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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Disengagement

WARNING! THE FOLLOWING RANT MAY (AND PROBABLY WILL) CONTAIN POLITICAL OPINIONS YOU DON'T WANT TO HEAR. NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO READ THIS BUT FEEL FREE TO COMMENT WITH SUPPORT OR COMPLAINTS AS YOU SEE FIT.

ANY POLITICAL OPINIONS IN THIS POST OR ANY POST ON THIS BLOG ARE MY CIVILIAN OPINIONS. THEY REFLECT NEITHER THE ISRAELI ARMY'S OPINIONS NOR DO THEY REFLECT A SOLDIERS OPINIONS. THE FACT THAT I AM A SOLDIER IS SEPARATE FROM MY POLITICAL OPINION. ALL CIVILIAN CITIZENS IN A DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY ARE ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINION.

Disengagement. Expulsion. Retreat. It's been called a lot of things. Which is the correct term? I'm not quite sure.

I've recently stuck to my story of "I'm a soldier, I have no political opinion or stance." The repression of my opinion worked well until my mind realized that I really did have one. There is Ben the soldier and there is Ben the civilian. It was only recently that the two had a chance to meet, when Ben the soldier looked in the mirror and saw Ben the civilian looking back at him. Staring back with eyes that didn't understand.

Until this encounter I had thought of the disengagement as a decision made by a democratic government. Nothing more than another mission chose for the IDF. This decision is well within the governments power to make. So why shouldn't it be carried out? I had asked myself several times, hypothetically, what would I do. My job as a soldier is to listen to legal orders made by my government. So why wouldn't carry out those orders given to me. I had no answer and so always responded to myself that I would indeed carry out those orders.

It was only this past week when I was called up to take part in the disengagement that this hypothetical question became a reality. Ben the soldier still had no conflict, but Ben the civilian suddenly was having trouble with it all. Who am I to forcefully remove people from their home?! We put them there to begin with! But I wasn't called up to actually remove people. Only equipment. And how would I feel if this was done to me? I then realized that it doesn't matter. Or at least it shouldn't. The fact that I can put myself in their position is more of a reason, but not the reason not to do it.

As horrible as it is to say, I was reminded of the Holocaust. I was trying to justify it to myself. "I'm just following orders" I would say. Or, "It doesn't affect me." It shouldn't have to!

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"-Edmund Burke

Was I one of those good men allowing evil to triumph?! Was I just another Canada not wanting to get involved in a war that didn't concern me?! Should I disobey orders because of me political opinion?

The answer is no. While I may not necessarily agree with what is going on, it isn't evil. And it is a completely legal order. To disobey orders is to spit on democracy. It is saying I like democracy when it works for me, but when it doesn't-I vote anarchy. This double standard is the true evil. People should not be inciting soldiers to disobey orders or desert simply because they don't like the hand of cards that democracy has dealt. Not everyone can get a royal flush in the same turn. It just doesn't work that way. Someone will always be unhappy.

In summation, while I may not agree with everything my government is doing, it can't interfere with my duty to uphold my government's orders. I have to believe in democracy. Ben the civilian understood Ben the soldier. While you too may not believe that disengagement is the right thing to do, please don't incite soldiers and police officers to disobey. You are just making a hard task even harder. And finally I wish everyone strength in this very difficult time.

6 Comments:

At 12:21 PM, August 17, 2005, Blogger Talli said...

Well, first of all, I didn't know you were so talented as a writer.

But second of all it's very interesting to hear your perspective... it was really well written.

I'm so sorry about your conflict.

good luck with following orders...

what else can I say? you've impressed me :-)

oh and thanks for your comment.

 
At 9:31 AM, August 21, 2005, Blogger dassa said...

hey, it's dassa. ben (gross)' sister. i was checking ben's blog when somehow i found your blog open. (i hope you dont mind).
impressed is not the word i was looking for but being that its 230 in the morning its the only word that comes to mind to describe this post.
as it happens we were talking this afternoon about disobeying orders and should you go against your principles to obey. i think you explain it best.
i just wanted to thank you for your post.
good luck with your conflicts and i hope it all works out well.

 
At 9:45 AM, August 25, 2005, Blogger Ben said...

Thanks for the positive comments! I really appreciate them!

 
At 6:29 PM, January 24, 2006, Anonymous Yaakov said...

I just read this for the first time on January 23rd. As a reservist that did not show up for duty on August 16th I disagree. Sharon completely reversed the democratic majority who voted in the last election. Jews being mostly apathetic did nothing to fight a govenments pandering and appeasing foreign powers. Our Democracy lost all its legitimacy when Sharon switched from the platform he was elected on 180 degrees.

 
At 11:51 PM, January 24, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

One of the wonderful things about democracy is that not only are differences in opinion allowed, they are encouraged. In turn, not everyone is always happy with the elected government of the decisions they make. It’s part of the price of freedom.

To say “Our Democracy lost all its legitimacy when Sharon switched from the platform he was elected on 180 degrees.” is a little harsh. While changing aspects of his original platform, I wouldn’t say that he changed it 180 degrees. And if a change in the elected official’s platform negates the legitimacy of the country’s democracy, are there any legitimate democracies left out there? I feel adaptation is part of politics. Compromises must be made in order to make a successful government.

With that said, our governmental system leaves much to be desired and is far from perfect. As far as our past governments, when was the last time a prime minister finished a full term? There is definitely room for improvement, as there is in all governments, and we are a young country.

If you don’t mind me asking, what were the consequences, if any, of you not showing up for duty?

 
At 12:14 AM, December 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ben,

I got to your blog by searching for the term "portable bomb shelter*".

It's refreshing to find a blog that isn't written by a religious right wing anglo (see http://muqata.blogspot.com/ for a good roll call to get you started).

Two comments:
1. I found somewhere you feeling good (in a bad sort of way) leaving Azza for the last time, "at least I'll never have to go back there again." I didn't read closely enough to clarify if you are still a soldier, but if not personally, then surely contemporaries of yours have had to go back in recently, some have even died there, and the smart money is on the IDF sending many more boys in, and unfortunately welcoming a few less back alive. Knowing this, do you have a postscript to your quote?

Also, you agonized whether to refuse orders to participate in the disengagement, ultimately calling it an unlucky draw of democratic cards, and asking opponents not to make it harder on order fillers. Seeing how far the corruption among the leaders of the disengagement were (can you say "Omri Sharon" for starters) and the turncoat media (who should have been watchdogs against the government instead of rottweilers for them), do you still have the same feelings?

I am sorry if this post sounds harsh. Most of us "oranges" still feel tremendously hurt (an understatement) by the Disengagement and so many things that have happened and are happening since then.

gidon.ariel at gmail.com

*Some friends of mine are looking into fundraising for this! See what we have come to? for a good roll call to get you started).

 

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