Aug 17: Obeying orders

The government's foolishness is not an excuse for a soldier to disobey his commander's orders.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Obeying orders Sir, - Moshe Dann, and others, say that soldiers shouldn't obey orders to participate in military operations to remove Jews from their homes because the purpose of the IDF is to protect the existence of the State of Israel, not to expel Jews from their homes in the land of Israel (Letter, August 13). He is wrong, because the government orders the expulsion of Jews because it claims to believe that the expulsion is part of a program needed to protect the existence of the country. I believe that the expulsion program is part of a foolish policy that will increase rather than reduce the danger to Israel. But the government's foolishness is not an excuse for a soldier to disobey his commander's orders. Moshe Dann, and the many who agree with him, are trying to squirm out of an unpleasant fact. If Jews have a country it will have to have a government, and that government will sometimes do foolish, destructive things. But to keep our country we have to participate in its army and obey its orders. In order to change the government or its policy people have to make the sacrifices required to produce effective political majorities - either changing some of their ideas or doing the work and relationship-building required to change others' ideas. A minority, however idealistic, cannot separate itself from the majority, however flaccid, and claim the right to reject the majority's decisions as illegitimate. God set rules for us as individuals, but he made us free to make decisions, including the decision not to obey the rules - subject to His punishment. God may have made rules forbidding a Jewish state to expel Jews from their homes in the land of Israel. (I think any such rule would be subject to military and diplomatic necessity.) But we cannot avoid having a government which may break the rules. When someone who wants to live in a Jewish country thinks the government is breaking God's rules, he or she has to face the unpleasant fact of being implicated in breaking God's rules. The choice is between deciding not to have a Jewish country because its government may or does break God's rules - although God seems to have told us to have one - or living with the country's sin, if that is really what it is, until politics can stop the sinning. MAX SINGER Jerusalem One year here Sir, - August 16 is a year since I made aliya. To demonstrate my acculturation, I'd like to join in the favorite Israeli sport of telling everyone what to do. My top four suggestions: • President Peres, architect of Oslo, should get out of the peace-making business. We continue to reap the bitter fruits of his last try. • PM Olmert should "go home." How can he negotiate anything good for us considering his talent for mismanagement, from Gaza to Lebanon? • The haredim in Beit Shemesh who are behaving violently should stop immediately. All Beit Shemeshites need to oppose these tactics. • The mayor and local government should increase the green and recreational areas of our beautiful city, protecting the wonderful residents from over-development and concrete jungles. I feel so privileged to be able to live in this land! I hope my personal agenda of what should be done works toward the good. JOANNE JACKSON YELENIK Beit Shemesh