Elor Azaria: Statement by IDI President Plesner
In response to the conviction of Elor Azaria, Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) President Yohanan Plesner said:
“Regardless of the conviction of Elor Azaria, the public response to the incident reveals a deep fracture in Israeli society. A significant part of the Israeli public does not identify with the IDF’s code of ethics and its interpretation in practice by army officers.”
An October 2015 survey by IDI’s Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research found months before the incident that 53% of Israelis agreed with the statement that “every Palestinian who has perpetrated a terror attack against Jews should be killed on the spot, even if he has been apprehended and no longer poses a threat.” A September 2016 survey conducted after Azaria’s arrest found that the understandable fear of terrorism had led 70% of young adults aged 18-23 to support the shooting of incapacitated terrorists—in contravention of the IDF rules of engagement.
“The significant challenge that we as a nation must deal with has little to do with the specific legal decision concerning Azaria. Rather, our collective challenge, as a free society that seeks not only to survive but to thrive, is to maintain and strengthen the public's trust in the IDF and its officers. Simultaneously, we must reaffirm our obligation to the values of the IDF and its moral code of conduct.
“Our leaders must now spearhead a coordinated effort involving the education system, the IDF, and the political leadership. In pursuing this objective, they must display responsibility and statesmanship and avoid politicizing our collective obligation to the values of our people's army. If we allow our society's devotion to the army's code of ethics to weaken, it will harm the unity of the IDF as a people's army and hamper its ability to defend us all. Furthermore, a weakening of Israel's commitment to the purity of its arms will make it more difficult for the Jewish State to maintain the moral high ground in the struggle against BDS and to defend IDF officers in the international diplomatic and legal arenas.”
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