The Soldiers’ Answer for Elor Azariya

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Every soldier, when he or she comes to that first interview after receiving notification that they are being drafted in to the Israel Defense Forces is given a profile number. A rating of his or her physical health. The best he or she can get is 97 – it’s a part of Israeli/Jewish culture that I love. There is no one perfect in the world. No one will get 100. My sons all were given 97.

I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry when they came home and told me.

“Math, science, Torah, Mishna – on THESE tests I wanted 97,” I said to each one. “On this one? On this you had to bring me 97???” I knew what 97 meant…and believe me. The automatic reaction is a mixture of pride and terror. Other numbers are accepted, but 97 is almost automatically viewed as potential combat material.

It is almost an unwritten law that those with 97 are asked the next question, about serving in a combat unit. There is a certain level of prestige that goes with the soldiers that agree to be placed in one of these units. It is an honor that they carry for years and years. These units are, for the most part, the most visible elements of the army.

We see them on the streets with their guns, their red or black boots. Paratroopers don’t know how to tuck their shirts in; combat soldiers in general seem to be unable to put a coat on, no matter what the weather is. They won’t pin their berets. Oh no, not our combat soldiers. There’s a way they wear nearly everything that announces who they are, and they carry that with them wherever they go in pride. We are the combat soldiers of Israel.

They are divided into different divisions – Golani, Givati, Artillery, Kfir. There are other units but these are the first that come to mind. Each division has subdivisions, elite units, even secret units.

Elie was Artillery, Shmulik and Chaim were Kfir, Yakov and David were/are Givati – all except David finished with honor, served with pride. David is half way through. One more year. He serves with honor. He serves with pride.

“Do you want to be a combat soldier?” Each of my soldiers, my precious sons, agreed. They would serve this land, fight for it. This morning, the military court stabbed our soldiers in the back, as did the Chief of Staff, current and former.

Tomorrow, the army will have to face a new reality. It is not only Elor Azariya that was slapped in the face, but every soldier who stands on our borders with a gun. They have been told that they must now, in the middle of a battle, stop and think what some idiot judge will think of their action.

Gone is the “follow me” attitude and in its place is “We’ll come AFTER you if we want to.” If politics requires it, if the Chief of Staff wants a photo op and a judge wants the chance to lecture a family for over two hours.

So, here’s the deal, now that you have devastated the morale of our soldiers. From this point onward, all soldiers, when asked, “will you serve as a combat soldier, should answer, “No, because of Elor Azariya, I do not agree to be a combat soldier.”

That simple. There’s your answer. No.

My youngest soldier is in a combat unit. He will finish his service to this land. I am eternally grateful that he is my youngest soldier and so that I will not be faced with this choice ever again. No. You cannot take 18 year old boys, not train them properly, put them in a situation in which they fear for their lives, and then charge them for acting against a terrorist. Right or wrong, that dead man was a terrorist who had just stabbed a soldier. Elor Azariya did not stab an innocent, unarmed man. He shot a terrorist who had not been properly neutralized in a scene that had not been “sterilized.”

His commanding officers should be removed; the Chief of Staff fired. The answer from this courts this morning is that they would rather take action against your son and mine, better punish an 18-year-old soldier than assign responsibility as needed.

So if you have a son who is about to be drafted…and if he has a high profile – have him practice this phrase…

“No, I will not be your next Elor Azariya. I do not agree to be in a combat unit. I will not go into a situation in which my life is endangered and I am ordered not to defend myself. No.”

Elor Azariya was betrayed – by the media, which we expected; by the defense ministry and higher echelons, which we did not. He was betrayed by his commanding officers and today he was betrayed by the military courts.

I encourage the judges to draft their sons and grandsons to combat units; isn’t it interesting that Bibi Netanyahu’s sons didn’t serve in combat? How many of those self-righteous media personalities served in the army? How many have risked the lives of their children in combat units. No, mine served but you will not get others.

Go for it, dear reporters of the Times of Israel, Haaretz, etc. put YOUR son’s life on the line. Send your sons into Arab neighborhoods with orders not to shoot a terrorist who has just stabbed a soldier. Risk your son’s life, not mine.

No, they will not serve.

This will be the legacy of Elor Azariya; this will be the legacy for Elor. No.

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