REALITY CHECK: THE MOST MORAL ARMY IN THE WORLD. REALLY?
After 70 years of independence, we should be mature enough to honestly examine ourselves.
BY JEFF BARAK
APRIL 15, 2018 21:20
The IDF, said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman recently, is the most moral army in the world, a statement which had most Israelis nodding their head in automatic agreement. But how do we know? Is there a league table for military morality, with a point gained for every enemy civilian left unharmed during a battle, two deducted for every civilian maimed or killed and five points taken off for any use of illegal weapons? Who keeps the score?
It can be evaluated based on the decisions it takes in incredibly challenging circumstances such as sending early warning notifications via roof-knocking and leaflet drops to evacuate an area, totally removing the element of surprise (and thereby elevating the risks) to minimise the loss of civilian life.
And if there really was such a system of assessing military morality, how do we honestly think the IDF would rank?
See above. No actual point made here. How about comparing actions by Israeli army to other armies worldwide facing similar conflicts? I see the author doesn’t bother to mention that, taking aim at the IDF alone. Typical, as Israel is always judged to a higher (and practically impossible) standard than other countries. Wonder why that is?
Over the past three weekends, more than 30 unarmed Palestinians have been shot dead by IDF snipers for demonstrating on the Palestinian side of the border between Israel and Gaza, including Yasser Murtaja, who was clearly wearing a flak jacket identifying him as a journalist when shot. Another 300 or more Palestinians have been wounded by live fire in these demonstrations.
Stating the number of casualties, without appropriate context, has no bearing on morality. Is killing in self-defence immoral all of a sudden?
These were not peaceful demonstrations on the Palestinian side, and were clearly designed to spark conflict with the IDF, but why is “the most moral army in the world” automatically resorting to the use of live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators to quell such protests? It’s not as if the IDF does not have water cannons, tear-gas grenades, rubber bullets and other non-lethal weaponry at its disposal.
Spark conflict? Talk about a major downplaying of the situation. They were trying to storm the borders of a sovereign nation with the express intention of harming its citizens. Try pulling a stunt like that on any border anywhere and see how ‘kindly’ you’re treated.
Or take the example of Elor Azaria, convicted of manslaughter – not murder – for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian terrorist. For this crime, he was initially sentenced by a military court to 18 months in prison, which then was later commuted to 14 months by none other than IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. Exactly what moral lesson is being taught here? That killing a defenseless prisoner only merits a relatively short period of time behind bars?
This was a complex case. You can argue over the length of the sentence but two things you can’t dispute 1. He shot a terrorist who had just stabbed somebody (iirc) 2. If the situation was reversed, not only would the Palestinians not convict the individual, he would be proclaimed a martyr and a national hero! (but yeah, both sides are identical)
These are not examples of a few rotten apples spoiling the rest of the barrel. In Israel’s last major military offensive, Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, along with 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians in Israel. The vast majority of these Palestinian victims were civilians, according to the United Nations. Again, are these the statistics that befit the “most moral army in the world”?
No context. Firstly, United Nations statistics can’t be trusted (Hamas are also known to inflate numbers and disguise their own militia as civilians). Secondly, it’s well documented that Hamas purposely engage Israel with indiscriminate rocket fire from heavily populated civilian territories, effectively using men, women and children as human shields. Why? So they can claim a PR victory by trotting out the numbers of civilian deaths on their ‘own’ side. They care less about the safety of their own populace than Israel does.
And of course, it is the IDF that has been responsible for the past half-century for maintaining Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, controlling the daily lives of millions of Palestinians, and enforcing the blockade of the Gaza Strip, making any chance of reconstruction and economic recovery there extremely unlikely.
The author has once again betrayed his completely biased read of the situation. Not even worth responding to this nonsense.
But the opposite is not true either. None of the above examples turns the IDF into the most immoral army in the world. As Defense Minister Liberman pointed out when defending the IDF’s actions on the border with Gaza: “In the entire region, half a million were murdered in Syria, hundreds of thousands were murdered in Yemen, Libya and Iraq. No one notices…”
So why mention them? He’s basically admitting this is a useless article.
Well, following Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons attack on his own people, the United States, Britain and France rightly responded this weekend, but in general the thrust of Liberman’s argument is correct: Israel is singled out more than other countries for its use of force. But rather than automatically reject such criticism by trotting out ridiculous platitudes such as “the IDF is the most moral army in the world,” we should show the maturity to honestly examine ourselves in the mirror.
Of course. No army is perfect and every army should constantly evaluate their methods and make improvements if required. But to single out Israel for criticism amongst the nations, is bordering on the absurd. In many ways, Israel goes further than any other army which is why the statement rings true.
As we approach Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations later this week, we have much, as the advertisements proclaim, to be proud of. Israel’s accomplishments in so many spheres – from science, medicine and high tech to our world-famous authors, intellectuals and sporting figures – are remarkable for such a small country that has lived all its life under the shadow of war.
We deserve this celebration and should take pride in the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in our ancient homeland. The creation of the State of Israel in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust and our ability to defend ourselves, particularly in the country’s early years, are not something that should be taken for granted.
Like any society, however, not everything is perfect in the land of Israel, from widening social inequality, increasing religious coercion, a dangerous wave of populist nationalism sweeping through the ruling coalition, and our failure to make peace with the Palestinians.
**_No one said “the world’s first perfect army/state” though, did they? **
"Our failure to make peace with the Palestinians" suggests that the lack of peace is Israel’s doing. It also suggests that peace is possible, if only Israel were to do X, Y and Z. Very naive view that doesn’t align with the facts."_
After 70 years of independence, the country’s leadership should be mature enough to recognize this imperfection, and not rely on tired and meaningless clichés to create a false and ultimately damaging self-image. Not everything done in the name of the State of Israel is automatically moral.
Once again, straw man argument. Who said everything Israel does is automatically moral???
As Prof. Yuval Noah Harari, one of Israel’s most famous historians, wisely warns, placing the state above all other values is where fascism takes over from nationalism.
Um, stupid. He doesn’t even know what point he’s trying to make. He flips from “is Israel really moral?” to “well, Israel might not be that bad” to “Israel isn’t perfect” to “Israel are fascist”. Perhaps he should work in the AFL journalism department.