In a heartfelt interview with the journal of the Israel Bar Association published Wednesday, Military Advocate General Brigadier General Sharon Afek came out as a gay man and shared his pride at getting the conviction of Elor Azaria, who shot a stabbing terrorist dead after the latter had been neutralized. Afek was also proud of his ending the career of decorated war hero General Ofek Buchris over his sexual liaison with a consenting subordinate.
Brig. Gen. Afek, who has been in his post for about a year and a half, told Orech Din (Heb: Attorney) about the way the military had accepted him completely, regardless of his homosexuality: “When I was a young officer those were different times, and I was afraid that it would work against me and that I would really encounter a glass ceiling. Fortunately, [my being gay] did not arouse any special interest, and I never felt that the sexual orientation was a consideration in making decisions about me, and that’s a good thing.”
In return, Afek chose to focus only on the sexual misconduct of one of the IDF’s most heroic generals, ending his stellar career, during which he received a citation for heroism for his leadership of his Golani battalion in the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield.
Speaking to Orech Din about the conviction of Ofek Buchris in a plea bargain that ended his career, Afek said that the officer’s military past was not given excessive consideration: “When a plea bargain is formulated, everything is taken into consideration: the actions, the evidence, the public, the savings of the costs of a full judicial process, the position of the victims of the offense, and also the background of the defendant. In my view, the bottom line was that the plea bargain was appropriate and took into account all the relevant considerations.”
In a sense, the fact that Brigadier General Sharon Afek is in charge of enforcing the IDF’s values while facing no resistance from the brass over his sexual predilection is the best indication of the Israeli Army’s esprit de corps – a fact that was illustrated most vividly by the Sgt. Elor Azaria manslaughter conviction.
Afek told Orech Din that Azaria fired without justification and without any operational need, as if the case was of a policeman misusing his power against a civilian suspect. The very fact that the IDF chief prosecutor fails to see that a terrorist, by definition, had removed himself from the protection of the law – that’s where the IDF’s failure to eradicate terrorism begins and ends.
Obviously, Brigadier General Sharon Afek is entitled to his sexual orientation and to his success moving up the ranks despite said orientation; but when he declares, as he did in Wednesday’s interview, that the Azaria prosecution was “a legal and moral milestone in the history of military law,” he inevitably contributes to the debilitation of the IDF’s ability to function as a fighting army.