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September 23: Religion in uniform
I call upon chief of General Staff to take corrective measures, issue instructions protecting the right of a soldier to maintain his religious principles.
Religion in uniform

Sir, - Regarding “AG to Supreme Court: Expulsion of cadets was justified” (September 21), the attorney general in effect has given commanders the right to force soldiers to violate their religious principles.

This is reprehensible and is not tolerated in the armies of Western democracies. It cannot and must not be tolerated in the IDF.

I might point out that the prohibition of listening to a female singer is not a personal principle, but has a firm basis in Halacha.

Just as it is an uncompromising rule that a soldier must obey his commander’s orders, it is no less an uncompromising rule that a commander may not force a soldier to violate his religious principles.

I call upon the chief of General Staff to take corrective measures and issue instructions protecting the right of a soldier to maintain his religious principles.


Petah Tikvah

Sir, – How could this have been a legitimate order? The attorney general should have demanded that the commander be reprimanded for unnecessary religious coercion. As Martin Stern pointed out in letter published on the same date (“Sour notes”), it does not involve any military need and is comparable to forcing women to sit at the back of the bus. Both are examples of the intolerant attitude that “my social mores are acceptable but yours are not.”

The logic of the attorney general’s advice is that soldiers should be disciplined for refusing to take showers with members of the opposite sex. At least that might have some justification if the facilities at a remote outpost do not allow for any privacy – which was not the case at the IDF ceremony.

Is it surprising that so many religious men are unwilling to join an army that rides roughshod over their religious rights? What is really needed is good will and mutual respect, not the insistence that each soldier obey orders even when they violate his conscience.



Leaving in droves...

Sir, – The ever eloquent Isi Leibler ticks off some reasons as to why Jewish voters might be ticked off at US President Barack Obama (“Jews defect from Obama in droves,” Candidly Speaking, September 20), including Obama’s request that Israel apologize to Turkey.

The idea of appeasement for Turkey is obnoxious as well as dangerous.

Ankara is now headed by a loose canon of a regime with a propensity for violence: the Gaza gatecrashing ship manned by IHH thugs, the bombing of Kurds in northern Iraq, and the romance with genocidal Hamas. And now, in imitation of Mussolini’s Mare Nostrum, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has threatened Cyprus for seeking to develop natural resources in its own waters.

The proper response to such bullying is to lay down the law. Instead, Israel is seriously considering mollifying Ankara by supplying it with predator drones to use against the Kurds! Such actions signal weakness that could easily lead to a military miscalculation and wider war.


Jericho, Vermont

...or are they?

Sir, – Israel’s courting of the US Republican Party is a dangerous tactic. Except for the “one-issue” Orthodox segment, most American Jews could never bring themselves to support the current Republican platform, which is antithetical to what Jews have traditionally supported.

While it is encouraging to hear vociferous support for Israel, most of us understand the motivation behind it: the fundamentalist Christian eschatological basis of The Rapture, and not a love of Zion as the homeland of the Jewish people.

When American Jews step into the voting booths, few wear a yarmulke.


Key Biscayne, Florida
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