself, without superiors and inferiors. Only if every one does his own job and tends to his own stables will the foals, who will later become horses, stop escaping from us.