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Wednesday, December 8. 2010
The rump Senate may tonight try to force a vote on repeal of DADT.
One of the arguments raised for the US Congress repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the experience of Israel’s military in allowing those openly gay to serve. Israel’s Defense Force (IDF) is generally considered one of the more able in the world and there is little reporting of major reported problems with the policy. But, prominent studies of the matter are deficient to argue from the Israeli experience.
(It well may be so that DADT should be repealed at some point. Not now. There are too many issues of fact to be determined. There are too many effects that are yet unclear. There are too many management issues to be decided and implemented. There are too many more pressing stresses on the US military today, particularly upon our combat forces who are in majority opposed.)
The Pentagon study says, “To be sure, there is no perfect comparator to the U.S. military, and the cultures and attitudes toward homosexuality vary greatly among nations of the world. However, in recent times a number of other countries have transitioned to policies that permit open military service by gay men and lesbians. These include the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, and Israel.” But, “Working Group members interacted with senior military and civilian officials from the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia [not Israel] to study conditions prior to policy change, how they handled the transition, and what impacts, if any, they observed. The Working Group focused on these three countries because they are in many ways culturally similar to the United States, and their militaries are, like the U.S. military, all-volunteer forces and of similar size proportionate to their national populations. These nations also work closely with U.S. forces in international operations.” However, “None of these nations directly assessed the effects of the policy change on unit cohesion or combat effectiveness.”
The Palm Center, advocates for gay rights, issued a report in 2004 on Israel’s IDF reviewing sources, in which it found little indication of gays’ open inclusion undermining combat effectiveness. However, the report realizes that, “A third argument that experts have invoked to show that foreign military experiences are irrelevant for determining whether lifting the gay ban would undermine American military performance is that important organizational and cultural differences distinguish the United States from other countries that allow known homosexuals to serve. More specifically, they argue that the U.S. military is a unique institution that cannot be equated with foreign armed forces….In the case of Israel, this argument is correct.”
As for how well the 1993 lifting of the ban of openly gay service in the IDF has worked out for gays, for example, a survey released in 2006 by an Israeli “homosexual youth organization among homosexual and lesbian soldiers” found “52 percent of gay soldiers experienced some form of sexual harassment during their Israeli military service.” Hardly a ringing endorsement of a smooth transition.
This morning I asked a prominent expert in Israel about Israel’s IDF experience. He replied there is little problem, but: “Of course, there are differences from the US. For example, most Israeli soldiers go home at the end of the day and are not deployed far away from home. It is also a small country and everyone knows everyone else so people tend not to flaunt things, if you understand what I mean. (Regular sexual harassment has been a problem in the armed forces by the way.)”
He added, regarding the reply I gave a commenter to earlier posts of mine (here and here) on the DADT repeal issue, “You gave a very good answer. What I was hinting at was the difficult question of assessing the behavior of gays once in the military. In the US there is a militant movement that might make more and more demands and there will be some blatant displays right in front of people. Then there will be the law suits--the drill instructor was tougher on me because I was gay. ETC That doesn't happen in Israel. Remember that repealing DADT is ONLY the beginning of what could happen.”
Here's the comment and my reply:
P.S.:Senator Graham comments on the Democrats' haste to vote:
DADT Repeal: What Comes Next? Pentagon Asked, Tells Combat Troops Not To Tell
I care that some friends who are gay or defend gays, as I have at corporate career risk many times, have an opposite view of the immediate congressional repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). But, I care more about the immediate effect on the welfare
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Anyhow, good article. It actually helps me organize my thoughts on the matter when I eventually talk to my more liberal friends (academics and art types). I assume that eventually they will ask what I think because I am in the military (I am sort of like the token minority asked to speak out on behalf of all minorities. I am btw a minority.)
You raise many good points most of which don't have a prayer of being brought into the public discourse. All we will see is outbursts of emotion and little or no analysis.
Love the site.//Larry
We are all a minority of one. To say anything else is racist. Are you a racist?
If anyone here wants to really see what combat-living conditions are like please see the film "Restrepo". It can be viewed online through Netflix. There are some trailers out there that claim you can see the whole thing on their site, but I have not found that to be true. Pay the $$ watch the film all 90 minutes of this documentary. When you are finished you will no longer doubt that gays should not be allowed to serve in the US military!
My experience as a volunteer in the zahal is that if they had esprit de corps they did fine . However primadonnas suffered simply because they lacked the macho bravado they would not get along with the program(for example diving head first in a stream with boulders portruding, from a 14 m cliff)Served both in Golani & in Field Intel.Also the female combat soldier is heavily exaggerated the only mixed unit never saw combat & the only female unit both serve as border patrol only.Might be biased because I'm an observant Jew.Can't serve in the US army 'cause I won't shave.
Many many differences, among them:
1) Army service in Israel is compulsory and still viewed as a patriotic duty. The army doesn't get to choose who to admit - just what they will do.
2) Army culture is much different. The IDF made a big effort to foster a bottom-up culture of small independent units, with autonomy built on small group cohesion. The US army is not there yet.
Also we are more results oriented - when your country's existence is on the line, you don't have time for PC nonsense. That's why only a handful of women have made it into combat units - as we say in Hebrew, "no discounts" = no excuses are made for them.
