Press Release

Plesner: 'Political Echelon has Obligation to Support IDF Senior Commanders'

IDI President speaks out after heated conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon goes public.

In response to the heated conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon surrounding the latter’s speech on Independence Day, IDI President Yohanan Plesner said:

"The political echelon has an obligation to support IDF senior commanders in the face of unwarranted public criticism so that they will not be deterred from doing their important work. It is acceptable for senior officers to voice criticism, publicly, of negative social phenomena, such as racist statements and incitement to violence, that conflict with the IDF's core values and impede the army’s ability to execute its mission.

"The IDF is our nation's army and its officers are obligated to take responsibility for the education and shaping of future generations in accordance with the IDF's values, as articulated in "The Spirit of the IDF" document, which is a reflection of the core values of Israeli society."

In reference to comments made in recent days about the need to place limitations on public expressions by senior IDF officials, Plesner added:

"We must of course differentiate between what can be said publically and what must remain behind closed doors. But we should be clear about what can and should be said publicly: The high-ranking echelon of the IDF must speak openly about policies that have been approved by the IDF. In addition, they are obligated to speak freely about the values and moral character of the IDF, including the supreme values of life and human dignity. When speaking behind closed doors, officers should not have to worry about expressing their professional and moral opinions on relevant diplomatic and security issues—whether or not those views conform with the opinions of superiors in the military or civilian echelon."

He continued, "The idea that it is forbidden to criticize negative social phenomena that directly impact the IDF is unacceptable and dangerous. As such, Ya'alon's backing of his IDF officers is critical for the cohesion of Israeli society."

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