Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Israel Defense Force
צבא הגנה לישראל צה"ל
was known as the great equalizer. Everyone, or almost everyone, was conscripted and the experience of living together, fighting together and possibly dying together made comrades out of an unlikely collection of immigrants and natives alike. Everyone knew who the enemy was and the purpose of the army was to fight the enemy and protect the country. Tzahal (IDF) was called 'the people's army' because aside for almost universal conscription, soldiers were also called up for reserve duty yearly (many times even more frequently) until they were well into middle age.
The summer of 2005 brought a major change in the concept of the IDF. Instead of fighting a common enemy, Arik Sharon and his government used the IDF turn Jewish citizens out of their homes.in Gush Katif and the Shomron. A democratic country has the right to enforce laws but the body which is charged with enforcing those laws are the police. Members of the police force choose their career and can resign for personal or professional reasons. Not so, the conscripted soldier. Many soldiers serving during the disengagement were put in an intolerable position. There was talk of refusing to carry out orders and a few incidents where this happened.
Apart from strongly opposing the disengagement itself I believe that this cynical and sinister use of the army is anti-democratic and harmful to our society. There has been a lot of talk lately of regrets and apologies and attempts to 'make it up' to the people displaced by the disengagement. Along with that we should do ourselves a favor and make sure that our soldiers never have to face the decision of whether to follow an order to turn a Jew out of his home. This should be a major issue brought before the Knesset and legally prohibited.
Last Thursday night two soldiers registered their opposition to the IDF's continued use of soldiers in carrying out government policy against Jewish revenants (settlers who return to their homes) in Chomesh in the Shomron. I agree with their sentiments wholeheartedly but I believe that the army can not be used as a forum for political ideology. I do not want the security of our country to depend upon the willingness of individual soldiers to carry out orders. It just can't work that way. Those soldiers will have to face the consequences of their actions.
The rest of us will have to sort this out and fast. Now is the time to demand of our democratic system to take this debate out of the military once and for all before it leads to further deterioration of the consensus.