Saturday, October 16, 2004

On Refusal to Serve- Words of Wisdom from Ben Chorin

Ben Chorin posted an excellent response to R. Abraham Shapira's call for Religious soldiers to refuse to obey orders if ordered to evacuate Jews froom Gush Qatif. I share his conflcts. It's well said.

When once Rabbi Akiva, the greatest halachic authority of his time, tried his hand at aggadah, his colleagues responded Akiva, mah lecha etzel aggadah, klach etzel nega'im ve-ohalos! which very roughly translates as "What business do you have with agaddah? Stick to the technical stuff!" (Sanhedrin 38b). Their point was that even the greatest expert in halachah is not necessarily a master of all disciplines. Rabbi Akiva's foray into politics also did not end well. (He was the leader of the Bar Kokhba Revoly,-GbP)

I mention this because it has been reported that former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Avraham Kahana-Shapira and about 50 other Rabbanim in the Kooknik wing of the dati-leumi camp have called on their numerous students serving in the IDF to refuse orders to evacuate Jews from Azza. Now, I have posted earlier that I am convinced that all the reasons proffered by the government for evacuating Azza are bogus. It's a bad idea. But for influential Rabbis to call for mass refusal to obey orders is a way worse idea. Mass refusal will cause an irreparable rift within the IDF and within the country. Everybody with a gripe will refuse to serve. And even if not, commanders will no longer have the luxury of assuming compliance, which itself is debilitating enough to render an army ineffective.

Here are the arguments offered in favor of, nevertheless, calling for mass refusal (along with my skeptical comments):

1. The offense being committed is severe enough to justify risking the consequences of refusal.Indeed, were the expulsion simply an ideologically-motivated attempt by a vengeful oligarchy to sacrifice a minority they don't care for, this argument might have merit. Such things happen around here, but I don't think this is the case now. Of course, those who believe that any withdrawal is by definition an ideological offense, regardless of the circumstances, view things differently.

2. That this is a bluff designed to force the government's hand; it isn't intended to be realized.What if it fails? Worse, what if it succeeds?

3. The left started.This is oh so true. Amos Oz and Yossi Sarid swore that they'd lie in front of the tanks if Arabs were ever expelled. Refusal to serve in Judea and Samaria receives ongoing favorable coverage in the mainstream media. They're a bunch of bastards and they asked for it. Now they're getting it. BUT, spite is a privilege of those who don't wish to wield true power but rather to play the role of kibitzers or, at most, spoilers. If the religious right aspires to more than that, it needs to act responsibly, not just score debating points.

That having been said, what a lousy position to be in!


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