"Purity of Arms"

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

I remember way back when I was in the army, we had a week (half a week in the end, emergency in Gaza) of study at an army base ("Michve Alon") way up north. We learned alot about Syria, even though we knew we'd be stationed in Gaza. Its funny that I actually use some of that knowledge now in analyzing the current conflict in Syria. And we also "learned" about "Purity of Arms" - Tohar HaNeshek" - the IDF's made-up ethics policy. 

Now I admit, my Hebrew wasn't at the highest level at the time. Undoubtedly I missed a nice chunk of the officer's explanation of this very misguided concept. This is most likely was what prevented me from laughing out loud at various moments during the class. I do remember a part about once a terrorist surrenders,  you can't shoot him anymore. I probably just thought I didn't fully understand and when I did, there was only enough time to thoroughly roll my eyes.

Immediately after the class, I was approached by many of my fellow Hesder soldiers ("Beinishim - Bnei Yeshivot") and asked why I didn't protest these ridiculous directives. Taken a bit aback, I calmly explained that I simply have a different religion from the officer and that is why it was so easy to completely ignore the absurd words coming out of his mouth. I further suggested that no remotely thoughtful person would think that I, as a religious Jew, would pay any attention to this made-up, "moral code". Terrorists are to be killed. They have chosen to threaten Jewish lives and therefore to forfeit theirs. Its really quite simple. 

As I heard today General Eisenkott and Minsiter Yaalon blather idiotically about not shooting terrorists or not shooting them too much, I was reminded of that waste of an hour or so back at Michve Alon. Why is it so difficult for the Dati Leumi (National Religious) Community to understand this remarkably clear situation. Eisenkott, Yaalon and Yossi (our misguided officer) do not believe in Judaism. They make up morality as they go along and they are not very good at it. The (assumed) fact that their mothers are Jewish is completely irrelevant to this subject. Its reason to try to bring them closer to Judaism, but to follow their dictates on morality is antithetical to Judaism. Nobody would trust their opinion on kashrut, why on earth would they get a say on life and death?  They didn't and don't with me and shouldn't with anyone else considering themselves a religious Jew either. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem