Monday, August 20, 2007

An Off-Tune Singer

Max Singer takes up cudgels with Moshe Dann in a letter to the editor in the JPost.

Moshe had written:-

The IDF is a citizen army. Soldiers are conscripted; they serve with pride and without question. The IDF's strength and character are rooted in their mission to protect us. Its morale depends on the fact that we are proud of their sacrifices we support them wholeheartedly. Their battlers are ours -- and their losses. We pray for and celebrate them because they are us.

The purpose of the IDF is to defend its citizens, not to destroy their homes.

If the government wants remove Jews from their homes and destroy them, it should be done by a special force -- voluntary and paid -- not by the IDF. Enforcing Law and Order is the job of the police.

Singer writes:-

He is wrong, because the government orders the expulsion of Jews because it claims to believe that the expulsion is part of a program needed to protect the existence of the country. I believe that the expulsion program is part of a foolish policy that will increase rather than reduce the danger to Israel. But the government's foolishness is not an excuse for a soldier to disobey his commander's orders.

In order to change the government or its policy people have to make the sacrifices required to produce effective political majorities - either changing some of their ideas or doing the work and relationship-building required to change others' ideas. A minority, however idealistic, cannot separate itself from the majority, however flaccid, and claim the right to reject the majority's decisions as illegitimate.

Methinks Singer doesn't fully grasp democracy, morality in politics and the history of minority struggles.

Singer continues:-

But we cannot avoid having a government which may break the rules. When someone who wants to live in a Jewish country thinks the government is breaking God's rules, he or she has to face the unpleasant fact of being implicated in breaking God's rules. The choice is between deciding not to have a Jewish country because its government may or does break God's rules - although God seems to have told us to have one - or living with the country's sin, if that is really what it is, until politics can stop the sinning.

This is silly.

I don't want to argue the specific instance but direct nonviolent action by persons willing to suffer punishment is time-honored by Jews, especially, starting with the two midwives in Egypt who refused a direct order. Philosophically, Singer is off-tune.


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