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May 13, 2016 7:42 am

Israel’s Moral Compass Is Just Fine, Thank You

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Memorial Day in Israel. Photo: Wikipedia.

Memorial Day in Israel. Photo: Wikipedia.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has one of the most coveted portfolios in the government, but lately he seems to be vying for a different role – that which involves the upholding of the country’s morals.

This is pretty funny, considering that the Jewish state is under constant attack from regional enemies armed to the teeth and filled with hate, in addition to more geographically distant foes fighting a battle of delegitimization. But it is not the least bit amusing that he chose Memorial Day for fallen IDF soldiers and victims of Arab terrorism – at the gravesite of dead Jewish soldiers and civilians, no less — to reiterate his concern about the ethical character of the Israeli populace.

It was a peculiar eulogy, to say the least, particularly coming from the person in charge of the military.

“Over the past several months, Israel has been confronted with a wave of Palestinian terrorism, which indeed has been on a down-slide of late, but is liable to erupt anew,” Ya’alon said to a massive crowd of mourners at the Kiryat Shaul Cemetery in Tel Aviv. “Even during the difficult moments, in which our blood boils and our rage is high, woe to us if we lose our way and our values, the compromising of which would likely bring Israel to the abyss.”

Lose our way? Compromise our values? Was he joking?

Sadly – and inexplicably — the answer is no, though Ya’alon of all people should know that it is not our “way” or “values” that have been “lost” or “compromised,” but rather our lives. And if anything brings Israel to the brink of the abyss, it will be an Iranian nuclear bomb.

“Exercise force when necessary, but also understand its limits and its ability to lead to a dulling of the senses,” he continued. “Ensure the purity of arms and retain humanity, and let us not lose our heads.”

It seems that Ya’alon is the only one who has lost his head these days, and his mind along with it.

This was the third time in so many months that he made a point of warning Israel against moral turpitude.

The first was when he promptly denounced Elor Azariya – the IDF soldier under indictment for killing a subdued Palestinian terrorist in Hebron – and members of the public who protested on his behalf. “We’re not ISIS,” Ya’alon said, “When there’s a need to kill, we kill. But when it’s someone neutralized or with his hands up, that is the place for preserving our moral compass.”

The second was on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when Ya’alon immediately and unequivocally backed IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan, who suggested that Israel is coming dangerously close to resembling 1930s Germany and called for an annual day of soul-searching, like some kind of secular version of Yom Kippur.

“I have full faith in Golan, a fighter and outstanding commander, high-caliber and praiseworthy,” he said. “The responsibilities of an army officer, especially a senior commander, are not limited to leading soldiers out to war, but also include charting out a path and ethical standards with the help of [his] moral compass.”

The last time I checked, it was the job of the minister of defense to protect Israel’s citizenry from its mortal enemies, by developing and carrying out military strategies to defeat them. It is a mighty challenge on today’s battlefield in the Middle East, to be sure, because the warfare involves multiple fronts and various filthy methods of engagement. These include, but are not restricted to, the use of children, both as human shields and as machete-wielding perpetrators of bloody murder.

The jury is still out on whether Ya’alon is up to the gargantuan task he was appointed to combat, literally and figuratively. Nor is it clear whether anyone in his position would handle the current situation any better. But two things are certain. One is that Ya’alon has no business anointing himself supreme judge of Jewish-state ethics. The other is that Israel’s moral compass is in no need of adjustment.

Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Jonathan Mishkin

    I find it very disappointing that less than one week after Israel honored the victims of its too many wars that Ruthie Blum chooses to trivialize their sacrifices. She uses words like funny and joking to describe the actions of Moshe Yaalon, the current Defense Minister and former Chief of Staff. Say what you want about Israeli politics, but the largest reason, by far, that Israelis enjoy the security that have is because of the Israel Defense Forces. This is the most honored organization in Israeli society; it has earned that honor because of the success, professionalism and, yes, moral behavior of its soldiers.

    I am not familiar with Ms. Blum’s military record. If one exists. But she seems to think that managing an army is easy stuff. Just give them guns and tell them to shoot. As an American, we learned from Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq that fighting wars is not as easy as it looks. Training and discipline are very important. That is what Mr. Yaalon was driving towards.

    Ms. Blum should stop denigrating the efforts and success of the IDF and its leadership. They have easily the most difficult task in Israel.

  • Yaakov

    “Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has one of the most coveted portfolios in the government”

    Speaking of moral compass, throwing the tenth of the Ten Commandments out the door speaks for itself.

  • Ephraim

    Why does this self hater still have his job?

  • Paul

    The authoress of this piece is apparently blind to what is happening to Israeli society today.
    I only hope, Ms. Blum, that the day never comes when you find yourself saying “Oh my God, I didn’t understand, I didn’t see the writing on the wall”.
    Do you approve of shooting prisoners of war – the heroic soldier you so defend arrived at the scene after 11 minutes, and took upon himself to shoot the terrorist on the ground, saying he deserved to die. Do other disabled prisoners deserve to die this way ? Palestininan or Israeli ? Do you approve of burning Mosques and Churches, and writing “Mohammed is a Pig” on the burned walls ? If you agree with these behaviors, and worse, you should continue the tone and accusations you arer making. If you do not condone them, you should have the courage to Join those who speak out against fascist hate crimes, and who believe our use of weapons and our killing the enemy should be kept morally justified.
    There was recently a parade of young Jews in East Jerusalem, at night, carrying burning torches and chanting “Death to the Arabs”.Ms. Blum – is this what you approve of ? Is this how you want all Israelis to behave, or do you perhaps think (like those you are attacking) that such behavior betrays Israel ? When leaders who maintain the moral compass that makes us worth saving speak out – YOU brand them ?
    The people you are branding have served the country unquestionably, and have killed those who came to kill us. They do NOT need you to justify what they do or say, they have proven themselves to be totally devoted to the welfare of Israel. So, if they also point out BAD behaviors, it would perhaps be wiser on your part to understand their point of view, rather than run them down.

  • Anschel

    Ruthie, well stated! Thank you!

  • allen miller

    “The essence of war is violence. Moderation in war is imbecility.”
    ___ Admiral of the Fleet John Arbuthnot Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher

    Admiral Fisher served 60+ years in the Royal Navy. I trust his vast experience across the globe, leading to his ascension to the highest rank within the Royal Navy gives his opinion considerable weight.

    Ya’alon obfuscates and erects giant straw-men; the result is a bottom line that is hopelessly silly, almost senile on occasion.

    The intemperate commentary of Maj. Gen. Golan has caused irreparable damage to Israel and Zionism across the globe. Whether he was misunderstood no longer matters because international media is already using his insane comparison with Nazi Germany against Israel, as any rational person should have anticipated.