A sense of betrayal

Past deeds of heroism are no justification for present acts of subversion.

Demonstrators block Route 1, the main highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and clash with police near Ein Hemed, July 11, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Demonstrators block Route 1, the main highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and clash with police near Ein Hemed, July 11, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Martin Sherman
Martin Sherman
Martin Sherman spent seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli defense establishment. He is the founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a member of the Habithonistim-Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF) research team, and a participant in the Israel Victory Project.

Thy destroyers and thy demolishers shall emerge from within thee. — Isaiah 49:17

A situation has been created with centers of power with authority without responsibility. … This is not democratic. … The Supreme Court is one of those centers. — Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe “Bogey” Yaalon in an address to the Jewish Leadership faction of the Likud Party, Aug. 19, 2009.

The Supreme Court … is the only barrier against regime tyranny and dictatorship. — Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe “Bogey” Yaalon, Maariv, Feb. 14, 2023.

I write these lines with a heavy heart, a profound sense of sadness and after much soul-searching. Nonetheless, I have no alternative but to convey the sense of anguish I feel.

During operations in enemy territory—at times completely alone—I frequently found myself in high-risk situations. These were dangers that I accepted without reservation because I believed wholeheartedly in the necessity of these missions and in the commanders who assigned them to me. I never had a shadow of a doubt as to my commanders’ commitment to the Zionist enterprise or their devotion to the national security of Israel and the personal security of Israelis. It was crystal clear that their orders were not tainted by ulterior motives or sectarian bias.  

Vitriol and vilification

Thus, the recent behavior of many past and present senior members of Israel’s security establishment came as a severe shock to me, rocking the very foundations on which I have built my life in this country.

For example, it was appalling to hear Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amiram Levin’s vitriolic vilification of the army he served for over three decades. According to Levin, “The IDF has begun to be party to war crimes in a profound process reminiscent of processes that took place in Nazi Germany.”

It would, of course, be intriguing to discover just how the actions of the IDF today substantially differ from those undertaken during Levin’s service. If there is no such difference, what do the accusations say about the accuser?

No less disturbing were the words of scorn and contempt from my former commander, Mossad director Shabtai Shavit, leveled at over half the nation to whose defense he devoted almost his entire adult life. According to Shavit, the political preferences of the majority of the Israeli public prove “we have a people with no moral backbone.”

Lamentably, Shavit found it necessary to affix his signature to a letter endorsed by an array of other former senior security personnel—including several forced to resign in disgrace—that supported dereliction of duty by IDF reservists. Such dereliction is allegedly undertaken in “defense of democracy,” despite the fact that it was patently intended to bolster the ruling oligarchy.

Concocting motives

It would be interesting to know if these former security experts were actually aware of just how ludicrous the text to which they attached their signature is. It reads, “The legislative process [promoting judicial reform] violates the social contract that has existed for the last 75 years between the government of Israel and the thousands of reserve officers and soldiers in the armed forces on land, in the air, in the sea and in the intelligence services, who volunteered for many years of reserve duty to defend a democratic State of Israel.”

After all, who really believes IDF soldiers in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were motivated by the knowledge that Supreme Court justices were playing a vital role in determining their successors and unelected bureaucrats had the authority to void decisions of elected governments.

After all, who could doubt that without the inviolability of those building blocks of the regime (which, by the way, did not even exist back then!):

  • IAF pilots would not have taken off to attack enemy airfields in Sinai;
  • IDF troops would not have stormed fortified Syrian positions on the Golan;
  • Israel’s wildly outnumbered armored units would not have valiantly thwarted the Syrian advance into the north of the country;
  • Agents of the Mossad and the Shin Bet would not have risked their lives to uncover enemy secrets and defend Israel’s secrets.

Adopting a puerile attitude of “Look what you made me do!” the former security experts accuse Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of “crushing the common foundation of Israeli society, ripping the nation apart, dismantling the IDF and inflicting a mortal blow on Israel’s security.”

In fact, precisely the opposite is true.

Past heroism does not justify present subversion

Those who purposely inflict grave damage on Israel, its security, its economy and its international standing are none other than those who refuse to accept the verdict of the voters. They are those who, under the thin and tattered guise of “patriotism” and “commitment to democratic values,” call for the abandonment of vital positions in the national security system, deliberately inflicting harm on the economy and an international boycott of Israel’s elected leaders.

There is no disputing that many of the former security experts who oppose the current government have played an important role in molding the history of the State of Israel. But their illustrious past does not confer ownership of the state on them, nor grant them the right to veto policy decisions of elected governments. Certainly, their past heroism does not justify their current subversive incitement.

So, although once I considered them exemplary figures worthy of great admiration, today, lamentably, I confess their behavior arouses nothing but a bitter sense of personal betrayal.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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