Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir / TPS
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman

by Ilana Messika

The Movement for the Jewish State has called on Defense Minister Liberman and IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot to rescind the promotion of Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz, currently IDF Spokesperson, to head of the IDF Manpower Directorate on the grounds of unprofessional and discriminatory behavior.

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Speaking to Tazpit Press Service on Monday, Ziv Maor, an attorney for the group, said the promotion of Almoz is unreasonable because “when an IDF officer acts in an unprofessional manner, the decision to promote him into a position where he would have even more power, authority and responsibilities over the army is unjustifiable.”

Earlier in the day, the Movement wrote to Liberman and Eisenkot, outlining three instances that illustrate Almoz’s allegedly “extremist agenda.”

The letter mentions criticism by Almoz of Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier accused of shooting a neutralized terrorist following a stabbing incident in Hebron. Almoz said Azaria does not represent the IDF nor its values. That comment, said Maor, is tantamount to having a combat medic abandon a soldier on the battlefield without administering first aid.

“Our soldiers have the right to expect a military spokesman to back them up when they find themselves attacked in the media,” stated Maor.

“There are plenty of ways Almoz could have phrased his statement without completely besmirching Azaria’s name and leaving him in the trenches while also remaining true to the facts of the case. What Almoz did is akin to an army doctor refusing to treat a wounded soldier and runs contrary to the standards expected from someone in his position,” Maor said.

The second incident relates to harsh criticism, leveled by an unnamed soldier at then-incoming IDF Chief Rabbi Eyal Karim, regarding the incorporation of transgender people in the army.

“Before speaking to the press, a soldier must get authorization by the IDF Spokesman in order to prevent the besmirching of a high-ranking officer by another soldier. By allowing these statements to be released, Almoz also demonstrated his belief that the rank of colonel means less when the insignia are on the shoulders of a Rabbi than on other soldiers,” Maor said.

The last instance refers to Almoz’s “denigrating and incompetent words” when referring to Karim’s statements about permission for Orthodox soldiers to grow beard or to serve in gender-segregated units, two issues which have been heavily debated in Israeli society about the place of religious soldiers in the army.

“The conclusion that we draw from these statements are that if you are a religious person and choose to live your life according to the rabbi’s rulings, Almoz represents an official position that the rabbi’s view is of lesser value. That is unacceptable,” stated Maor.

“The IDF Spokesperson’s role is to represent the unity of the army, to portray a body that everyone should look up to and want to serve in. Almoz has done the exact opposite of that.”

In Israeli Law, the Supreme Court is mandated within its role as the High Court of Justice to exercise judicial review over the ‘reasonability’ of moves made by other branches of government. That allows the judiciary to hold the legislative and executive branches to a reasonable standard of conduct.

“As such, we can petition the Court on the ‘unreasonable’ act of the Defense Minister and Chief of General Staff (of appointing Almoz), as was done by Meretz MKs during the recent debate over the appointment of Rabbi Eyal Karim,” Maor said.

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