UPDATES 10 am Israel time Friday:
*Your humble servant has been waiting for some extra time this morning to publish this blog to see what John Kerry announces in his press conference at Ben Gurion airport before leaving for Brunei. The question is simply “What concessions and preconditions has Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to in order to get Abbas and the PLO to come to the “negotiating” table so that Netanyahu can then give away more?”
If and when that press conference takes place, these updates will be updated.
*Across the border, Egypt has erupted in violence. From Cairo to Port Said to Alexandria, Egyptians are in the streets protesting against the darling of the west, Mohamed Morsi. We’ll see how long it takes for the Egyptian Army, now largely under the leadership of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, to intervene.
There was a time when the elite combat units of the Israel Defense Forces as well as the corps of IDF officers were dominated by recruits and soldiers from the Israeli kibbutzim. The kibbutzniks were in large part rugged, secular, Zionist pioneers whose attachment to the land could be seen in the establishment of kibbutzim in remote areas throughout Israel and on Israel’s borders.
That time has passed.
Today, the elite combat units and the officer corps are becoming increasingly manned by recruits and soldiers from Judea and Samaria.
For example, this past Tuesday saw a graduation ceremony at Latrun for 99 students who completed the IDF company commander course. Out of those 99 students, a remarkable 22 were from Samaria.
To put it a different way, about 22% of the new company commanders are from a segment of the Israeli population which constitutes only about 5% of the country.
Actually this is not very surprising given the basic facts:
*In the last two years, 81.2% of all eligible males in Samaria enlisted in the IDF compared with a national average on 74.8% (those 18 year olds who do not enlist in the IDF usually perform some form of national service, seek deferments, or attempt to receive military exemptions)
*88.5% of the 81.2% of the IDF recruits from Samaria serve in IDF combat units compared with a national average of 65.3% of the 74.8%
Why are numbers for Samaria so high?
In a recent interview with Yigal Brand, a reserve commander in the reconnaissance company of the 27th Armored Division, we can find some of the answers. Brand grew up in Kedumim in Samaria and then moved to Yair Farm (also in Samaria) with his wife and four children. Here are his comments:
“It begins with education and the atmosphere where you grew up and the area where you live. I now live in a community with 50 families, and everyone here does reserve. During the Second Lebanon War (2006) and Operation Cast Lead (2009), there were no men in my community.”
Education and atmosphere. Kedumin and Yair Farm. Exposure to daily terrorism from Palestinians. This is one of the many factors that form a love of one’s country and show one the importance of fighting to defend that country.
One last observation: Israelis living in central Israel have grown comfortable letting Israelis living in Judea and Samaria (and southern Israel) serve as cannon fodder for the Palestinians. It is no wonder that the percentage of IDF recruits from this area continues to drop.