The IDF is a very trusted institution. No small feat in a region where lying is almost as common as breathing. (It’s not regarded as dishonesty but as defending your dignity.) The IDF is not so much trusted because it consists of pure saints only. Rather, because of conscription, both the left and the right serve. (Including Israeli antisemites who would tell after their military service with tears in their eyes of atrocities that they committed as IDF soldiers that were never committed.) So, no political spin can keep up any falsehood because some others will come with the facts if violated.
Also, the IDF rules of combat are the most moral in the world. They were written with some of the greatest rabbis alive. Every army in the world could take a leaf out of its moral code. Next to training to obey orders impeccably, soldiers’ personal needs are to be strictly supported as stipulated in detail. An Arab Muslim, a vegan, a super-religious Jews, a transgender, should all be able to serve safely and with dignity. And also the enemy is fully respected as soon as s/he’s does not consist of a danger anymore. Which doesn’t mean that mistakes are not made.
But all conscripts are trained to follow the highest moral standards. This comes on top of their idealism to sacrifice years of their young lives for the safety of everyone, at the danger of death even, Heaven forbid.
I don’t think that I reveal any state secrets if I write that the IDF is one big mess. Nothing works, and what works, works backward. (And I almost didn’t exaggerate.) People who say that we don’t need to pray for our safety and that Israel’s survival is guaranteed by its superior army don’t know what they are talking about. Being sloppy is the regional default too.
But as with any institution, it doesn’t like to wash its dirty laundry in public. So what gets out is generally a polished-up version of the truth.
For this reason, it often takes forever for the IDF to comment on what is going on. It needs to be the truth (which may need verification) but it shouldn’t make the IDF look bad (which needs editing and endless levels of superiors approving). So if there was a mishap, an inquiry is promised.
The delayed reactions in themselves are bad publicity. This makes that many times, terrorists and their enablers get their antisemitic lies out to the antisemitic world media and Haaretz and to the naive reader, hours before the IDF says what really happened. But such is bureaucracy. And then it’s already old news and no one cares to spread it. But such is bureaucracy — though I’m told, they’re working on this.
And the IDF spend much money, time, and effort on getting the truth out.
Still, major news organizations abroad may report that the IDF attacked targets in Gaza after failing to report that the junta there fired rockets at civilians in Israel first. But nowadays, the IDF then writes to them, Why do you leave out what we wrote about their aggression? With good results.
And then there is secrecy and voluntary censorship of the Israeli media. Israel has real and deadly enemies. Including international lawfare that tries to conquer us based on pure lies. Guarding our safety is no game of Monopoly. Not all could be revealed and some secrets stay under-cover forever. But that is for security, not for pretense or as a cover-up.
The above describes the day-to-day situation. Now about a recent instance when the IDF put out a blatant lie. In a fire exchange with Lebanon/Iran terrorists, Israeli soldiers got a full hit, it seems from pictures, and the IDF reported severe casualties. The terrorists were pleased and the situation calmed down. Then the IDF came out with a declaration that it had lied to deescalate the situation. No IDF soldier was hurt whatsoever!
Was this OK? A lengthy editorial made me aware that half a year later, the jury is still out on that one. Let me suggest what the rule should be.
The parallel is an excellent intimate relationship. Even the smallest lie or pretense diminishes the closeness. By default, one should never lie. But, if exceptionally, one did utter a variation on the truth, one should admit it ASAP. That’s all there is to it.
So, I’m not talking about people who started an extramarital affair without consent of their partner and pile lie on lie. That must be admitted as a major sin and if trust then can be rebuilt is doubtful and would take time.
No, I’m referring to throwing a surprise birthday party. Or making a joke where you put the listener on the wrong foot (to make it come out funny). In those cases, you had no ill intent. But you must say sorry for the lie fast.
As a Zionist, just after getting married, upon making aliyah, I volunteered for serving in the IDF (twice). Never mind that I was out of shape and old. They certainly could use some of what I was good at, no? They almost wetted their pants from laughter but just managed to keep a straight face and said: Thank you. We don’t need you but we’ll get your kids. And indeed, several of them did or do serve now. Very proud of them.
Happy Valentine’s day everyone!