Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The Israeli newspaper Arab 48 reports that protests against the government of Binyamin Netanyahu’s plans to gut the Israeli judiciary are now spreading in elite military reserve units. A petition circulated in their ranks saying,
“As long as these dictatorial and methodical pieces of legislation continue, with the aim of rescuing a criminal from prison [i.e. Netanyahu], we will not serve, or carry out the orders of crooks, corrupt criminals and parasites, who stand behind this coup against the very nature of our system.”
Uniformed reservists have attended anti-Netanyahu demonstrations. Arab 48 reports from Israel’s Channel 13 tv that even what are considered elite reservist combat units, including the Golani brigade, the Egoz unit and the Alpine unit have joined the protest movement. These are the the ones who patrol Mount Hermon in the Occupied Golan Heights (it belongs to Syria).
Their petition read, “We will never allow bullying, predation and corruption to dominate the state so that it is lost. And we were raised to monitor the enemy, even that internal one that disguises itself as a ‘brother’– a brother that eats for free, an idle shirker, who sends us or our children to pay taxes, to fight, to be wounded and to die for him in his stead, and lo, we have spotted the foul, stinking enemy, who lies without hesitation, and who for his own interest and the interest of his achievement of high office, money, and power, will not hesitate to navigate the whole ship toward sorrow and death.”
They pledged legal action against (they implied) Netanyahu, his wife Sara, his son Yair, and their whole coterie of hangers-on and enablers and sycophantic media [a swipe at the Adelsons’ rag Yisrael Ha-Yom, which is so far up Netanyahu’s posterior that it can tell you what he had for breakfast.]
(This is my translation of an Arabic translation of the Hebrew, so take it for what it is worth.)
They pointed out that it was the Israeli Supreme Court that allowed women to serve in the military, and they worried that its effectiveness as a national institution will be eroded if the Netanyahu government and the religious parties can sideline it.
They went on to say, “Those who refuse to serve can be easily found in the government, and among the voters (parties) of Shas and United Torah Judaism.”
So this is a vehement denunciation of the Ultra-Orthodox or Haredim, religious Israelis who are given special prerogatives by the Israeli government. They don’t have to serve in the army on the grounds that they are busy with seminary study of the Bible, and they have tax breaks and get government support.
And it seems to me that these elite army reservists who have to face Syria and Hezbollah and radicals are angered not so much that the Haredim exist but that their far right religious parties are now hegemonic in the Netanyahu government, and that they are willing to tinker with the very foundational institutions of Israel in order to pursue their narrow sectional goals.
Now parties such as Shas and Religious Zionism are offered high ministerial posts. Bezalel Smotrich is the minister of finance and has replaced the army in administering the Palestinian West Bank. Not only are the ultra-religious goldbricking, lazy sponges,the reservists are saying, but are now giving us our marching orders at the same time as they are taking a sledgehammer to the rule of law.
Arab 48 writes, “The “Sky Rider” unit of the Artillery Corps, which is considered an elite unit and operates attack drones, also joined the protests, according to the Israeli public radio, Kan. Soldiers and officers in the reserves signed petitions warning that they would refuse to continue volunteering in their units if legislation related to the plan to weaken the judiciary continued to be advanced.”
Army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevy has to be worried out of his mind about this development. The kind of talk these reservists are engaging in would be enough to get most military men busted down to private and thrown in the brig. But that is only a plausible course of action if the insubordinate are a relatively small minority. If you have all these elite units engaging in insubordination, that is a different problem. Then, you have to find a way to get them back on your side.