15 May '16..
Columnist Nahum Barnea's piece in Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday, about his fear of religiously observant IDF soldiers' and commanders' faith taking over, can be summed up by these sentences: "It could be that 10 years from now, the entire General Staff will look like [Col. Ofer] Winter. We need to act before it's too late." This continues Barnea's fear over the process of "heroization" taking place in the IDF.
A large picture hangs on the wall of the offices of the major general Barnea visited, which shows three of our air force jets flying over a Polish death camp. Barnea can't help himself, and launches what he calls an "embarrassing" conversation about why it was even necessary to fly over Auschwitz. To him, it's vital that we understand the message, so he quotes an academic, Professor Yehuda Bauer, who deemed the flyover "childish and unnecessary. Cemeteries are for weeping, not for holding showcase flyovers." We should mention here that the commander of the flight was Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, today head of the Israeli Air Force, and it was then-IAF commander Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkedi who distributed the image. Neither of them is observant.
What irks Barnea? And how does this relate to Tzvi Bar'el's battle cry in Haaretz about the necessity of a military revolution, despite that the two calls contradict each other? Let's go back to the days Barnea is talking about, the days of Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. The deep worry for the soldiers' safety was expressed in many ways. Some of us, obviously, prayed, while others paced like caged lions. And there were officers, like Winter, commander of the Givati Brigade, who chose to encourage and spur on their troops before heading into battle through prayer: "I lift my eyes to heaven and call out, together with you: Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 'Lord God of Israel, grant success to the path on which we walk and stand to fight for Your nation Israel against the foe that blasphemes Your name. In the name of IDF soldiers and especially the soldiers and commanders of this brigade ... together, and only together, will we win."
What defect of morality or command did Barnea find in Winter's words? He responds: "Winter was mixed up. He didn't understand who had sent him on his mission and where his orders came from. He wasn't the only one who got confused. In 10 years, the entire General Staff could look like Winter."
But worse luck for Barnea, an Israel Prize laureate -- this year, Rabbi Eli Sadan was also awarded the prestigious prize. The rabbi has revolutionized the perception of integrating faith with important IDF service. Many of the military's commanders and fighters went though the pre-army preparatory programs on their way to senior positions in the IDF. One of the standout graduates of Sadan's Bnei David preparatory program was none other than Winter.
I'm against revolutions. I'm in favor of social processes that grow without being expedited. If it looks like they are portending evil, they should be nipped in the bud. So what do we do about large sections of society going back to their roots? What remedy does Barnea intend to give against people holding fast to the main source of strength in holding on to the country we came to from the Diaspora -- the Bible and its main character, God? I won't be taking much of a risk if I say that there won't be any military revolution, and no remedy is needed, either.
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