Sunday, September 02, 2007

Refusing Orders: Back to the Future

CrossPosted at the DovBear.
In the [Israeli 1948] War of Independence, I served as an infantry soldier in the religious platoon in the 22cnd division of the Carmeli Brigade. Our company commander assembled the company, and announced the that IDF and Hagana Chief of Staff had ordered us to squash an insurgence by the “Etzel” – a boat full of ammunition and Etzel soldiers was arriving. He threatened us that we needed to follow every single order, including opening fire, if so commanded. Insubordination would be dealt with extremely harshly.

The religious platoon was the only one in the company, perhaps the only one in the Brigade. We inspired shock and awe. I will mention that our company, specifically our platoon were very battle experienced. We labored tirelessly, with unparalleled mesirut nefesh, and through the help of Hashem we had many successes -- the conquests of Haifa, Ako, Bazet, Ramat Yochanan, the Hula Valley, and more. Afterwards, we fought in the Jordan Valley, Jenin and others. We all served in the “Hagana” and were drafted in January 1948. Our platoon was the pride of the company and brigade, and we paid for that honor with the lives of our fighters and many wounded.

The orders about the “Altalena” reached us when we were up North, far away from Tel Aviv. Our platoon got on the bus in silence. There was no rabbi or spiritual leader that told us to refuse orders. The refusal was not as a collective, but each and every one individually, according to their conscience. I will note that Religious Zionism at the time (Mizrachi and Hapoel Mizrachi) was aligned with Mapai, specifically, “Red Haifa.” The leaders of the Religious Zionist movement saw eye to eye with Mapai on matters of security, settlement and social welfare.

During the ride on the bus to the Altalena, I contemplated the predicament, and deicded that I would not fight against my brothers, and if G-d forbid the time would arrive [and the order came] I would remove the firing pin from my rifle. Our luck improved and the drive from the North to Tel Aviv was drawn out, so that when we arrived at Tel Aviv, the Altalena was already burning. Every explosion [from the ship] flayed our skin, as we knew that the [destroyed] weapons and ammunition were desperately needed for the war [of Independence]. In the Hagana camp across from the Altalena, thousands of soldiers arrived from all battlefronts. There were fierce Palmach fighters, bearded and dirty, battle scarred “Negev Fighters” who arrived for this holy mission with rejoicing and merriment. The education they received from their mother’s womb was a hatred of religious Jews, the Etzel, the Lechi, and anything that had the fragrance of an international anthem: “The old world will be destroyed to its foundations.” Their faces beamed with happiness when they saw the boat explode and hundreds of Etzel soldiers taken captive and imprisoned in the camp. I saw the young innocence on the faces of the captives, scarred by fire -- they came with the ship to fight for the Jewish State. I heard that many of them died in battle after being conscripted into the IDF – thrown into battle without knowing the language and without appropriate training.

We returned back to our regular duties, and we didn’t discuss the subject, but our hearts were broken.
Printed in this past week's Makor Rishon by Chagai Segal -- a letter received from Ben Zion Abudi, an 80 year old Yerushalmi who served in the Hagana. The impetus for this letter was the refusal of IDF soldiers to evict Jewish families from Jewish owned property in Hevron. [The Hebrew article is not online yet, I translated it from the printed copy]

Points to ponder:

1. Mapai's intense hatred of religious soldiers and religion -- even at the expense of losing Jerusalem in 1948 to the Jordanians. Sixteen unarmed Jewish Etzel soldiers were killed while swimming to shore.

2. Religious soldiers don't need a Rabbi to dictate what's right or wrong -- and are perfectly capable of drawing their own conclusions.

Rashi writes on the pasuk, Yosef was thrown into a pit by his brothers that was "empty and had no water in it." Why the double language, obviously if the pit is empty, it has no water in it. Rashi answers, "there was no water in the pit...but there were snakes and scorpions in it." Nature abhors a vacuum -- if you don't fill a pit with it's natural filler (water), then it will be filled with other things. (hat-tip; R' Shlomo Riskin)

If Eretz Yisrael isn't filled with Jews who strive to observe the Torah and mitzvot, (or at a minimum, love their fellow Jew as themselves), then it will be filled with others.

You too can be part of the solution.

Shana Tova,

Jameel @ The Muqata.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


YMedad said...

Four years ago, based on an idea I developed, the Zionist Council in Israel tried to push a joint leadership seminar under the auspices of the Heritage Centers of Ben-Gurion, Rabin and Begin. The end activity was to be a simulation of the Altalena incident where all three were inter-connected. As a PR stunt, myself and Dalia Rabin went down to the TA beach where the Altalena memorial is placed and three students acted out for 15 minutes the roles. And the end, the student representing Rabin announced: "I cannot shoot at feloow Jews. I refuse to carry out the order to fire upon the ship." Dalia was quite obviously crestfallen. The program went nowhere but I understand it is trying to be revived.

Daniel said...

I'm suprised the story doesn't mention that the leader of the murderers was Rabin.

Daniel said...

Since there had been no elections yet, by what authority did Ben-Gurion and Rabin murder their political opponents? Just because they declared themselves a provisional government, does not make them legit.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

When Rabin was shot, my mother was distraught. I tried to tell her, "Yitzhak Rabin was not a nice man" but even less than 24 hours later he was on the way to sainthood. The poster that ripped at my soul was the one with the big photo of Rabin and the pasuk "Ose shalom b'miromav".


Seen this (old old) site? Church of Rabin and Peace

Lurker said...

Ah, yes, the holy C.R.A.P. website! And so what if it is old? The Enemies of Peace continue to venerate an old Torah that they do not update; why then should we not bring glory upon our slain Master by venerating an old website that we do not update? On the night of November 4th, after returning home from services in the Kikar, it is the custom of the most pious to stay awake for the rest of the night, re-reading the holy website in its entirety. (Tikkun Leil Rabin).

The greatest of the Rabin-god posters was the one that said:
"במותו ציווה לנו את השלום" ("In His Death He has commanded us [regarding] the Peace")...

Lurker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Daniel at 3:19 -- and if they had been elected, they would have authority to murder their political opponents?

I hope you didn't really mean that comment the way it sounds.


Anonymous said...

This is what American radio commentator Michael Savage says should be done about Iran.

Here is how you can listen to Michael Savage in Israel.

Anonymous said...

Here is another thing that Michael Savage says.

Anonymous said...

Search the Muqata


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