The Hebrew of the IDF, and What It Says about Israeli Society

When an Israeli infantryman radios for a helicopter to remove two wounded comrades, and the corpse of a third, from the battlefield, he says, “We have two flowers and one oleander. We need a thistle.” Other militaries, writes Matti Friedman, have their own jargon that similarly obscures what goes on in war, but IDF lingo may be uniquely horticultural. “What,” Friedman asks, “does this say about Israel’s military?”

Perhaps [it says] something about the agricultural preoccupations of the kibbutz and of the socialist militias that spawned the army in the early years of the state. Even after he became the country’s most famous general and the defense minister in the Six-Day War, Moshe Dayan used to say his profession was “farmer”—the point being that war was to be treated as something you were forced to do, though you’d rather be plowing. This is still close to what I experienced as the Israeli military’s ideal approach to soldiering or command. . . .

According to the Israeli linguist Ruvik Rosenthal, author of a recent book on military language, the floral euphemisms reflect the fact that while Israelis recognize the necessity of war, they don’t celebrate it and would rather not think about it. The fact of the country’s mandatory draft means that people are too close to the army to wax romantic about the institution or what it does. There are no military parades here and haven’t been for years. So though as soldiers we did violence and had violence done to us, we were armed with peaceful language. A forward operating base sounds dangerous; a “pumpkin” doesn’t.

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More about: Hebrew, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Kibbutz movement, Moshe Dayan, War

 

The Palestinian Authority Deliberately Provoked Sunday’s Jerusalem Riots

Aug. 16 2019

On Sunday, Tisha b’Av—the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the two Jerusalem Temples—coincided with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. While the Israeli government had initially banned Jews from the Temple Mount on that day, it later reversed its decision and allowed a few dozen to visit. Muslim worshippers greeted them by throwing chairs and stones, and police had to quell the riot by force. Just yesterday, an Israeli policeman was stabbed nearby. Maurice Hirsch and Itamar Marcus place the blame for Sunday’s violence squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinian Authority:

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More about: Palestinian Authority, Temple Mount, Tisha b'Av