What will the morning bring? A day like any other – kids going to school, grown-ups going to work, home, food, showers, sleep – or, perhaps there will be a war?
In larger countries, in calmer places in the world, it is unnecessary to consider these possibilities. Things don’t change that fast. The threats aren’t immediate and extreme.
Not so in Israel.
The difference between normal routine and all-out existential war lie with the decisions of certain specific individuals – the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, the IDF Chief of Staff. There is no room for mistakes. This is an awesome and terrifying responsibility to have on your shoulders.
This week a new IDF Chief of Staff took on the responsibility of leading our military, defending our legacy and protecting our future. Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Israel’s 22nd IDF Chief of General spoke of his responsibility and vision, defining his role and that of the IDF in a way I have never heard before.
Being safe and feeling safe are not the same but listening to his words, hearing his perspective immediately made me feel safer than I did before.
I wish my translation of his words could do justice to the original. The depth of meaning behind his words and the sophisticated beautify of conveying the complex in simple terms cannot be conveyed by this translation however the principles he detailed are clear. These were further emphasized by the actions he took following this speech – together with the Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the exiting Chief of Staff. They went to the Kotel to pray with the Chief Rabbis of the Kotel and the IDF.
They also visited the IDF Mount Herzl Memorial Hall for Fallen IDF soldiers.
Visiting these two locations symbolizes the responsibility of the Chief of Staff, to protecting the ancient legacy of Israel by enabling our people to live in freedom, protecting the living and honoring the memory of each and every soldier who died to fulfill this task.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, January 15th, 2019:
“I swear!” This is the oath I cried out with my fellow soldiers in front of the Kotel, the cradle of the culture of the Jewish People, our wall of support and protection.
Two thousand years passed and a wall of protection was created in the form of the IDF. Like generations of soldiers, I took my oath and became a link in the chain of generations standing in defense of the state.
Every soldier declares: “I swear!” expressing in two compact words giving up the personal in favor of the national.
The national home established here is a wondrous work unparalleled in the history of the nations, but it is planted in an area which, for national and religious reasons, attempts to reject its roots. And our mission is to protect it. This requires clear vision, a competent military force, willingness to operate it, good judgment and determination. In this spirit, we will act.
In this spirit, the IDF operated under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, time and again proving its capabilities in defending our borders and interior, extending a long arm to eliminate threats. During his leadership, the IDF strengthened its units and increased its readiness. As I take the position of the head of the army, in the name of all its soldiers and officers, I thank you and salute you.
I take on this position with awe and see it as a privilege. The IDF is my second home. I love the IDF and all its soldiers, and intend to lead, together with the General Staff and the involvement of all levels, in recognition of the strength of the people involved. I trust you and am proud to command you. Every soldier is a precious asset that we have received for safekeeping and concern for all who serve is for us a commandment [order] as is [honoring] the memory of the fallen, strengthening and supporting the bereaved families and the wounded, and the obligation to return the missing [held hostage by Hamas].
Now, in my turn, from the moment I assume responsibility for the leadership of the army, I commit to devoting all my energies, in a critical and demanding manner, to strengthening the protective wall. Victory and being mission-oriented will be our main values, and we will fulfill every mission that we initiate or take upon ourselves with precision and determination, with [all] the means at our disposal. The principle guiding our actions will be readiness and change. We must constantly prepare for the challenges of the present, in accordance with the current battlefield and at the same time, be able to change in accordance with current combat characteristics and future challenges. At the center of the change will be deadliness and multi-arm capabilities. The combination of the two will lead to an increase in the ability to damage the enemy and will be part of our mission to provide a lethal, efficient and innovative army that preserves its purpose and uniqueness.
The IDF is the army of the people,
in defense of the people,
that respects its soldiers – who come from all parts of the nation,
that gets stronger from the support of the nation,
and embodies the good in the nation.
This is a fighting organization, professional and representative of the state,
led by its officers,
ready for every mission,
acting in accordance with the law and the decisions of the Government of Israel,
and in the spirit and values of the Jewish people.
The IDF is, by definition, a defense force
And yet, initiation and attack are is in its character
And its purpose is victory.
Like every soldier at the moment of the oath, I too undertook “to devote all my efforts to the defense of the homeland.” Now, as Chief of the General Staff, I have before me the stones of [the wall of] national security and the good of the state, I take the same oath once more.
The work ahead of us is extensive, I trust you, good luck to us all.
As far as I am concerned, the only thing left to say after this is: Amen.