Daily Israel Report

Jewish Home MK Skewers 'Professional Army' Idea

MK Yoni Chetboun calls the initiative 'stupid' and says professional soldiers lack motivation. MK Feiglin is among the idea's proponents.
By Hezki Ezra
First Publish: 3/29/2014, 9:40 PM

IDF soldiers in action
IDF soldiers in action
IDF Spokesperson Unit

MK Yoni Chetboun (Jewish Home) blasted the idea of a professional army in Israel, after returning at week's end from reserve training with his military unit, where he is a deputy battalion commander.

"After a long and challenging Knesset term,” he wrote on Facebook, “there is nothing like going on a reserve stint and seeing our nation's great prowess.”

He said that he had told his soldiers: “You are the spearhead of the volunteer spirit and the Zionism of Israeli society.”

Chetboun, who serves as co-chairman of the Reservists' Caucus in the Knesset, along with MKs Miri Regev (Likud) and Eitan Cabel (Labor), skewered the idea of replacing the current “people's army” model with a professional military.

"The meaning of the idea of the professional army that people stupidly toy with is that we will have divisions of mercenaries that will not hold up in times of trial,” he pronounced. "The people's army is doubly strong, because what decides things in the test of battle is motivation, more than the size of the army.”

Chetboun, who was decorated for his actions in the battle of Bint Jbeil in the Second Lebanon War, stressed that “a soldier who charges ahead in the service of the nation knows what he is fighting for, and the IDF tradition has proven that even in situations of inferiority, campaigns can be turned around. Mercenaries, on the other hand, lack motivation, and therefore a professional army could be something we wind up regretting deeply.”

"A partnership of all elements of society in military service will only come from brotherly love, a recognition of the value of Torah and the spirit of Israel, along with a willingness by everyone to recognize the value of defense service,” he wrote – in a reference to the recently-passed Enlistment Bill, which he voted against, an act that earned him fierce denunciation from his fellow party members.

Likud MK Moshe Feiglin is a well-known proponent of the idea of a volunteer professional army. 

"In this plan," Feiglin has written in Arutz Sheva, "each and every Jew would be inducted into the army and would do basic training of a number of days at least and 30 days at most. The training will be tailored to the needs of the various sectors: There will be completely separate bases for women, the training will take place during vacation from the yeshivas and universities, and the like.

"Those who are not interested in volunteering will finish their service at this point. They can and will be drafted in emergency situations for guard duty, civil defense and if necessary, for more advanced training.

"A soldier who chooses to volunteer in the IDF, and whom the IDF chooses to accept (!) will receive a good salary, truly professional training that includes an academic degree and most important of all – the admiration of Israeli society (as opposed to the situation in the US).

"I have no doubt that the supply will outstrip demand and that many of the volunteers will receive a negative answer."