Sunday, April 13, 2008

Vigilance from On High

While mothers torturing their children (previous post) is so outlandish one can almost be forgiven for not seeing it coming, soldiers abusing their power, especially in conditions of severe tension, are almost banal. Which means whoever is in charge needs to deal with the danger in advance, and never let up. Achikam has been telling me stories about how his officers have been doing precisely this, and I've even written about it, though perhaps not as much as I ought. Israeli citizens who worry about such things have set up a plethora of NGOs whose mission is to be vigilant and demand of us that we remain moral. I wrote about one of them, here. (The problem with most of these Israeli NGOs is that in their eagerness to justify their activity, they don't always adhere to the strict truth, or they wander into political discussions beyond their putative goals and thereby loose their credibility with the rest of us, which is really too bad because their core business is important).

Sometimes, the call for vigilance comes all the way from the top, as when Ehud Olmert last week called on the commanders of the IDF to keep in mind that Palestinians suffer under Israeli rule, and while there may not be any alternative, we must always do our best to cause as little harm as possible.

If anyone knows of any Western head of government who ever gave such a talk, I'd like to know (I expect there have been such, but none come to mind). I'm not even going to suggest anyone go looking for examples from the Arab world.

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