A Deadly Army Deserves a Fat Pension

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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IDF chief of staff, Aviv Kochavi.
IDF chief of staff, Aviv Kochavi. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi was determined to make order in the army. He said will not tolerate “recklessness” among his troops when they shoot Arabs. Even before that evasive comment, he said: “You operate in a crowded and rough environment, and many times it is not clear who is an enemy and who is innocent. This is a deceptive and violent environment that is constantly sown with dilemmas.”

What is a soldier supposed to understand from this flood of words, which are actually one big alibi that justifies opening fire at anything that moves. Go figure whether a child is “innocent” or “an enemy.” Perhaps the angel-faced youngster maliciously strolling about in a “rough environment” is hiding a Lau missile in his bag, ready for launch?

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Kochavi’s remarks show that he is a coward – because he has a clear doctrine, which he has stated in the past. Instead of saying once and for all that he is in favor of massive slaughter, whether recklessly or mindfully – by soldiers or settlers – he gives a whole lecture to justify shooting Arabs, adorned with the faded decoration of “recklessness.”

Kochavi has special terminology, delicate on the outside but monstrous in terms of its practical translation. In the past he spoke of reverse geometry. The practical, whitewashed translation of that was entering houses in the Balata refugee camp with bulldozers.

If the chief of staff really wants those under his command to stop the wholesale killings of Palestinians, instead of making vague statements he would have said: Shoot only when your life is in danger. And if not – it’s murder, and murderers will pay the price. But when Kochavi’s theory is a product of a lethal army, the intention here is a massacre, even at the price of ignoring the international rules that aim to restrain occupiers.

And that’s not the end of the double-talk. “We will back you up when you act according to orders, but we will not accept exceptions,” Kochavi said. That is a license to kill. After all, every Palestinian is considered a ticking bomb, and “in crowded and rough” surroundings, mistakes flourish. By the way, and apologies for harping on this, but for such “mistakes” Palestinians pay with their lives.

On the other hand, the army chief’s comment about a “deceptive environment” shows the distorted psychology that guides him. Behind this concept is the assumption that the occupied must welcome the occupiers with bouquets of flowers and enthusiastic hora dances. And so, instead of “deceptive environment,” I propose a more suitable term: “hostile environment.” The Palestinians never claimed they were having fun under the Israeli occupation. They despise the occupation, which deprives them of their land, destroys their homes and kills their children. And therefore to talk about deception, as if this is about a cheating lover, is laughable, even if the situation is tragic.

The other side of Kochavi’s lethality theory involves rewarding those under his command. And when one’s pension looms on the horizon, all the patriotic slogans disappear and the chief of staff is like the board of directors of a profitable company, each of whose members are looking for a slice of the pie. How can a deadly army be created if there are no fat pensions?

In recent years, Israeli soldiers – except for those involved in policing activities, which any self-respecting army tries to stay as far away from as possible – have hardly risked their lives. And here I want to surprise you: Construction workers, whether Jewish or Arab, risk their lives far more than any soldier. And yet construction workers can’t dream of even one-quarter of the pensions that career army retirees get.

And here’s another naïve question: Whose life is more threatened, that of an Arab civilian or of a solider? Every year more than 100 Arabs are murdered. If you were born an Arab, the danger hanging over your life is 10 times greater than that hanging over the life of a soldier chasing children through the alleyways of the Balata refugee camp.

And so, because of the failure of the state to protect their lives, every Arab is entitled to a pension – one that’s even bigger than that of the chief of staff.

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