Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

But Can They Do Their Job

As a physician I receive the monthly magazine from the regulatory authority that gives me my licence to practise medicine.  The magazine is broken down into three sections.  The first is the latest news from the authority, the second is full of new policies and regulations and the third contains summaries from disciplinary proceedings against doctors who have broken the authority's rules.
Guess which section everyone flips to when the magazine arrives in the mail?
Now many times it's quite easy to follow how the doctors in the summaries wound up in trouble and why they were being punished.  However, sometimes the charges lead me to scratch my head in wonder.  For example, a doctor who is convicted of a crime completely unrelated to his practice of medicine might wind up before the authority's disciplinary commitee to receive a second punishment after already having been convicted by the justice system.  Other times things that have nothing to do with the doctor's ability to practice medicine lead to a hearing even though no patients were harmed by the physician's indiscretion.
The purpose of the authority is the ensure the safe and effective practice of medicine so that patient safety and health outcomes are maxmized.  This is a goal any physician could agree with but when the authority goes after doctors for peripheral matters I sometimes wonder if it's running out of things to do and just looking for business.
The Israeli army seems to have adopted the same kind of reasoning as the medical authority as this article details:
Four of the nine religious cadets who walked out of a military event as a female soldier began singing solo will be dismissed from their officers' course, an IDF committee has decided.
The remaining five soldiers will continue the course after managing to convince the committee that the move had not been preplanned.
The incident took place on Monday evening during an event focusing on Operation Cast Lead. When female soldiers began singing solo as part of a military band, the religious troops chose to leave the auditorium.
They were followed by Regiment Commander Uzi Kileger, who informed them angrily: "If you don't come back inside immediately, you will be refusing orders. Anyone refusing an order will be dismissed from the course."
According to the General Staff orders, a religious soldier is entitled not to take part in recreational activity which contradicts his lifestyle and faith, but the orders do not apply to non-recreational military events.
On one hand I can understand the secular position that all soldiers need to participate equally in military events.  On the other hand, however, one has to ask: exactly how did walking out of the ceremony affect these cadets' military abilities? They could have stood up and protested.  They could have demanded that the event be changed or cancelled.  Instead they absented themselves and allowed the performers to continue without interruption.  Exactly how is that inconsiderate or subordinate?  How does it affect their performance as soldiers?
From what I can tell, this incident is more an overreaction by the commanding officer than an important blow for pan-army discipline regardless of background.  Especially in Israel, it is important to remember that there is always a secular-religious tension present and that doing certain things to lower than tension in non-military settings like memorial ceremonies is something that has to be considered.
In recent years the army has made tremendous strides in terms of assimilating religious recruits into its ranks.  The Dati Leumi presence has become stronger and now Chareidim are joining in even greater numbers.  This will require a certain level of accomodation from the high command that will have no impact on what the army's actual job - defending the country - is. Hopefully it will come.

7 comments:

Bob Miller said...

What sane person would want to discourage the highly motivated religious soldier?

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

There are many in the secular community who feel threatened by the motivated religious. For a long time the army was considered the crown jewel of secular society and the idea that the religious would one day take it over by showing the same fervour that seculars once showed a couple of generations ago is frightening to them

JRKmommy said...

If one judged doctors solely by reading the discipline reports, one would have to conclude that 80% are psychiatrists having sexual relations with patients, 20% are pushing narcotics, but almost none are incompetent.

The truth, of course, is that concerns about treatment itself generally go to a different committee. Being less than perfect doesn't mean that a doctor is unfit to practice, and the committee will consider whether extra training or supervision may resolve any issue. The discipline committee is generally reserved for those who broke the law, or who cannot be trusted to practice within the rules.

I understand the general concept in the military that the actual skill of a soldier is irrelevant if that soldier cannot be trusted to follow orders. If a soldier would refuse to break up a demonstration or carry out an evacuation order, for example, that would be a serious breach of discipline and indicate a lack of control.

OTOH, I think that the order given to these soldiers to stay for the concert even after they expressed religious concerns was totally out of line with established IDF policy of religious accommodation. There was no military reason to order the soldiers to stay. I agree that the IDF should be doing what it can to accommodate religious soldiers, not alienate them, especially since refusing to do so will just increase the rate of yeshivah exemptions, which in turn weakens both the army and the general Israeli economy.

Bob Miller said...

I understand your comment Garnel, but wouldn't these people rather win wars? To degrade the country's defensive capabilities out of pique is very dumb.

Garnel Ironheart said...

It's the same idiot thinking that leads fire departments in Canada to hire people based on on gender rather than ability. Honestly, if you're trapped in a burning house do you want (a) the biggest, stronger firefighter to come and rescue you regardless of its gender/sexual orientation or (b) someone whose background is reflective the community the department represents?
Same thing here. It makes no sense to us but for them "It's our way or no way at all!"

f/e said...

i think jrkmommy summed it up very nicely "understand the general concept in the military that the actual skill of a soldier is irrelevant if that soldier cannot be trusted to follow orders."
post gush katif, the kippa sruga soldier is on one handed respected as being a dedicated soldier, but suspect that he will defy an order if he feels it is against his religious beliefs. as a mother of a kipa wearing combat soldier, it is very interesting to see that while there are so many religious soldiers in these units, there are men who arent being allowed to serve bc they have been arrested in the past for being at an illegal protest.
your analogy seems to show a lack of understanding of the general complexity of the situation,

Devorah said...

While I hear your point, and while I somewhat admire these soldiers' convictions, I have to ask whether these soldiers could have politely asked in advance whether there was going to be female singing. They knew they were going to hear a military band. The correct time to raise concerns would have been before, instead of insulting the women during the performance by causing a scene.

Many poskim argue that unless listening to a woman sing is deliberately sexually enticing, there's no real la'av of kol isha.