By now, you’ve probably all read the Israeli soldier’s testimonies, reviling shocking (not to be mistaken with "surprising", as they weren’t) details of their conduct, in the onslaught on Gaza. You’ve probably also heard that the IDF has concluded it was all hearsay and closed the investigations after less than a week (again, not surprising).
This chain of events was expected and I have very little to contribute to the debate of a fascist regime investigating itself- the results are obvious and frustratingly discouraging. What fascinated me was how these testimonies got out. I admit, I had a fantasy, of beautiful young boys, who’s inner values clash with the murderous values of the oppressive military. No such luck.
The stories came out at an alumni evening, held at The Rabin Military Preparation Center [Hebrew]. The soldiers, alumni of the center, came to speak and told of what they experienced in Gaza. This Friday special [Hebrew] on the subject stated (limited by my translation):
"The alumni described what they went through, freely. Not as someone who holds a big secret in their stomach. This, in their eyes, was the Gaza experience. And they were almost surprised to hear that it seemed estranged to anyone, or unethical."
What is The Rabin Military Preparation Center?
The Rabin Military Preparation Center is a pleasantly green place, where Israeli high school graduates take a 13th year of schooling. If 12 years of institutional Israeli brainwashing did their job thoroughly enough, an 18 year old will be willing to give yet another year of his (+3 years military service), or her (+2 years military service) life to their country. Now that’s patriotism…
What do you learn in the preparatory center? You may be surprised. It’s a participatory community, that stresses social responsibility and involvement through values of democracy and leadership. So far- so good, may all children have the opportunity to such education, and not just for one measly year.
So Where’s the Problem?
The problem is rooted in two basic elements of the program:
- The strengthening of the "Jewish identity" and values of "Humanist Zionism". (Don’t confuse these values with the values pioneered by Martin Buber.)
- A prerequisite to acceptance to the program is the guarantee that you’ll enlist in the army.
These kids, in effect, are being shielded from a the reality of diversity, in their country, under the pretext of meeting other kids, "from all walks of life". In reality, they don’t get to meet the Israeli Arabs that identify themselves as Palestinian. Together, the kids learn a solidarity of a Jewish nature, and are prepared for a proud service in the Israeli army.
How do You Make Sure the Humanitarianism Doesn’t Clash with the Militarism?
Here’s the official Rabin Military Preparation Center statement [Hebrew] (limited by my translation):
- The Rabin Preparation believes in- and educates towards- a constructive leadership that is motivated of social charisma.
- Constructive leadership can and is obligated to a train of thought that it believes in, as well in cases in which the thought is different from the surrounding environment. However in order for its voice to be heard and have effect, it may not resign from the the general public, and it is obligated to the ethical and behavioral norms that are required of the community leadership.
- Today, a meaningful service in the Israeli Defense Forces is part of such norms.
- There is justification not to fulfill this type of obligation when is constitutes "an evil in itself":
* If the structural policy of the state is a crime against humanity.
* If the army’s actions, in order to actualize the policy, actualizes or obligates crimes against humanity, and disallows a single soldier to avoid taking part in them.
- As we understand it, Israel uphold the required norms:
* The state of Israel employs a defensive policy, that was forced upon it, after it went the way of a peace process, that included evacuation of territories (and the majority of settlements), that it acquired in a defensive war.
* In actualizing the state’s policy, IDF tries to uphold ethical principles in its actions, restricts itself in planning of its actions, in order to prevent civilian casualties, and forces the single soldier not to obey illegal orders.
Examining the Ethics of Military Preparation Centers
Head of the center, Danny Zamir, was the one to leak this to the media. He was reportedly shocked and said:
"The incidents involving the killing of civilians are the most disturbing and need to be investigated. What I also found very distressing was how the norms of the army’s code of conduct have been eroded and how widespread the aberrations are at junior commander level."
Obviously, if Zamir holds such high ethical standards (if allowing armament could be called that), as stated in the above manifesto, he was likely to be shocked and leak this information. Let us not forget, however, that the soldiers, who testified to committing these war crimes, are the Rabin Center alumni. That means they should have been prepared for Gaza: Armed to the teeth with humanism.
Questions should definitely be asked at the legitimacy of these schools, which it’s ethical systems are based on fallacies. Fallacies which will eventually have the devastating effect of confusing the young "Humanist Zionist", and will result in atrocities in the heat of battle- when it is much more challenging to discern right from wrong. I’m all for arming our boys and girls with humanist values, but an extra cartridge of the facts will help them make the right decision, before they even set foot in a military preparatory center.