Thursday, April 8, 2010

Striking Troops

A group of soldiers affiliated with the Har Brach yeshiva have gone on strike. They're protesting that the army no longer recognizes their yeshiva as part of the Hesder program, in which soldiers may exchange part of their active military service for study time; the lost recognition is the result of positions taken by the head of the yeshiva against soldiers participating in the dismantling of settlements.

I have no patience for these fellows. Soldiers don't go on strike, nor are they allowed to participate in political acts. If they insist, they should go to jail. This is true when left-leaning soldiers put their opinions above their orders, and it's true when right-leaning ones do so. The numbers on either side have never been significant - a handful - but the symbolism is clear. In a democracy, the military carries out missions defined by the executive (in Israel the constitutional specifics are that the cabinet is the commander in chief, though there is often a special, limited group of ministers who are designated to make ongoing decisions), the executive is elected, and if the electorate wishes it can defenestrate the executive - a prerogative often used. Citizens are free to strive to change the executive; soldiers are forbidden to. Reservists are soldiers when in uniform. Not hard to understand and live by.


joseph said...

Dr. Lozowick,

Doesn't a soldier have the right, indeed the duty, to disobey immoral orders? Isn't that part of what Nuremberg was about? I think in a democracy a soldier should engage in civil disobedience and trust the publicity to eventually exonerate him, but disobedience nevertheless.


Yaacov said...

Short answer: no, this isn't the case. Long answer is that I'm going offline forabit, and will relate to your question when I'm online again.

NormanF said...

The only exception is an order to expel innocent people from their homes - or to kill innocent people. If I was in uniform, I would refuse to carry out an order that harmed innocent people. The "follow orders" defense is not valid in all circumstances in the Jewish State - this is the defense the Nazi war criminals invoked at Nuremberg to justify their crimes against humanity.