IDF Spokesman hoisted by own petard?

IDF Spokesman, Major Peter Lerner, expresses a political opinion. Problem: That’s forbidden to soldiers

Everyone who has had the misfortune to serve in the IDF – most Israeli Jews are forced to – has heard, time and time again, the slogan that “soldiers are not allowed to deal with politics.” Naturally enough, this was never true in the higher levels of the army: The Chief of Staff is generally a uniformed politician-to-be. When Dan Halutz said, as deputy CoS, that “[the soon-to-be evacuated settlements] Ganim and Qadim are home”, he was making a clear political statement. But, as a rule, the IDF attempted to apply the regulation to lesser ranks.

As Lisa Goldman showed earlier today, IDF Major Peter Lerner twice expressed political opinions – in his official Twitter account, no less. Lerner promoted a tweet by a Jews for Jesus organization, which considered the anti-NGO laws to be “a blow to foreign influence in its politics.” He further wrote that “IMHO, there should be full disclosure by orgs for ppl 2 know.” This sentences endorses the right wing fantasy – popularly promoted by the deceitful campaigns of Im Tirzu – that human rights NGOs hide their sources of income. Not only isn’t this true, Haaretz noted today that right wing NGOs get far more foreign money than human rights NGOs – and are much less open about it (Hebrew).

Major Lerner is an IDF Spokesman officer – to be precise, he is the spokesman for the Central Command. I asked the IDF Spokesman whether the prohibition against soldiers expressing political opinion is still in force; they said it was. I therefore asked what action does the IDF Spokesman intend to take against Major Lerner.

When the fact that Yair Netanyahu, son of the prime minister, wrote political comments in his Facebook page came to light, Sgt. Netanyahu was ordered to remove all of the political content written after he was drafted from his page (Hebrew). Sgt. Netanyahu’s infraction was relatively minor as, again, this was a private page. The same cannot be said for Major Lerner, who used his official account.

I’ll update when the IDF Spokesman replies. Naturally, this will probably take some time.