Media Analysis

The ‘people’s army’ — Gantz sells ‘miracle’ of a discriminatory army to US Jews

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The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces held an on-line gala last week. The FIDF is an American nonprofit that raised $132 million in 2018, including $43 million at its LA gala, with the mission of providing “life-changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide.” Emphasis mine.

If you wonder why Joe Biden won’t say a critical word about Israel, Haim Saban is a leading fundraiser for Biden, and Saban is on the FIDF board.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz addressed last week’s fundraiser and praised the Israel Defense Forces as a “miracle.”

“The IDF is more than just a symbol of something amazing, it is more than a powerful military body that protects our land and people. It is more even than a historical miracle that put arms into the hands of the Jewish people at a critical moment in time.

Gantz, who became an American liberal Zionist hero over the last 18 months as he tried to replace Netanyahu– and then folded–spoke in idealistic terms of a “people’s army” that protects the “Jewish homeland” and draws its ranks from “every walk of life… every type of background.”

I saw the best of what this nation represents. I met strangers from every walk of life, from east to west. From every corner of the globe. And who come from near and far, from every type of background…

But the army that protects the “Jewish homeland” and “Jews worldwide”is overwhelmingly Jewish. Only Jews are required to do so. Palestinians are excused from service.

As Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, points out, Not serving means lesser status. From al-Monitor‘s article, “Israeli Military Service Requirement Discriminates Against Arab Citizens.”

“Military service is kind of a tool that is being used more and more in order to exclude the Arabs, because they don’t do military service,” explained Sawsan Zaher, director of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Department at Adalah.

“Surrounded,” a 2008 book from Stanford University Press by Rhoda Ann Kanaaneh says that 3,000 Palestinians serve — in a force of over 160,000.

In an “Inequality Report” of 2011, Adalah points out that Palestinians suffer in state services because they do not serve in the army:

The vast majority of Palestinian citizens of Israel are exempted from military service and do not serve in the Israeli army, for political and historical reasons. Thus the use of this criterion as a condition for awarding economic benefits discriminates against them on the basis of their national belonging and violates their right to equal enjoyment of various public services.

This is perfectly consistent with Israel’s Nationality Law of two years back that says that only Jews have the right of self-determination in the Jewish state, and they have many more rights than Palestinian citizens. It’s lamentable that older more affluent American Jews (many of whom remember Harry Truman ending racial segregation in the U.S. army in 1948) would support such discrimination. Hopefully the next generation is wising up.

Gantz served in the IDF 38 years, including as a general who bombed Gaza back to the Stone Age, as he bragged in an ad last year.

As for Saban, he was at the White House last week for Trump’s announcement of the UAE/Bahrain deals.

Haim Saban on South Lawn of White House for Israel/Bahrain/UAE deal signing. From Bloomberg correspondent Jordan Fabian’s twitter feed. Sept. 15, 2020.

Thanks to Scott Roth and Adam Horowitz.

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“Only Jews are required” (to serve in the IDF) – not true. Druze men are also required to serve. As to Palestinians who are Israeli citizens- yes ,they are exempt from compulsory service. Does Phil think that that’s wrong? Palestinian Israelis by and large do not wish to enlist in the IDF, there’s no such demand. Imagine the (justified) howls of protest if Israel would try to draft the Palestinians. So how can you complain… Read more »

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz … praised the Israel Defense Forces … “The IDF is … more even than a historical miracle that put arms into the hands of the Jewish people …Gantz … spoke in idealistic terms of a “people’s army” that protects the “Jewish homeland” … It’s hard to tell if Gantz’s supremacist disregard for non-Jewish Israelis and his anti-Semitic conflation of Israel with all Jews is: – coldly deliberate and calculated; or… Read more »

“The ‘people’s army’”
Yes, but have be the right kind of people.