Kahalani Tells Teens: Draft Dodgers Bring Crime

A former minister and a hero of the Yom Kippur War, Avigdor Kahalani, had some choice remarks for young people he addressed during the last "Footsteps of the Fighters" program on the Golan Heights.

Kahalani established the program, held annually in October, to deepen young people's knowledge of the region's military history and to motivate them.

"You know those girls who go around saying they're religious like that singer with her boobs hanging out? If you pretend you're religious, I'll take one of you and deal with her personally," he said.

"There are boys who are in love with their mothers. How do I know this? They ask to serve [in the army] close to home," Kahalani told the audience.

At the beginning of his lecture, according to notes taken by a participant, Kahalani said, "I was an MK, I met with [Yasser] Arafat, I hosted Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] in my home, I did a lot of things for peace. I tell you, the hatred for us cannot be bridged. Peace can be made if tomorrow we all move to New York. Nobody will take us in there anyhow. We can't stop protecting ourselves. We have no other country.

"The citizens of this country are like someone swimming in the ocean. You can't stop swimming and struggling. You know that guy Jacko [Eisenberg], from 'A Star is Born'? The one who all the girls pull their hair out for when they see him? What about me? Why don't people pull their hair out for me? When he was selected, all the newspapers interviewed him. He won't give his skinny bottom. I thought I was going to kill him."

Kahalani then proceeded to his remarks about girls who pretend they are religious and boys who want to serve close to home. He angrily attacked teens who do not serve in the army. "It is unacceptable for someone not to serve in the IDF! Those who don't serve take advantage of us! Those who don't serve won't pay taxes, they'll bring crime, drugs - don't accept them! Cast them out!"

According to the person who wrote down Kahalani's remarks, they were greeted with stormy applause.

"I want to give you a gift," the reserves brigadier general told his young listeners, while holding a large Israeli flag. "I want to give you this flag. The whole world has flags. But they're ugly. Red, black, green. Who has a flag with a Star of David on it? Who has one that is blue and white?"

Pointing to the nearby monument to the 77th Brigade, he said, "the fighters were there because the flag has to be protected. The day that the AWOL and the absent soldier are the kings of the neighborhood - the state will be gone on that day. Can I trust this flag to you?"

Kahalani established the "Footsteps of the Fighters" program five years ago when he was head of the department of social affairs and security in the Defense Ministry. He gives his motivational lecture five times on the day the program takes place, repeating the lecture each time. The teenagers tour battle sites, meet combat soldiers, watch a live-fire exercise and other activities. So far, some 180,000 12th-graders have taken part in the program.

The Defense Ministry declined to provide details on the annual cost of the program, which it funds together with the Education Ministry.

Kahalani confirmed to Haaretz that he made the statements attributed to him, but said he was joking about Jacko Eisenberg. "I don't take back anything. I didn't say I'd kill Jacko, but it made my blood boil. The goal of the program is to raise the teens' motivation. You have to keep 'pumping' the motivation. The kids have to understand their national responsibility. That is the embodiment of Zionism. There are kids who come up to me and say they changed their mind about not serving. Teachers come to me crying, their hands shaking, saying they didn't know the children love the flag so much."