3)Israeli culture is much different. There are fewer out-n-proud gays per capita, and many more religious/traditional people: Orthodox Jews are 1/4 to 1/3 of the Jewish population, traditional Jews are another 1/3, and the Arab sector is deeply conservative on this issue. And secular society is still much more unironically macho.
The "knitted kippah" Orthodox have largely replaced the left-wing kibbutzniks in the elite units. In the field and in the small, tight groups of combat units, the lone gay soldier will have to accommodate himself to these people, not the other way around. Which leads to:
4) This is a small country - entire population less than the NY metro area. The population of gay soldiers in the IDF is probably too small to draw any conclusions. And the population of gay soldiers going out for combat units is probably smaller.
The largest group shirking army service - almost tied with the "ultra" orthodox - are left-leaning Tel-Aviv metrosexuals. This is the community to which gay teens gravitate when they come out. It's unlikely many of them are that gung-ho about army service - these are the folks who think the IDF are baby-killers.
Let's not project a fantasy just because the rule is on the books.
I haven't read the entire survey or report, but I note something that I believe is being distorted. Something like 2/3 of combat arms unit personnel report that openly accepting gay members is likely to cause problems. That is NOT THE SAME as saying they are opposed to serving with people who are gay.
Let us say that an Army platoon of about 50 men has a well-known hater of homosexual men among their number. The other 49 range from from neutral to accepting of gay men in the unit. Probably all 50 -- 100% -- of the unit members believe, and will respond, that introducing a homosexual comrade to the unit will produce some sort of trouble, because it probably will. In my hypothetical (very hypothetical) situation, 98% are neutral or accepting; all are aware of the potential problem; 2% of the unit actively oppose accepting homosexual men. We are going to continue an injustice to a small minority in order to accommodate 2% who have a problem? I hope not.
The numbers aren't that easy. Likely far more than 2% of combat arms men are uneasy or hostile to homosexual men. Some of those who are uneasy or even hostile may be ready to try to accept homosexual team members. Some aren't going to come around no matter what the leadership try to do.
The Israeli experience is surely different from the American experience. A key element remains: there is nothing inherent in homosexual people that makes them unfit for military service. Or if there is, no one has produced evidence of it.
Thanks for keeping with the conversation, Geoff.
I agree with your "A key element remains: there is nothing inherent in homosexual people that makes them unfit for military service."
And, that alone is not enough to outweigh the other "key elements" for not now, as discussed in my prior posts and this one.
This post just added more facts undermining one of the spurious claims being made for now.
"Inherent" that is to say a genetic, or behavorial pre disposition to a particular response. That does not include a conversation about recruitment. Recruitment into a particular type of behavio
From what I have seen of the IDF through my children's experience, there are a quite a few open gays doing desk jobs in Tel Aviv--which is honorable service, don't misunderstand me--and fewer 'out' in the combat units. That may miminize the chances for personal conflict. But the plural of anecdote is not 'data', etc.
By "inherent" I mean something about homosexual activity or homosexual orientation itself. I make no reference here to where the same-sex attraction originates. Experience shows that homosexual soldiers perform their duties along the same gamut as other soldiers -- in support or in combat arms.
In the end, regardless of official accepting policy, it may prove that most homosexual servicemembers choose to be quiet and fly below the radar. Let the choice be his or hers, I say. Not at risk of discharge.
Oh, testify! "The plual of anecdote is not data." So very true!
As this and other posts show, there is no data collected. But, there are numerous anecdotes, leaning heavily toward that gays in the military are usually in support roles, not combat, whether serving openly or not. Reasons include their motivation and rejection by those at the frontline units.
It is similar for females.
Indeed, this may be the best argument for repeal of DADT, in that much of the concern may be overblown re; combat units.
But, without collecting data directly on this, which hasn't been done, rushing forward is unwise and reckless, particularly now. Yet, the "politically correct' refuse to gather direct data. So, we're asked to buy a pig in a poke instead.
First of all, the Israeli military is comprised of draftees. All must serve, except Orthodox Jewish women, married women, many full time Rabbinical students, Arabs, and people with medical problems. When Israeli Arabs are included in the statistics, most Israeli teens (that's over 50% Bruce) do not complete their IDF service.
The IDF published statistics which showed a rise in the relative number of draft evaders – people who falsely declare medical or mental problems, or otherwise avoid conscription dishonestly.
So why blame the "most religious observants"?
Get your facts straight. Then write an article that actually addresses the issue.
So, although it should be included, why would adding the draft avoidance encouraged by the Left in Israel undermine the case that Israel's open service is a guide to repeal of DADT? Instead, it demonstrates that the Left's pushing of enlarged "gay rights' is not concerned with concern for a larger source of those who serve.
Get your arguments straight (no pun intended).
I agree that some people pushing for open acceptance of homosexual servicemembers are enemies of the Armed Forces and may hope that such a policy will weaken the services.
I think they are wrong. I think that open acceptance of homosexual servicemembers will be mostly a non-event.
Excluding homosexual servicemembers, or including them, is a policy debate that defies hard data analysis. We are not likely to do a controlled study of combat unit cohesion (how to measure?) with some units excluding homosexual members and others including them openly.
When I first joined the military, homosexual conduct was prohibited. Now it looks like they might permit it. I'm getting out before it becomes mandatory.