The death the other day in Lebanon of Uri Grossman, 20, an Israeli soldier and the son of the novelist David Grossman, who has been a peace activist in Israel, underscores a big difference between Israeli society and ours: In Israel, the children of the elite serve in the armed forces. If the 20-year-old son of an American novelist died in Iraq, we would just think, well that kid was a headcase. Privileged children have a choice here. They don’t in Israel.
As any fool knows, there is a moral hazard in that imbalance. When the elite make the big decisions, say to go to war, and their children don’t face the consequences, they are immunized from one of the heaviest duties of citizenship—getting the knock on the door that Cindy Sheehan got, and David Grossman.
This issue is gnawing at our public life. Last night on Charlie Rose, Richard Holbrooke spat at the neocon militarist Bill Kristol that unlike Holbrooke, Kristol had never been shot at. In his latest colum for the Israel Policy Forum, M.J. Rosenberg attacked neocon hawk Charles Krauthammer on the same grounds.
Readers of this blog know that I often look at the American power structure in religious terms: I think that the new establishment is basically affluent WASPs and affluent Jews, working fine together. So, let’s look at the composition of the American armed forces in religious terms.