Jun 22, 2011

The Unnecessary Battle Against Chief of Staff Benny Gantz

This situation with the issue of the text of the yizkor memorial service in the IDF has really been blown way out of proportion.

The army made a decision in 1967 to change the text from "The People of Israel shall remember" to "God shall remember". It was done then by Rav Goren, if I am not mistaken, and one can accuse him of making the change out of personal or ideological interests, but nobody has changed it back since then. Since then, despite what the official books say, much leeway has been given and basically every army unit did what ti wanted.

Somebody asked the office of the Chief of Staff what the official rule is, and they checked the books and responded that the official text is "God shall remember". Since then everyone has been making a stink about how the army is prioritizing God over the people, how the army is "mit-chared" - going through a process of haredization (ironic in itself considering how little influence the haredim have on the army and the complaints about the haredim not serving).

As a result of the big stink, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has appointed a committee to investigate the matter and make a professional recommendation as to what the text should say. The committee is expected to recommend that the text combine both formulations into on that says "God and the people of Israel shall remember.."

The issue is not whether the army should mention God or not. The issue is whether the prayer is meant to call upon God to remember, like most memorial prayers, or if it was designed as a call to the people of Israel to remember the fallen.

Talk about an unnecessary fight. Gantz did not say all units must comply. He did not say he is going to send pakachim to check that all units are following the books. Gantz simply responded to a query, and gave the correct information, as per what is written as correct protocol in the IDF records. As far as he is concerned, units can continue saying each one according to its own tradition and not follow the official text. I wonder if a change is made because of this if they will force all units to comply, probably upsetting even more people...

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