It is unlikely that I will be posting again until after Pesach. I ask you all — please! — after today to hold comments and sharing of information until the completion of the Chag.
As I contemplate Pesach, I am mindful of its messages for today. The Exodus forged us into a people. The Almighty brought us out of Egypt to come to Sinai and receive the Torah, and then, when we were ready, to enter into Eretz Yisrael, the land that has been given to us as sacred trust.
We were all there on that fateful night. We must stand together now.
To all those on this list who will be celebrating Pesach, I send my warmest wishes for a Chag Kasher v’Sameach. May HaShem bless and keep us in the year ahead.
It is time for standing tall.
StandWithUs, a fine Israel advocacy organization originally founded in LA, has put up a site called “Soldiers Speak Out.’ It provides video clips (and summary text of those clips) of Israeli soldiers explaining how they tried to protect civilians in Gaza and how Hamas operates. There is one sequence describing a old woman crying out in pain, seen by soldiers. When they began to approach her to help her, they realized she was wired to a suicide belt and was being used as a trap. If this doesn’t open eyes…
See it at: http://www.soldiersspeakout.com:80/ and recommend it to others.
On the very same subject, is other news, which merits a “How about that!”
Danny Zamir is the head of a pre-military academy who had called in some of his former students to discuss the operation in Gaza and what they had experienced or perceived as soldiers. He put the transcript of the discussion in an in-house newsletter which Haaretz — and then the NY Times and other media sources — picked up and ran, making implied accusations about the immorality of an IDF that allegedly shoots civilians, etc. etc.
Turns out that Danny Zamir himself was horrified with what was said and has now written and article and given an interview to the Jerusalem Post, to set the record straight.
“The whole story spun out of control,” he says. What he intended as an internal discussion was used by the media to turn the IDF into war criminals. “It was as if the media were altogether so eager to find reason to criticize the IDF that they pounced on one discussion by nine soldiers who met…to share their experiences and subjective feelings…using that one episode to draw conlcusions that felt more like an indictment.
“…Operation Cast Lead was justified; the IDF worked in a surgical manner. Unfortunately, in these types of operations, civilians will be killed. The IDF operated in a way in which it tried to protect civilians in the most crowded place in the world (sic). There were no orders to kill civilians or anything like that…”
Zamir was particularly disturbed by one aspect of the reporting that I hadn’t even touched upon here: the implication — most prominent in the NY Times — that an increase in the number of religious soldiers and officers was leading to a deterioration in the moral standards of the IDF.
This is a libel if ever their was one, and fits into the whole falsely constructed image of the “radical” religious Zionist as the enemy of moderation and peace.
Said Zamir, who is himself a secular leftist, the more graduates of the religious academies [yeshivas] in the army, the better. “There will be a higher moral level in the army. The religious Zionists are leading the camp in many areas…”
“The guiding principle that directs IDF combat soldiers,” Zamir told the Post, “…encompasses a balance between two needs: to defend soldiers’ lives and to minimize harm to the civilians behind whom terrorists try to hide. This is expressed in the tension between the necessity of opening fire when the soldiers’ security and battled conditions require…and the absolute obligation to hold fire and to act with due compassion toward civilians when it appears they have no evil intent…
“These guidelines and the obligation to uphold them are an inseparable part of the Jewish Zionist world of IDF soldiers, and deeply anchored in generations of Jewish heritage, particularly in the doctrine of military conduct renewed by the early socialist-Zionists a century ago. They called this principle by a name that’s unlikely to have been given to any other nationalist movement fighting for its independence; ‘Purity of Arms’…
“…The outsider might not understand this, but we — the Jews of the State of Israel — live this every day, every hour.
“…In order to appreciate this moral code, one must note the context in which it operates…
“Our war against an unrestrained terror organization that uses human shields in various ways…presents the IDF…with almost impossible complexities…The greatness of any army fighting under such conditions lies in its aspiring to ‘zero errors’ and in its openness to examining its failures — finding them and fixing them.
“‘May our camp be pure.’ This is the watchword born by my soldiers in the IDF…because this is the essence of their belief and their national heritage.”
“May our camp be pure.”
All else will, please G-d, keep until after Pesach.