Nearly a fifth of the graduates in the just-ended IDF ground officers’ course are religious-Zionists – lower than other years, but higher than their proportion in the population.
A senior officer present at the graduation ceremony, which took place on Tuesday in the Bahad-1 training camp in the Negev, said, “The religious are the kibbutzniks of today.” The reference was to the disproportionately high contribution made by kibbutz members to the IDF in the early decades of the State of Israel.
The fact that the religious comprise a high proportion of IDF officers is not new. Between 30-40% of graduates in recent officers’ courses have been religious - well more than twice as much as their proportion in the general population.
“The national-religious are replacing the kibbutzniks in the ranks of combat and command,” the officer said. “They learn at home the importance of sacrifice for the nation and of giving of themselves for the State.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak was present at the ceremony, as were IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and other officials.
Four Different Routes to the IDF
Eleven soldiers were killed during the recent war in Gaza – and four of them were of the religious-Zionist sector. Each of them entered the army via a different route: Nitai Stern enlisted immediately after high school; Dvir Imanuelov studied in the Netivot hesder yeshiva, combining army service with Torah studies; Capt. Yoni Netanel enlisted after studying for three years at the pre-military yeshiva academy in Eli; and Maj. Dagan Vartman joined the army after several years of intense Torah study at Yeshivat Har HaMor in Jerusalem.