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Text testimonies There was no way to think differently
catalog number: 71242
Rank: Sergeant
Area: Bethlehem area
period: 2000
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There was no way to think differently
Rank: Sergeant
Area: Bethlehem area
period: 2000

As an education non-commissioned officer, what are you supposed to do?Lots of things. It was mainly, there’s the whole topic of explaining the mission and educating soldiers to be highly dedicated to their mission.

Isn’t that what commanders are for?Okay, so an education non-commissioned officer works with the commander and helps him assimilate IDF values in the soldiers. Again, there’s the tenacity of purpose in performing missions, which is the first value, and there’s purity of arms of course, comradeship, responsibility. There are 11 I think – it’s really shameful and disgraceful that I can’t remember them all. And there’s the whole topic of abating, that is to say, to abate it. That means bringing bands and taking them on trips and tours. We really wanted to take the soldiers out, for example, to a pool, and then we contacted all kinds of Civilian Security Coordinators in settlements to let them use a pool. And there’s the whole topic of getting to know the area and its history to get the solider to feel attached to the place, to what he’s supposedly fighting for. And personally that was the most problematic thing in the world, and I had a lot of confrontations about it with the officer for whom I worked. Say, in Gush Etzion there’s this guy, I don’t know if he’s still alive. I don’t remember what his name is, but he’s a kind of ranger of sorts in this area, hiking all the time and there are always some kids with him and he walks around the whole area. He knows the territory; he always takes everyone to the streams in Gush Etzion. The officer told me all the time: “Come on already, take your soldiers, let *** give them a tour of the area.” And of course, within 10 minutes, it got insanely political. There’s a lonely oak tree in the Gush, next to one of the central settlements there. He started telling all these heroic battle stories about Gush Etzion. I don’t know, for me it was hard, espacially because I come from the wrong side of the political map. I’m sitting there and *** starts talking about the cradle of our culture, something like that. And I kind of cleared my throat. And the commander was really really happy because all the commanders in the battalion, like… there was no way to be… think differently.

What is differently?Differently, say against the war or against the occupation or something like that. There was no way.Has anyone ever said something and was silenced?Me. I asked him (the settler who guided the tour) not to get into it, and I was reprimanded by the commander. Clear and simple.

He took you aside?No not aside, in front of the soldiers. Why aside?

What did he say?Unpleasant things. He knew, he understood why I cleared my throat and said: “Well, we know your opinions, keep them to yourself,” something like that.

But you’re the education non-commissioned officer.Yes, but again, I’m not an authority. As far as he's concerned I can keep showing my discontent.

These tours take place all the time?Almost every company that reaches the area needs to go through a tour in the area and learn about Gush Etzion’s battle heritage.