Is the IDF getting too Jewish?
Day-to-day operations in the Israel Defense Force often expose soldiers to a host of ideological conflicts: between settlers and Palestinians, right- and left-wing perspectives on a two-state solution, and of course, as has been in the news a lot lately, between secular and religious Jews. The IDF itself mandates a “code of ethics and ideological agnosticism,” soldiers told the Christian Science Monitor. However, reports the paper, recently there have been signs of encroaching religious ideas; chief military rabbi Avichai Rontzki and his representatives have been spotted trolling military bases for soldiers interested in chatting about how “the ‘holiness of the people of Israel’ would keep them safe,” passing out pamphlets offering biblical justification for merciless treatment of Palestinians, and insisting on monthly Torah discussions. And while when it comes to war, says one expert, “meaning must be given” for the destruction and force necessary, what Rontzki has been implementing “is way beyond the limits.” Between the fact that, as the CSM reports, “nationalist religious conscripts have replaced soldiers from secular farming kibbutzim, and have risen to be mid-level officers,” and the recent call from Religious Zionist rabbi Shlomo Aviner to exclude non-Jews from service (as per Maimonides, he claims), the army may have to watch out before it loses its tenuous commitment to neutrality.