by on January 23, 2012 9

Auschwitz concentration camp
Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland

Did you see this? From Ha’aretz, “Study: IDF officers less committed to Jewish values after visits to Nazi death camps.” The headline exposes unsatisfactory indoctrination levels in IDF soldiers.  The whole article is worth a read (especially to see how the paper doesn’t quote the actual report at all, yet then tries to do damage control by referring to a different survey that showed increased indoctrination levels among Israeli high schoolers who take similar trips).

Here’s the key section:

The study found that before going on the trip, officers expressed a very high level of commitment to the Jewish people and to preserving their Jewish heritage, and high levels of solidarity with the fate of other Jews.
In contrast, they expressed a lower – though still high – level of commitment to more universalist ideas, such as understanding the universal context of the Holocaust.
After they returned from the trips, however, the researchers found a drop in commitment to all values related to Jewish identity, including the importance of the Land of Israel for the Jewish people, the importance of the IDF’s existence, feelings of national pride in being Israeli, and a sense of a shared Jewish fate.
The study found a particularly dramatic decline in the importance the officers attached to Jewish and Israeli symbols, and to Diaspora Jewry.
The trips also produced a decline in IDF-related values, including commitment to the state and the army, feelings of leadership, and love of heroism.
In contrast, the trips produced no change in the officers’ commitment to universal democratic values such as human dignity, the sanctity of life and tolerance.

As a result, Ha’aretz reports, “Army sources said they were ‘stunned’ by the findings, which seem to indicate that the trips are achieving the opposite of their declared purpose.”

Note how the bad news of the report is that tribalist and exclusivist ideologies decline while ideas “such as understanding the universal context of the Holocaust” and a “commitment to universal democratic values such as human dignity, the sanctity of life and tolerance” remain the same.  Yeah, what a bummer.

About Nima Shirazi

Nima Shirazi is a political commentator from New York City. His analysis of United States foreign policy and Middle East issues is published on his website,, and can also be found in numerous other online and print publications. Follow him on Twitter @WideAsleepNima.