IDF took soldiers on educational tour with extreme-left group

Radical left-wing group 'Rabbis for Human Rights' led conscripts around South Tel Aviv. IDF promises to conduct a comprehensive review.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

IDF soldiers
IDF soldiers
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The radical left-wing NGO 'Rabbis for Human Rights' took IDF soldiers from the Artillery Corps on a tour in South Tel Aviv this past Sunday, contravening IDF policy banning collaboration with extremist and political entities.

The purpose of the tour was to educate soldiers on the plight of illegal African migrants that have flooded South Tel Aviv. IDF has a limited list of external bodies through which it is possible to carry out educational activities for soldiers, and Rabbis for Human Rights is not on the list of bodies approved by the Education Corps.

The IDF confirmed that the tour went against regulations and promised to conduct a thorough review. "The Rabbis for Human Rights organization is not part of the list of institutes approved by the Education and Youth Corps. Following an incorrect understanding of the procedures in the unit, an investigation will be carried out by the professional bodies in the IDF," said the IDF Spokespersons Unit.

Following the expose, the Lavi advocacy group penned a letter to IDF Chief Educational Officer Brigader General Tzvika Fierzon urging him to take far-reaching steps in order to ensure that the mistake did not repeat itself.

"Unfortunately, we are once again exposed to the influence of extreme political organizations on the soldiers of an elite IDF unit, this time on the issue of migrants, a topic of intense public controversy among the Israeli public," Lavi said.

The IDF has drawn flack from both the left and right-wing in recent years over its propensity to collaborate with civilian institutions that promote a clear a political bent. Amid mounting criticism, Eizenkot decided in March to end its activities with 82 of the 97 organizations it was affiliated with in an apparent effort to depoliticize the Education Corps. The 15 that the IDF did not end its programs with non-political topics such as road safety and the Holocaust.

In early July, the military made waves when it announced that it had decided to end its multi-year partnership with the Mandel Leadership Institute amid mounting criticism that the institute was brainwashing the IDF's most promising officers with a left-wing ideology.

The IDF had sent officers learning in an exclusive program combining Company Commander's Course with an academic degree to the Jerusalem-based Mandel Leadership Institute. Founded in 1992, the institute defines itself on its website as dedicated to the "flourishing of the United States and Israel as just, inclusive, and compassionate societies, and to improve the quality of life in both countries".

The program had drawn the ire of right-wing activists, who alleged that the lecturers were brainwashing promising IDF officers with a left-wing ideology. A comprehensive report compiled by the Lavi public policy NGO pointed out the Mandel Institute's close ties with the left-wing New Israel Fund's Shatil initiative and the overwhelmingly left-wing orientation of its lecturers.