Further to a recent post dealing with the revelation that at lest 25% Israeli youth do not want, or are not able, to serve in the military, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, made a remark that the current attitudes of young Israelis towards their country’s military service is “nothing short of treason and should be treated as such”.
Speaking during a conference on military security at Tel Aviv University, in which deceased and former Haaretz military correspondent Zeev Schiff was being memorialized, Barak added that current attitudes in which young people feel that they are “friers” or suckers if they serve in the army is turning the military from a “peoples’ army” to an army of only “half the people”. Barak said that the country needs to go back to it’s former mentality when serving in the military was a source of pride and not doing do was subject to severe castigation.
One might ask whether Israelis are interested in having an armed forces similar to that in either the USA or in most European countries (including the UK) where enlistment is purely voluntary and conscription, otherwise known as ‘the draft’ is no longer used. So-called “professional” armies have resulted in the severe manpower strain that is currently being felt in both the U.S. and British military forces, both of whom have to continuously rotate troupe units in an out of Iraq and other places due to an acute shortage of available manpower.
Professional military forces may be acceptable to a county who is not surrounded by hostile elements bent on its destruction. Israel is a small country of only 7,000,000, from which only a few hundred thousand men of military age are available to serve in its armed forces; and at least half of those are men serving in reserve units. Compare that to many Arab countries in which a much greater number of recruitible manpower is available to serve in their military forces, including many willing to commit martyrdom, i.e., lay down their own lives for what they believe in.
Israel will never be in a situation in which its young men and women will be expected to become martyrs in the same sense as their enemies are. There should be, however, a return to the country’s previous mentality when, as former prime minister and Likud Party chairman Binyamin Natanyahu said, following the outbreak of the Lebanon II war: ” we are all soldiers in the State of Israel”.
Indeed, whether in the military or not, people living in Israel are “all soldiers”; and the situation in regards to the country’s beginning in 1948 is still as perilous as it was then when the entire Arab Legion was intent on driving the fledgling Jewish entity into the sea.
Friers? Draft dodgers? Hopefully, both the Israeli government and it’s military leaders will find ways to wave both the proverbial carrot and stick in front of those about to inducted into the country’s military forces, as well as those who serve in military reserve units. The ‘carrot’ represents feelings of pride and commitment, and the ‘stick’ being the embarrassment and shame for those able bodied people not serving, including those who are exempted for ‘religious reasons’.
Israel only has one military; and that military is the only line of defense between the Israeli people and the multitudes bent on destroying her.