Mendelblit Is Worthy of the Role

He was an inseparable part of a system whose role was to provide juridical justification for the persecution and subjugation of Palestinians.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Avichai Mendelblit (right) consults with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a weekly cabinet meeting, September 2015.
Avichai Mendelblit (right) consults with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a cabinet meeting, September 2015.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg (Pool)
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Breaking the Silence has become such a reviled symbol in certain circles that the chairman of the Association of Community Rabbis referred to it in order to batter another rabbi who suggested that it be permitted for a husband to touch his wife during labor in order to afford her spiritual comfort (Kippah website, Dec. 2). The chairman, Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu, wrote (Arutz Sheva, Dec. 18) that without relating to the topic itself, he was referring to the fact that Ilai Ofran, the rabbi of the religious kibbutz Kvutzat Yavne, rejected the proposal by Rabbi Menachem Burstein to conduct a debate around this issue in a religious study center or at the PUAH Institute which deals with fertility and medicine based on religious law.

According to Eliyahu, Ofran called PUAH head Burstein a director of the “thought police.” “If Ofran wishes to operate within the world of the Torah and not outside it, he should accept Rabbi Menachem’s invitation to deal with the issue in the framework of religious seminaries out of respect for Torah students, and not do as Breaking the Silence does, operating outside our boundaries in order to harm and show contempt toward others,” wrote Eliyahu.

Disregarding the wild and unoriginal defamation “in order to harm and show contempt toward others,” the comparison is accurate in one respect: Militarism is a religion in our parts, and the army is like a holy order of rank holders. One of these is the fresh appointment to the attorney general’s post, Maj. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit. This order is so sacred that those who oppose the appointment remember negatively only his most recent post as cabinet secretary and not his military past. It’s customary and natural with us that rank holders of this order carry their sanctity with them as something that is self-evident – with more perks the higher the rank – to the next world, namely after their demobilization into civilian life.

The sanctity of this order is predicated on obedience to the highest edict, the daily renewed verbal and written rule commanding the subjugation of a nation that resists our domination over it, and an expansion of settlements until the world agrees to a undivided and whole Land of Israel. Here is one “to-do” commandment that is a corollary of this rule: On the campus of the Palestinian Technical University – Kadoorie in Tulkarm, Israel’s army continues to maintain a shooting range. “Use of this range, which is a security installation, will continue based on security assessments and the army’s needs,” says the order’s spokesman in response to Haaretz.

A shooting range within a campus? If that is what the military priests ordain, that is clearly what Israel’s security requires and there is no appealing this ruling. Only the Israeli “Academy of Equality,” which read about the futile attempts by the Palestinian university to prevent military incursions into the campus and of confrontations between the army and Palestinian youths, was shocked, getting colleagues to sign a petition and send a protest letter to the authorities.

The range on this campus is the kind of unknown military altars, an enslavement to which Breaking the Silence is trying to break. This group’s members were mainly novices in the order when something in that cult of earth and blood and military religion started to bother them. Before climbing too high in the order, they decided to leave its confines. To leave the self-sanctifying order, the strongest guild in the country.

Mendelblit is a member of that guild of experts in and out of uniform, considered objective and impartial, with no vested interests, protecting the confines while explaining why it’s essential to perpetuate the current situation of occupation, settlements and life by the sword.

Mendelblit started out as a deferred-service student, becoming a military prosecutor and judge in occupied Gaza and ending up as the military advocate general in an army which has caused many casualties to the other side. Despite nice things he said about the human rights group B’Tselem and a few investigations of soldiers during his term, he was an inseparable part of a system whose role was to provide juridical justification for the persecution and subjugation of Palestinians, in a perennial attempt to purify the evils of a foreign ruler and its robbery. All of this makes him a worthy person for the appropriate role.

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