IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz speaking January 2014.
(photo credit: ADI COHEN ZEDEK)
All of Israeli society should take part in military service, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said on Tuesday.
Gantz used a speech he delivered to fresh Ground Forces officers at the Bahad 1 Officer Training School in the South to add his voice to the national debate on whether the government should force ultra-Orthodox men to serve in the army and penalize those who do not.
Gantz said, “We in the IDF are proud to carry the burden of this mission [of serving]. From here, the call ‘after me’ has always been made, and must be made today.
From here, it’s right that the Israeli public hears a call to all youths to rise and serve their homeland.”
The chief of staff added, “You, the cadets, are the pillar of fire in front of the camp, and after you, I call on the sons of all the [recruitment] cycles and the various shades of Israeli society to come and play your part in the service of the people and the land. The gift you will give your homeland will remain with you your whole life. Dear parents, in the public sphere, the discussion is called ‘equality in sharing the burden.’ We call it the right to serve, and for this right, we must fight.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attended the ceremony, and said, “You, the officers of the IDF, come from all over the land and from all parts of the nation. I’d like to see on this field of formations a more equal representation of all parts of our society. It’s right and just for everyone. And we’re presently moving in this direction.”
The prime minister noted calls made by mobs in Iran for the destruction of Israel during commemorations of the Islamic Republic’s 35th year, and said that the “desire to eliminate the Jewish people from its homeland did not pass from the world with the establishment of the state. What has changed is our ability to resist against those who seek our demise and to thwart their intentions.”