By: HaRav Menashe Sasson
Reporting from Jerusalem, Israel
Published in the U.S.A.
During a recent public speech at Ben Gurion University, Aviv Kochavi, the Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), reportedly said that “[o]nly the commanders in the IDF will determine its . . . orders. . . ” See, Military Misconduct from Hebron. In other words, General Kochavi was saying that only [I, Aviv Kochavi, commander of] the commanders in the IDF and not Israel’s democratically-elected political leaders, “will determine [the IDF’s] orders.”
Such a public repudiation by the highest-ranking military officer in a self-described democratic country is nothing short of amazing; it’s the type of statement one might typically expect from a third-world military dictatorship, not a Western-style democracy which possess nuclear weapons. Even the generals of the most totalitarian Communist countries would never publicly repudiate civilian control over a county’s military.
Less than a week later, it was leaked that General Kochavi, after apparently not having been disciplined for his public repudiation of civilian control over the IDF, “doubled-down” on that position when he reportedly said that he “won’t allow any [civilian] interference in the appointment of IDF generals. There is no possibility of this happening.”
The purpose of a county’s military is, in the arena of foreign affairs, to use force to defend the country’s sovereignty and to advance the country’s foreign political objectives. Thus, civilian control over a democratic county’s military must include – by definition – that elected civilian political leaders not merely be involved in the selection of its country’s generals, but that these civilian political leaders have the final say in selection the country’s generals.
General Kochavi’s lack of understanding, at best, or refusal to accept, at worst, civilian political control of the IDF is both troubling and dangerous. It is simply not acceptable for a military officer, especially one who controls nuclear weapons, to refuse to accept civilian political control over the military. It is for this reason that General Kochavi should immediately be relieved of his command and stripped of his rank.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO READERS: This article is not, and should not be interpreted as, an indictment of the Holy Land of Israel (חס ושלום); rather, this article merely highlights an aspect of the secular government of the State of Israel that is in dire need of reform. “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government [only] when it deserves it.” Mark Twain.
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