Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Soldiers' Answer for Elor Azariya

Every soldier, when he or she comes to that first interview after receiving notification that they are being drafted in to the Israel Defense Forces is given a profile number. A rating of his or her physical health. The best he or she can get is 97 - it's a part of Israeli/Jewish culture that I love. There is no one perfect in the world. No one will get 100. My sons all were given 97.

I didn't know if I should laugh or cry when they came home and told me.

"Math, science, Torah, Mishna - on THESE tests I wanted 97," I said to each one. "On this one? On this you had to bring me 97???" I knew what 97 meant...and believe me. The automatic reaction is a mixture of pride and terror. Other numbers are accepted, but 97 is almost automatically viewed as potential combat material.

It is almost an unwritten law that those with 97 are asked the next question, about serving in a combat unit. There is a certain level of prestige that goes with the soldiers that agree to be placed in one of these units. It is an honor that they carry for years and years. These units are, for the most part, the most visible elements of the army.

We see them on the streets with their guns, their red or black boots. Paratroopers don't know how to tuck their shirts in; combat soldiers in general seem to be unable to put a coat on, no matter what the weather is. They won't pin their berets. Oh no, not our combat soldiers. There's a way they wear nearly everything that announces who they are, and they carry that with them wherever they go in pride. We are the combat soldiers of Israel.

They are divided into different divisions - Golani, Givati, Artillery, Kfir. There are other units but these are the first that come to mind. Each division has subdivisions, elite units, even secret units.

Elie was Artillery, Shmulik and Chaim were Kfir, Yakov and David were/are Givati - all except David finished with honor, served with pride. David is half way through. One more year. He serves with honor. He serves with pride.

"Do you want to be a combat soldier?" Each of my soldiers, my precious sons, agreed. They would serve this land, fight for it. This morning, the military court stabbed our soldiers in the back, as did the Chief of Staff, current and former.

Tomorrow, the army will have to face a new reality. It is not only Elor Azariya that was slapped in the face, but every soldier who stands on our borders with a gun. They have been told that they must now, in the middle of a battle, stop and think what some idiot judge will think of their action.

Gone is the "follow me" attitude and in its place is "We'll come AFTER you if we want to." If politics requires it, if the Chief of Staff wants a photo op and a judge wants the chance to lecture a family for over two hours.

So, here's the deal, now that you have devastated the morale of our soldiers. From this point onward, all soldiers, when asked, "will you serve as a combat soldier, should answer, "No, because of Elor Azariya, I do not agree to be a combat soldier."

That simple. There's your answer. No.

My youngest soldier is in a combat unit. He will finish his service to this land. I am eternally grateful that he is my youngest soldier and so that I will not be faced with this choice ever again. No. You cannot take 18 year old boys, not train them properly, put them in a situation in which they fear for their lives, and then charge them for acting against a terrorist. Right or wrong, that dead man was a terrorist who had just stabbed a soldier. Elor Azariya did not stab an innocent, unarmed man. He shot a terrorist who had not been properly neutralized in a scene that had not been "sterilized."

His commanding officers should be removed; the Chief of Staff fired. The answer from this courts this morning is that they would rather take action against your son and mine, better punish an 18-year-old soldier than assign responsibility as needed.

So if you have a son who is about to be drafted...and if he has a high profile - have him practice this phrase...

"No, I will not be your next Elor Azariya. I do not agree to be in a combat unit. I will not go into a situation in which my life is endangered and I am ordered not to defend myself. No."

Elor Azariya was betrayed - by the media, which we expected; by the defense ministry and higher echelons, which we did not. He was betrayed by his commanding officers and today he was betrayed by the military courts.

I encourage the judges to draft their sons and grandsons to combat units; isn't it interesting that Bibi Netanyahu's sons didn't serve in combat? How many of those self-righteous media personalities served in the army? How many have risked the lives of their children in combat units. No, mine served but you will not get others.

Go for it, dear reporters of the Times of Israel, Haaretz, etc. put YOUR son's life on the line. Send your sons into Arab neighborhoods with orders not to shoot a terrorist who has just stabbed a soldier. Risk your son's life, not mine.

No, they will not serve.

This will be the legacy of Elor Azariya; this will be the legacy for Elor. No.


Anonymous said...

I agreed with everything until your last statement. NO means no soldiers, no army and no defense. Sort of like spilling out the bathwater with the baby. We do not have that luxury. Man up, pick yourself up, keep on writing articles that show the irresponsibility of the Chief of Staff and his hysterical legal team and let us pray that the world will stop obsessing about Israel

Cody Flecker said...

The State of Israel is maturing. No longer are Israelis able to go into a terrorists lair and act as if the entire country's life is at stake. Now the State of Israel has to worry what the world thinks every time an Israeli soldier goes into harms way. The Terrorists know this and they play it up to their advantage every time.

There was a time when there were men and woman who served in such illustrious units as the Stern Gang, and the Irgun who literally risked their lives in order to save Jewish civilians from harm. The State of Israel rejected these magnificent heroes in favor of a more civil approach to fighting thse types of battles. Perhaps if the old Revisionists would come back, there wouldn't be these stains on the honor of every IDF member. Maybe one day, every Israeli will be proud once again to call themselves members of an army that truly cares for its soldiers. There is always hope.

Anthony Jacobs said...

I also served in a combat unit. The courtalso betrayed me. A nauseating verdict, that must be quashed on appeal.

Anonymous said...

Is the account in the news that Azaria said to one of his fellow soldiers, "He deserves to die" accurate? Was that the testimony given by his fellow soldier?

Anonymous said...

