'Israelis unconcerned with rise in religious IDF officers'

Survey finds public not so bothered about growing number of IDF commanders and officers who stem from the national-religious camp.

September 15, 2010 06:59
1 minute read.
religious soldiers 248.88

religious soldiers 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

A majority of the public is not concerned with the growing number of IDF commanders and officers who stem from the national-religious camp, according to a survey by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University.

Some 79 percent of the respondents said they were not “concerned at all” with the growing number of religious officers in the IDF, in contrast to 1 percent who said they were very concerned.

The study was conducted ahead of a conference to be held Wednesday in conjunction with the Kinneret Institute for Society, Security and Peace Research on the challenge the IDF faces given the growing number of religious commanders in its ranks.

In other findings, 90% of those surveyed claimed that at least a few officers would refuse orders to evacuate settlements in the West Bank, with 33% saying that “many” officers would refuse orders. Ten percent said that not a single officer would refuse orders.

Over the past decade, almost each graduation class from Bahad 1 – the IDF Officer Training School – featured a large number of kippot, usually about 25 percent of the class. In the Golani Brigade, commander Col.

Ofek Buhris is religious, as are five of the other seven senior officers in the brigade.

The survey was conducted in August and questioned 520 people over the age of 18. The survey has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

Dr. Reuven Gal from the Kinneret Institute said that the decision to hold the conference comes amid seemingly growing religious characteristics in the IDF. He said the public’s seeming lack of concern with the increasing number of religious officers was surprising.

“The IDF has always tried to neutral when it comes to religion and politics,” Gal said. “But this growing phenomenon could raise predicaments for the military – for example with the possibility of more refusal of orders.”

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