Monday, March 13, 2006

Analyzing Disengagement from Within

Ha'aretz reports that in the latest issue of Beyn Hazirot (Between the Arenas), the Israel Defense Forces journal of behavioral science, Lt. Hadass Minke-Brand, a counselor in the Golani Division on behalf of the psychology department of the Ground Forces Command, writes about "motivating subordinates in the disengagement mission - the case of Golani."

This would seem to be an interesting insight into what pressures an army unit was under.

According to Minke-Brand, Golani's commander, Erez Zuckerman emphasised "preventing refusal", as distinct from dealing with it ipso facto. Soldiers who were on the brink of refusal were defined as "having difficulty," and if they did not behave with demonstrative provocation or incited mutiny, they were enveloped in a soft attitude. Golani's success was defined from the start as "an absence of refusal among officers and in units - squads, platoons, companies, brigades) and reducing the phenomenon to a negligible minority of individuals."

So, what happened? What pressures were the soldiers under from a socialization or psychological point?

At the demonstrations by evacuation opponents, especially at Kfar Maimon, "more than 50 percent of the officers had relatives or close friends on the inside of the fence around the settlement, as demonstrators. An absolute majority of commanders grew up as religious-Zionist. The mutual joy at their meetings could be recognized from afar in the embraces and shared experiences.

Among the demonstrations were spotted many demobilized soldiers from Golani, with recent demobilization dates and an emphasis on elite units like Egoz and the Golani Reconnaissance Brigade. On the ground, a dialogue emerged between the Golani commanders and settlement leaders, in the form of mediation through the sons. The protesting heads of the settlements who conducted the dialogue for their side Pinchas Wallerstein, Effi Eitam, Moti Yogev, Rafi Ben-Bassat - all had sons who were commanders of Golani companies and groups.

She indicates that at that time, most of the disengagement opponents did not support refusal to serve and worked hard on their relatives and friends, and through them, to other unit soldiers, and successfully defused the situation which could have turned into mutiny.

Golani, writes Minke-Brand, was saved from many months of dealing with a critical situation in which "the mission was enforcing order among Israelis with repeated clashes." Those doing the evacuation in uniform will be freed from conscript duty, go back to their settlements and beef up the opponents; it is not clear who will fall apart sooner, the settlements or the divisions. And even if the IDF, police and Shin Bet stand up to the task of getting out of the territories, the state comptroller is holding a report that expresses doubt about those in responsible positions inside Israel proper, the managers of the civilian temptation-compensation, being able to implement the declarations of the politicians.

Nevertheless, after Amona, the situation is different.

After Amona, and on the eve of an election whose results seem to guarantee a government of evacuation and escalation in the war against the evacuations, this calming conclusion is no longer valid.

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