You are wrong. If you watch the video it is clear it was a revenge killing (15mins after the attack), he was angry (justifiably) but it was not an act of self-defence. Unfortunately, Elor made a mistake. Revenge executions are not something the IDF, a Jewish army should condone. Pardoning him is encouraging others to follow suit in similar situations. He had no orders to shoot the half-dead terrorist. Soldiers should be commanded to 'shoot to kill' but once the terrorist has been neutralised there is a protocol.
So although he deserved to be court-martialled and his actions warrant a punishment, the sentence should take the situation into consideration.

dafutbolgenius - said...

You are wrong. Elor carried out a revenge killing. It was 15 mins after the attack. He was angry-justifiably- but his reaction was not one the IDF, a Jewish Army, should condone. Pardoning him would encourage others, in similar situations, to do the same.

Yes, soldiers should be told 'shoot to kill' but once the terrorist is completely neutralised, such as in this case, it is not a soldier's job to play executioner. "They have been told that they must now, in the middle of a battle, stop and think what some idiot judge will think of their action." He was under no threat, it was not in the heat of the battle. Obviously that would be completely different! It was not self-defence...

I sympathise with him and his family to an extent but he should not be let off the hook. I hope they taken into consideration the situation he was in and that he receives a reduced sentence. However, he knew what he did was wrong and he must pay for that mistake.

moshe muzari said...

While your arguments warrant strong standpoints,each soldier is part of a chain of command in any civilian army that is not part of a ruling junta and taking into account that the soldier acted individually without an order from his commander makes him responsible for his actions. No military can tolerate insubordination especially when the said soldier commented by saying "he deserves to die" after the said attacker had been neutralised.

Joanna Shebson said...

I didn't know how to put my thoughts into words but you did a great job. I worry about the moral of the soldiers, the way the world media is happy to twist this story to criticize Israel and ultimately how this effects each of us who have kids who will enter the army. You can only be true to democracy when you deal with enemies who are democratic. Otherwise your democratic ideals will get our children killed. So sad!

Anonymous said...

I know that you won't allow this post past moderation but at least read it.

I'm not for a second questioning a soldiers right to act on a certain situation. Specifically in this sort of scenario, where the IDF is constantly afraid of being stabbed by a stranger in the street that pretends to ask for directions or their help.
An Israeli judge ruled, and i quote.. that the person the solider shot was "badly injured, and posing no threat". As a solider in a democracy as amazing as Israel, the rule of law should be followed to a T.

While the Palestinian had committed a crime, he was no longer a threat, and should have been arrested and taken into custody. It is not for the Israeli army to play judge jury and executioner. That is what they do in autocratic states, and not the democratic land of Israel. Everyone has a right to a trial, not a right to be shot in the street.

This sort of behaviour would not be tolerated in the UK or the US army, it was a revenge killing, and not the Israeli or Jewish way. I for one, am proud that Israel is a strong enough country, to hold it's head up after a situation like this, and do the right thing, to process these actions in a caught of law. Even when the situation is tough, we can't turn to this sort of behaviour. Once you do, you become the same as the thing you are fighting against. He was a soldier not a vigilante.

Nobody is saying that Israeli soldiers do not have a right to defend themselves.

If a man runs at you with a knife you eliminate that threat. If a man is lying on the floor injured from the first shot, and no longer posing a threat. You do not have the right to take away that individuals life.

A Soldier's Mother said...

Whatever he said at the moment that he saw his friend had been stabbed is less of an issue that what he did and what he believed. We know that a commanding officer ordered another soldier to watch the Palestinian terrorist and "shoot him if he moves" - that being the case, it would appear the protocol was to shoot if the terrorist moved because it was assumed he still presented a possible threat.

You weren't there. I wasn't there. Without question, the commanding officers should be thrown out of the army. They broke so many army rules, it is mind boggling how the army hasn't done that. But I guess they were so busy making this 18 year old kid their scapegoat they haven't gotten around to it.

If Azarya had shot an innocent person - go for it. But he shot a terrorist who amazingly enough was still wearing a jacket on a warm day and could EASILY have been hiding a bomb or a weapon.

I don't know about you, but I"m not willing to sacrifice my son's life for the political careers of a bunch of politicians and generals. You wanna put my son in the field, give him the training and the right to defend himself.

If the chain of command failed here, it was because the commanding officers failed to secure the scene. In Israel, when something happens, the officers step forward like the men the Chief of Staff claims them to be. Instead, they are pointing fingers at this boy.

If I had a soldier going into the army - I would tell him NOT to accept being put in a combat unit. My oldest son has fought in TWO wars for this country. With this type of mentality, I am fully prepared to encourage them NOT to volunteer further.

Chana said...

The claim that Elor said that was made by his commanding officer IN CONTRADICTION to said officer's own initial testimony

former female combat soldier said...

I somehow agree. As a female who served 3 years (combat)

We still have to defend our land and people.
But the officers should be taking responsibility and learn to defend their soldiers.
(Bibi's second son is serving in a combat unit.)

Anonymous said...

This was no self defense ... It was an execution in cold blood.
The soldier shot the Palestinian while he was laying wounded on the ground for over 10 minutes. Just look at the video.
I was a combat medic in the IDF's paratrooper unit, and what I was taught was to save lives, even of your enemies when they are not longer a threat.
That is the Jewish way.
What that soldier did was against IDF's moral code, IDF's rules of engagement, against Judaism, and universally immoral.
And by the way the soldier was a medic, and he should have treated the Palestinian's wounds (also according to IDF's doctrine, and again I know this since I was a medic). Here is the Video in case you haven't seen it (shooting around 1:50):
I am very proud of our judicial system that was not deterred by the political pressure, and I feel justice has been done.

SafeNSharp said...

Troops kill, they don't arrest.

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