Should Israel Claim to Have the Most Moral Army in the World?

A few days ago, on the front page of the New York Times, there was an article written about the killing of an unarmed unthreatening medic. Though unintentional, it appears that live fire was used in a situation with no imminent danger. As a result, a bullet ricochetted off the ground, eventually hitting and killing a medic.

Let me start out by clarifying that I have not (yet) served in the IDF and I am criticizing how the IDF portrays itself as a whole to the outside world, not individual policies or strategic decisions.  I don’t want to argue whether live fire should or should not be used as regardless of my personal thoughts against it, I don’t have the military knowledge or expertise to condemn its use. I just want to argue for a change from “the most moral army in the world” to “an army that strives for morality.” When you call yourself the most moral army in the world, you open yourself up to a world of intense disagreement and criticism. When you call yourself the most moral army in the world, you set yourself up for failure. When you call yourself the most moral army in the world, with all of the terrible atrocities in this world that are far worse than those committed in this land, you get an article published on the front page of the New York Times proving that the IDF is not perfect. And, surprise, the IDF is not perfect. From speaking with people who have served, I do think that they do go above and beyond in terms of trying to avoid civilian casualties and strive for morality. But, at the end of the day, this is an army, and these are a bunch of eighteen to twenty-one-year-olds in a conflict with great animosity between the two sides. There will be instances where emotion overpowers morality, there will be mistakes made, there will be innocent medics who are killed.


About the Author
Ezra is a recent graduate of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a former Fulbright scholar in Israel. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy with a focus on conflict resolution and mediation at Tel Aviv University. Ezra is the founder of, and co-host of the podcast “Israel: Beyond the Headlines with Ezra and Alec."
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