Nurit Peled-Elhanan: On the appointment of Yair Naveh as Deputy Chief of Staff
The great wonderment with which the appointment of Yair Naveh has been greeted is itself to be wondered at. After all, who else could be appointed as the Deputy Chief of Staff if not Yair Naveh? Who else loves to immediately assassinate everyone who looks suspicious to him, to immediately kill whoever moves, to destroy, to devastate, to conquer, to crush? Yair Naveh is one of the best sons of the army, he learned everything he had to learn and proved himself in the field. The High Court of Justice does not interest him in the least (Uri Blau, thanks to information provided by ex-soldier Anat Kamm, Haaretz, 28 November 2008), he does not recognize human rights, he hates Arabs – or maybe they just get in his way at work. But to kill, he loves. What else is needed in a Deputy Chief of Staff of the Occupation army the function of the soldiers and officers of which has been well defined over the course of forty years: killing, liquidation, destruction, devastation and abusing a civilian population of millions of people?
But those who wonder at his appointment and want to thwart it are still infused with a kind of groundless romanticism about the Israeli Occupation Army. A romanticism that claims that people like Yair Naveh are the exceptions and we must not leave the army in their hands. Nor in the hands of the settlers, nor of the mercenaries or the rabbis who preach the murder of non- Jewish children, nor of the pilots who feel a bump on the wing when they release a bomb over an inhabited house  nor in the hands of girl-soldiers like Eden Aberjil or in the hands of commanders like Col. Bentzi Gruber who is absolutely certain that the slaughter in Gaza was an expression of the justice of the path and that God is therefore on our side, that the killing of hundreds of children in Gaza was done according to the ethical code of the IDF that set moral boundaries for us and therefore “it is not possible that we harmed innocents,” and who does not understand why he is getting unpleasant letters that scare his wife in her beautiful reinforced house in a settlement (Yediot Aharonot, Friday 26/11.2010). In whose hands, then, should we leave the army? Maybe in the hands of those who participated as observers and helpers at the massacre at Sabra and Shatilla (see Oscar Nominated Walse with Bashir) and whose souls have been troubled since then to this very day, or in the hands of those who Break the Silence because they cannot bear the burden of their crimes and are haunted day and night by the horrified look in the eyes of a small girl in Gaza/Jenin/Nablus/Beit Umar/Bil’in/Ni’lin/Sheikh Jarrah/Beit Hanun/Jabaliya/Qalqiliya or Hebron, or in the hands of the female soldiers who, unlike Eden Aberjil, have difficulty remembering if they had smiled when they were photographed beside the corpse of a child in Hebron, for the fun of it, for the guys, for the gigs, and whose lives have been constantly troubled ever since they were released from service in the army of killing and realized what they had done?
Yair Naveh, his pupils and his teachers, prevent us from fantasizing and believing despite all the evidence that forty years of abuse, killing and destruction are exceptions to the ethical code of the most immoral army in the world. The appointment of Yair Naveh prevents us from continuing to tell our pure, young, enthusiastic children who want to contribute and act and build and educate, who flow into the pre-army programmes with a wonderful fervour of self-realization, sure that they can bring about change 'from within,' that everything will be all right if only they enlist in the right units - the “combat” units – that is, the units of murder and killing and liquidation, or at least in the “combat support” units – those that provide training in killing and murder and that strengthen our forces; the appointment of Yair Naveh prevents us from continuing to tell our children that in reply to the rabbis’ pamphlets that call for killing and slaughter, they can distribute their own - and our - doctrine of peace and brotherhood among the IDF troops.
The appointment of Yair Naveh is a fitting one. None is more suitable than he to stand nearly at the head of the most immoral army in the world, the cruellest army in the world that considers itself enlightened. An army with unlimited supplies of money and power and periodically mercenaries (have they judaized all of them yet?), a mob immersed in impulses and interests not one of which is moral. That is the meaning of an army. For that reason it is not Yair Naveh but us – who have to resign from the role of creating soldiers, providing soldiers, giving birth to soldiers and educating future soldiers. We must gather up our courage and teach our children to refuse. Refuse to take part in an organization that is led by war criminals, murderers of children. An organization like that cannot be anything but a crime organization. Avoid it like you would avoid live fire, we should tell them, and think of other ways to contribute to the society in which you live. Maybe you can go to live in Yeruham for three years, help Ethiopian children who are treated with blatant racism in their promised land, or go live in Bil’in or Ni’lin or in any other Palestinian village that the army has set its eye to destroying? Maybe you can organize more and more rescue boats to Gaza? Maybe you can block the path with your bodies when police and soldiers come to throw children out onto the street in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan? Maybe you can help refugees who come to our shores fleeing from holocaust or genocide because they heard that there was democracy here, and help them to hide, to cope, to escape from the cruel racist government of the democracy of the Jews? Maybe you can save the Dead Sea? There are so many possibilities, children, to contribute to society, to the state if you will, to the place where you live. And those possibilities do not include the uniform of the IDF, nor its guns, nor its bombs or its commanders the model and paragon of whom is Yair Naveh, one of many whose orders you should never obey.
So it is to our advantage that one should see such a man standing at the head of the army – or nearly so. The appointment of Yair Naveh will permit us to point to a specific object and say to our children: do you see? That is the bad man. Do not go near. And when they ask in fear: what does he do to children? – We will tell them: he kills them, just like that, without the High Court of Justice and without Btselem. 
Translated from Hebrew by George Malent
1. In August 2002, shortly after the Israeli Air Force dropped a one-ton bomb on a house in Gaza, killing Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh along with 14 innocent civilians, most of whom were children, the commander of the Air Force, Dan Halutz, was asked how he felt as a pilot when he dropped a bomb. He replied: “I feel a light bump on the plane as a result of the release of the bomb. A second later, it’s over. And that’s all. That’s what I feel.” Halutz was later appointed Chief of Staff of the Israel Defence Forces. (Vered Levi-Barzilai, “Yefei nefesh, nim’astem”, Haaretz, 23 Aug. 2002. In Hebrew. http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=543557 )
2. Btselem: an Israeli human rights organization that monitors abuses by the Israeli army and police in the West Bank. Website: http://www.btselem.org/English/index.asp . Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said he wished he could deal with "Palestinian terrorists" "Without the high court and without Betselem"
3. Reference to the documentary "to see if I'm smiling". By Tamat Yarom, 2007.