Class war in the IDF

By Staff Sgt. (res.) Ori Berzak:

On a hill overlooking the bloody battleground of Waterloo, Meir, a British Jew, stood at noon on June 18, 1815. By 10:00 PM, when the battle was over and the sides began counting their dead – 25,000 French and 15,000 British and Prussian dead – Meir was already on the other side of the English Channel in a boat he had readied in advance. He was in a rush to buy stock on the London Stock Exchange while prices were still low. At the end of a single day of trading, on June 19, by the time Wellington had found the time to send letters summing up the battle and Napoleon’s defeat, Meir Rothchild was a millionaire. Just like in any war, there are winners and losers.

On a hill near Jebel Bilat, on the evening of August 7, 2006, a supply convoy with reinforcements was being delayed. The cause: brigade commander Colonel Shlomi Cohen’s convoy was getting public relations services from Yedioth Ahronoth reporter, Nahum Barnea. The Colonel received another dose of “promotion coverage,” and his soldiers, who did not receive supplies,had to break into local shops and steal foodstuffs.

On a hilltop overlooking the bay of Tyre at 8:30 AM, on August 15, 2006, slightly more than 24 hours since the cease-fire went into effect,reconnaissance unit 609 is sitting in a Lebanese house, taking cover from the anti-tank missiles that could appear at any moment. They are not sure about what the next day will bring.

The sniper on team 3 is waiting to receive a warning that he will be fired. He has been away from his new job for a month. The medic, the team leader and the guy handling the grenade launcher are unsure about what to do with the semester exams that they have missed. Those who are single are planning to flee the country. The family men are due home to wives who have not slept for a month, to children dying for their embrace, but also to mortgages
and the rest of the payments that need to be made.

On the map, the company’s movement looks like a green arrow, cutting through on the right of the security zone in a semi-circle. On the generals’ maps, it is yet another promise to increase the defense budget, salaries for the career staff and for their stock options in their own personal, crazy start-up called “the next war.” Just like in any war, there are winners and losers.

On the hills covered in pine and cypress trees in Israel, the fighting class is burying its dead and licking its wounds. The commanding class is granting another interview to reporters and waiting for the findings of the committees of inquiry. The debate over the budget has already been won, and the aid from the U.S. is already on the way. Just like in any war, there are winners and losers.

On a hill between Mount Meron and Safed, at 2:00 PM on August 16, 2006, the brigade commander talked with his troops from the reconnaissance unit. In response to the claims there had been no orders, no relevant training, about the hunger, the lack of equipment, and the journalists that risked our lives with their camera flashes prior to our entry into Lebanon, Colonel Cohen lectured us for lacking motivation. The soldiers quickly surrounded
him, the tempers flared, the tones rose very high. Pretty soon there was booing. A moment before there was real violence, the brigade commander carried out a brilliant withdrawal. If he had a smoke grenade available, surely he would have used it.

A class war is a war between winners and losers. A new chapter was written in the age-long book on class war: the IDF class war. In such a war, the fighting class can only lose everything that sustains it: comradery, ethics and responsibility for the defense of the state.

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