Does Lieberman Believe in the IDF Code of Ethics?

The news that MK Avigdor Lieberman will be our new Minister of Defense was crushing. The problem is not that he doesn’t know anything about the army. The problem is his values. He is the Israeli leader who led the defense of Sergeant Elor Azaria, the soldier who shot a Palestinian terrorist after the terrorist had already been neutralized and was lying on the ground. Apparently Minister Lieberman never read the army’s Ruah Tzahal, Code of Ethics at the core of which is the following statement:

The Purity of Arms – IDF Code of Ethics: The soldier will use his arms and his force for the execution of the mission only, only, only with the measure (of force) required for that (mission), and he will protect the image of the human being (tzelem enosh) even in battle. The soldier will not use his arms and his force to hurt people who are not soldiers, and [will not hurt] captives.  And he will do everything in his power to prevent harm to their lives, their bodies, their dignity, and their property.

(only only only = בלבד אך ורק)

It could not be clearer.  When it is crunch time and human life is on the line—there is no such thing as being right wing or left wing. There is only moral and not moral. From Jewish values and from the shards of Jewish memory the leaders of our army have adopted a code that every Israeli can be proud to affirm. We can look ourselves in the mirror and not shudder. We come from 4,000 years of a people who tried to bring to the world the idea that every human being is created b’tzelem, in the image of the Holy One of Blessing.  Every soldier is given a laminated card that contains these and other similar words to keep in their pocket.  That’s who we are and who we are trying to be.

Now it is time for all of us to raise our voices and to say clearly—every minister in every government must affirm their support of the IDF Code of Ethics.  That includes our prime minister. That’s the “loyalty oath” that we should insist on—adherence to the values of our tradition and how those values are framed by the leaders of our armed forces  Foremost among those values is the insistence upon respecting the bodies of every human being, including our enemies. If we fail to insist upon these values we will deserve whatever happens to us for we will have shown that our Judaism doesn’t mean anything in the real world.

About the Author
Bill Berk was born in California and graduated college from the University of California, Berkeley. He attended rabbinical school (HUC) and served congregations in Palo Alto and Phoenix. Bill made aliyah in 2006, and worked at the Hartman Institute running their educational programs for rabbis. He has worked at Keshet and Makor in the field of educational travel.
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