CBY Hosts a Behind-the-Scenes Look at the IDF

Teaneck—Br. General Ben Tzion (Bentzi) Gruber, Vice Commander (reserves) of Division 252 of the Israel Defense Force (IDF), an armored division of 20,000 soldiers, will be the guest speaker at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, Saturday night, May 10, at 10 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. The topic of his presentation will be “Ethics in the Field: An Inside look at the Israel Defense Forces.”

Br. General Gruber will highlight issues IDF commanders and soldiers are faced with daily in combat situations. He will discuss logistical, tactical, and ethical decisions—specifically what goes into locating terrorists in civilian populations. He’ll discuss IDF’s unique ethical code as well as the effectiveness of the IDF’s preventative efforts against terrorist attacks. To illustrate his points he will share rare IDF footage in a multimedia presentation.

Gruber told JLBC that after he realized that Israel had a public relations problem, “I decided I needed to do something about it. The current system is to repeat the lie over and over until it is believed. If no one stands up and says ‘No, this is not the truth,’ people will think that it is the truth. There is the image of what the media says we’re doing and then there’s the truth.”

He created “Ethics in the Field” as his personal initiative to shatter the myths and present the facts that are missing in today’s discussion of the IDF and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I try to take the audience behind the scenes and show them what we do and what the rules of engagement are,” he says. “Typically, soldiers have eight seconds to figure out what is happening and how to respond in accordance with IDF’s rules of engagement.”

Gruber will also introduce participants to a program he initiated called “Chesed in the Field,” that is an outgrowth of “Ethics in the Field.” It brings together IDF reservists and chronically ill or disabled individuals for special events throughout the year. The program educates and inspires everyone involved and helps instill core values of social responsibility and a sense of community in the hearts of thousands of soldiers and enables them to find their moral compass.

According to Gruber, “You have to find a way to train officers to behave in the way that you want. Under fire you don’t behave the way you do when you’re in shul. I want to make sure that we can be sensitive to the crying of a baby before and after we’ve been in war. If you can’t hear the crying of a baby, then we may as well close up shop. And a baby is a baby regardless of its nationality.”

Once a month, outstanding soldiers have a ceremony at Masada. As part of “Chesed in the Field,” children from surrounding areas are invited to attend. After the soldiers receive their commendations, the children receive their own certificates. As is the custom, water is poured over the heads of the soldiers to commemorate their achievements; however, the water is poured by the children. Following that, everyone takes a plane ride over Masada, piloted by Gruber, and then there is a celebratory meal shared by soldiers, children, and family members. As Gruber says, “The most important thing in the world is to perform an act of kindness for another.”

If you are interested in learning more about or supporting “Ethics in the Field,” visit www.bentzigruber.com.

By Sara Kosowsky Gross