Israel’s resolute reserves

Published in The Jerusalem Post on April 5, 2002

The official count is 92 percent. Ninety-two percent (!) of conscripted IDF reservists reported as required for combat duty this week. So much for the ballyhooed “movement” in support of conscientious objection. Hurray for the common sense of the Israeli public!


Close to 29,000 reservists turned up on time for real warfare against the evil Palestinian Authority – an accomplishment calculated by the IDF Spokesman at the request of *The Jerusalem Post* and reported here for the first time. This resounding accomplishment is all the more impressive given the defeatism, negativism and general melancholy that has been served up non-stop for months by our largely Leftist press.


Day after day, we have been told by countless newspaper and TV commentators and their ideological allies in Meretz and Labor’s left-wing that “there is no nothing a democracy can really do against suicide bombers” and that “there is no solution short of a return to negotiations with Arafat”.


The “average Israeli” will not go battle and risk his life for “a bunch of settlers”, warned Yossis Beilin and Sarid, as the army prepared for action. “Many Israelis” – “enlightened” Israelis of course — “will simply refuse to go to battle for Sharon”, they declared.


Learned sociologists and political scientists from our academic elites cautioned that IDF reserves could no longer be counted upon in today’s post-Zionist, individualist Israeli society. “Personal fulfillment”, not sacrifice for the collective cause, is the rule in Israel today, they intoned.


Take a look at the newest issue, just published, of the international journal *Armed Forces and Society*. A group of leading Israeli professors counsels against reliance on Israel’s “very delicate” and “strained” reserve force. IDF reserves are in “crisis”, they whine.


FORTUNATELY, the Israeli public this week demonstrated once again that it has more common sense and deep-rooted Zionist commitment than our weak-willed media and washed-out intellectual elites. Friends and colleagues calling from the field or returning home after a first stint of fighting on reserve duty, tell a unified story: turnout and morale in the reserves never has been higher.


“Three guys in our battalion, in their early forties with ponytails, reported a day late, apologizing profusely”, relates a friend who is a reservist paratrooper. “They had just begun a vacation in Eilat and had to scramble back. Even the battalion truck drivers, cooks, lawyers and rabbis showed up, burning with a desire to ‘get the job done’. These guys never show up for training exercises. But now, everybody feels we are in a justified war of self-defense”.


Apparently, the plain folk can plainly see what the sophisticates prefer not to: that Yasser Arafat’s fiefdom has become a revanchist terrorist conglomerate ruining our lives; that the Palestinian public indeed wishes Israel’s destruction, not just our withdrawal to the Green Line; and that large-scale military action to hunt down Palestinian assassins and their supporters is exceedingly moral.


Mr. Average Israeli understands that a hypocritical world expected us to assimilate an insidious double standard: what is good and right in the international war against terrorism, is inappropriate and illegal for Israel. We, the silent but unbowed majority in this country, understand that aside from U.S. President George W. Bush, the world is prepared to abandon us to suicide bombers. The hairs under Yasser Arafat’s keffiyah are of much greater concern to the international community.


(If you haven’t yet sent a message of appreciation to Bush at — do so today!)


Sure enough, the shameful double standard persists. Armed Palestinian terrorists can hide out in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity – but the Vatican condemns Israel for besieging the building! Can you imagine the hue and cry across Christendom had the IDF appropriated the holy Church for its operations?


YOU MIGHT SUPPOSE that the powerful message of national consensus, resilience and conviction signaled by this week’s almost enthusiastic reserve call-up would silence the “Israel-is-wrong-and-morally-adrift” crowd among us.


But no. Peace Now, Meretz, Yesh Gvul and a half-dozen other fringe factions have deserted the battlefield, seeking still to undermine the government and to sap our national will at a time of war.


Maimonides rules that in wartime, the conventions of free society change (Laws of Kings 7:15). “Deserters and others who enfeeble the public in times of war assume blame for all the casualties of Israel. Desertion leads to defeat. Any citizen who demonstratively refrains from giving his best to the war effort — it is as if he slew his brethren himself. Recall Deuteronomy 20:3 ‘When you are near to the battle, let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble’.”


“In war, whatever the cause”, exhorts Maimonides, “the soldier must strive to put aside all thoughts and calculations that frighten. Think not of your wife or children. Focus on the fighting task alone. Go forward and rely on the Rock and Rescuer of Israel”.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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