Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Monday, January 03, 2005  

Policy Mutiny

The Israeli army is facing an interesting dilemma. This is the first time I can think of a modern army of a democracy rebelling in large enough numbers regarding a government policy.

In some respects, I find the prospect reassuring.

Orthodox officers lead military revolt against Israeli withdrawal

TEL AVIV — The planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank in 2005 will have to overcome mass disobedience from within the military, including the General Staff.

Officials said the opposition to the withdrawal stemmed from the rising influence of Orthodox Jews in the military.

Many senior officers are Orthodox Jews and have objected to the military's participation in the withdrawal operation.

So far, about 5,000 people have signed a petition saying they would not participate in any military operation to expel Israelis from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. Organizers said the number of standing army soldiers, reservists and officers who would disobey orders could increase by ten-fold over the next six months.


Soldier fires shots in outpost scuffle

The incident began at approximately 4 p.m. when a teenage girl was spotted trying to puncture the tires of an IDF jeep. A soldier inside the car saw her and jumped out to stop her. The girl, an activist of the radical Kahana Chai movement, ran towards a group of settlers and hid behind them.

The soldier approached, demanding that the settlers hand the girl over. As he neared, the soldier raised his weapon, saying he would shoot if the settlers approached, according to an eye witness.

"After the girl ran up to a group of people I was standing with, the soldier advanced towards us, cocked his weapon and pointed it directly at my head. He told us to release the girl. He lifted the gun only a centimeter or two above my head and fired," said Yitzhar resident Ephraim Ben-Shochat in a telephone interview.

The settlers then moved in, grabbing the muzzle of the soldier's M-16 and yanking it downwards, according to Berenstock, who said he investigated the incident. Apparently, at some point in the scuffle the soldier managed to get off a few shots before being wrestled to the ground, according to Berenstock and Ben-Shochat.

Responding to the incident, Itamar Ben Gvir, spokesman of the extreme right-wing Kach movement, said that "the soldier who opened fire today signaled the start of the major campaign against disengagement." Some among his group said on Monday that the violence will lead to "a type of civil war."

I have no dog in this fight, but I find it a marvel that citizen soldiers in enough numbers can affect policy in this way. Imagine if a third of the police force in New York City, for example (about 16,000 people, I believe) suddenly decided not to enforce some particular law.

I believe that it is better for a democratic nation to suffer the will of a great many people from time to time who will not go along with bureaucrats and politicians. After awhile, any government and its minions assume a kind of passivity in the population which encourages them to act as they please rather than as to how the people want it.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:41 PM |