A few days ago, a crack Israeli combat unit wrapped up a stint along the Gaza border and was deploying for training across the country. On the way, its commander diverted his soldiers to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, to hear a sermon from a rabbi and make a blessing.
While the army (IDF) said none were forced to participate in the religious ceremony, it did raise the hackles of secular Israelis who are concerned that the incident represented the creeping influence of deeply religious Jews into what had once been the exclusive realm of secular Zionists.
This argument came to bear over the weekend when the army chaplain altered the words of the official memorial prayer for fallen soldiers to read “In God’s name we remember” instead of the traditional “In Israel’s name we remember.”
“I see what is happening in the army as a sign and it is very worrying,” Dr. Rafi Mann, who teaches Communications at the Ariel University Center of Samaria, told The Media Line. “I never say we should reject our heritage, but at this rate we may have a rabbi attached to every unit just like the Soviets had a politruk alongside their officers.”
The question of dual loyalty of Jews in uniform has been bantered around for the past decade, ever since the national religious youth began leaving their seminaries, joining elite combat units a… >>>