The Necessity for a Heroic Jewish Army
At my daughters’ school last week, the Israel Defense Forces musical ensemble came to share the spirit of the youth of Israel with the popular and traditional songs that they perform at army bases in Israel. Following school there was a discussion at home about Israel’s need for an army, with my daughter asking normal “kid-type” questions about good vs. evil and why is it necessary for Israel to have an army.
No easy discussion, but one which has to be had in every Jewish Zionist home – and with all of the enemies Israel faces worldwide the army of Israel is a necessity. In 1932, the Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote: “It is very, very sad that Jews are compelled to learn to shoot. But we are compelled and it is useless to argue against the compulsion of historic reality. That compulsion says you may be well educated, you may learn to plow the land and to build houses, you may speak Hebrew… but if you do not at the same time know how to shoot there is no hope. That is the lesson of the reality of our time and that is the prospect for the lifetime of our children.”
80 years later, the same applies – no one celebrates the need but all celebrate the existence.
When we discuss the Israel Defense Forces, it’s necessary also to remember the words of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war.”
“Where it is a question of war you do not stand and ask questions as to what is ‘better’, whether to shoot or not to shoot. The only permissible question in such circumstances is on the contrary ‘what is worse’, to let yourself be killed or enslaved without any resistance or to undertake resistance with all its horrible question? For there is no ‘better’ at all. Everything connected with war is bad, and cannot be “good.” When you shoot at enemy soldiers do not lie to yourself or persuade yourself that you are shooting at guilty ones. If you start calculating with what is “better” the calculation is very simple; if you want to be good let yourself be killed and renounce everything you would like to defend: home, country, freedom, hope. The blackest of all characteristics is the tradition of the cheapness of Jewish blood,” Jabotinsky wrote.
Now only 70 years have passed since the Holocaust, and protecting the Jewish people is a primary goal of the State of Israel. “People think the Holocaust ended,” Ben-Zion Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s recently deceased father said in 2009. “The Holocaust didn’t end. It continues all the time.”
With Iran, the Palestinians, and many other Jewish enemies worldwide these words must be heeded. Unfortunately reality demands that there must be a Jewish army, and that we need to educate our children from a young age about the purpose of Zionism and the need for Jews to defend themselves and support those who fight on their behalf.