column

The ruling class must regain its senses

The Golani Infantry Brigade has rebelled and is getting away with it because the IDF General Staff has surrendered its moral power to discipline its soldiers.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at a ceremony at military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Jan. 1, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi at a ceremony at military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Jan. 1, 2023. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Caroline B. Glick
Caroline B. Glick is the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate and host of the “Caroline Glick Show” on JNS. She is also the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14, as well as a columnist for Newsweek. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a lecturer at Israel’s College of Statesmanship.

A group of soldiers from a company of Israel Defense Forces’ reservists in the Golani Infantry Brigade abandoned their posts at their training base in southern Israel on Tuesday and went home. The reservists revolted because they didn’t accept their battalion commander’s decision to replace their company commander with a company commander from the Paratrooper Brigade.

As Yediot Achronot’s military reporter Yossi Yehoshua reported, the last time that Golani experienced a mutiny of this dimension was in 2007. Back then, the top brass responded immediately, sentencing all of the soldiers to 56 days in jail.

This time, their commanders took their time responding and then hit them with a wet noodle. The soldiers were given suspended sentences and remanded to their base for a weekend.

The IDF’s decision to let the reservists off the hook for inexcusable behavior surprised no one. They had no choice. In February, a squadron of reserve Air Force fighter pilots shocked the country when they signed a letter announcing they would not serve in reserves so long as the Netanyahu government proceeded forward with its plan to place minimal limits on the powers of the Supreme Court and Attorney General. That is, they used their flight wings to extort the government and the public that voted it into office.

Rather than court-martial the pilots on charges of insurrection and sedition, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar opted to tolerate—and even coddle—the pilots in the hopes of getting them to relent.

The same cushy fate greeted the other leftist reservists from technology, artillery and other units.

When in response, flight mechanics announced that they would refuse to service the planes of the leftist pilots who refused to defend the country for political reasons, Halevi and Bar recognized that they couldn’t discipline them without destroying what was left of the unity of force in the Air Force. And now, Golani has rebelled and is getting away with it because the IDF General Staff has surrendered its moral power to discipline its soldiers.

The implications of this situation are devastating. And they were anticipated. Halevi and Bar were warned repeatedly that if the General Staff permitted IDF service to be used as a political weapon, the generals would rupture the chain of command and compromise the unity of the force. But Halevi, Bar and their fellow generals went ahead and legitimized it anyway. And like Humpty Dumpty, once the egg of non-politicization of military service was broken, it was broken.

‘Good’ vs. ‘bad’ Israelis

It would be bad enough if military unity was the only casualty of the rebellion of Israel’s ruling class. But, of course, it isn’t. Moody’s Investor Services didn’t lower Israel’s credit rating, despite massive efforts by Israel’s economic elites to convince the rankings service to do so. And Silicon Valley Bank’s crash demonstrated just how stupid Israel’s high-tech moguls were when they called for Israel’s wealthy leftists to pull their money out of the country.

But statements by the likes of Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron, former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, current opposition leader Yair Lapid, and dozens of retired generals and other members of the ruling class warning that Israel’s economy isn’t a safe bet and that Israel’s democracy is hanging by a hair did more to advance efforts by Israel’s enemies to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state and mainstream anti-Zionism than any U.N. resolution or any boycott campaign ever could.

One of the most extraordinary aspects of their campaign to overthrow the government through insurrection and demonization is its international bent. In the past three months, Lapid, Barak, Olmert, Livni, Ya’alon and their powerful comrades have turned to Washington and other foreign capitals to convince them to boycott Israel. Last week, Lapid flew to New York and met with American Jewish leaders to mobilize them against the only democratically elected Jewish leadership in the world: the Netanyahu government. Lapid met with powerful lawmakers to draft them into the service of overthrowing the government. Three weeks ago, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called publicly for foreign governments to boycott the Israeli government.

This week, Ya’alon met with visiting Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. His goal was self-evident. The former hardline Likud minister who in recent years has undergone an ideological makeover and joined the radical left insisted three years ago that governing coalitions comprised of terror-supporting Arab Knesset factions are preferable to governments with Netanyahu and Likud. In recent months, like fellow former chiefs of general staff Barak and Dan Halutz, Ya’alon has called for soldiers and police to disobey lawful orders. In the context of his current positions, the only possible explanation for his meeting with Graham was that he and his comrades now seek to convince Republicans to hate Netanyahu and his voters as much as Ya’alon and his new friends hate them.

Back when he was first running for president in 2008, Barak Obama said, “I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel, and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel.”

Obama’s remarks were panned by Israelis and American Jews for the contempt they displayed towards Israeli democracy. Likud is a major political party in Israel that has been the ruling party in the country far more often than not for the past 45 years because it is aligned with the views of the majority of Israelis. So whether or not you like Likud, if you support Israeli democracy, then you are expected to respect the will of the Israeli people. At the most basic level, you cannot be pro-Israel if you view the lawfully elected leaders of Israel as illegitimate.

Obama’s view has long been shared by many in the Democratic elite. In 2011, former President Bill Clinton gave a racist taxonomy of Israeli society as the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual conference. Ignoring that the Palestinians writ large rejected then—as they still reject today—any possibility of peaceful coexistence with Israel, Clinton blamed the bad, Netanyahu supporting Israelis for the absence of peace. Clinton explained that Israelis need to be divided into two groups: the good “pro-peace” Israelis and the bad “anti-peace” Israelis.”

By Clinton’s telling, “The most pro-peace Israelis are the Arabs; second the sabras, the Jewish Israelis that were born there; third, the Ashkenazis of longstanding, the European Jews who came there around the time of Israel’s founding.”

As for the bad Israelis, the former president and husband of the then-secretary of state, explained: “The most anti-peace are the ultra-religious who believe they’re supposed to keep Judea and Samaria, and the settler groups, and what you might call the territorialists, the people who just showed up lately and they’re not encumbered by the historical record.”

Back in 2008 and 2011, statements like Obama’s and Clinton’s were a cause for rancor, or at the very least, uncomfortable throat clearings among Israeli leaders on the left, and among liberal American Jews. But today, their contemptuous views of Israeli society are not merely accepted as legitimate. They have become the rallying cries of the Israeli ruling class that works with the Democrats and liberal American Jews to demonize and delegitimize not only Netanyahu and his government, but the majority of Israelis who voted them into office.

President Joe Biden has shown through his policies and statements on Iran, the Palestinians, Jerusalem, progressive anti-Semitism and a host of other issues of strategic importance to Israel that his Middle East policies are predicated on ideological positions that are hostile to Israel’s core national and strategic interests. Under normal circumstances, Biden’s hostile posture would place him in an uncomfortable position vis-à-vis the overwhelming majority of American Jews who are pro-Israel.

But with the likes of Lapid, Barak, Olmert, Ya’alon and their many partners demonizing the government and calling for American Jews, Democrat and Republican lawmakers and the Biden administration to boycott the government, Biden’s effective declaration of Netanyahu persona non grata last month went over with barely a word of protest among American Jewish leaders. He was applauded by Israeli leaders.

In this week’s “Caroline Glick Show,” Tony Badran from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies explained that Iran’s decision to escalate its aggression against Israel in recent weeks is predicated in part on Biden’s declared shunning of Netanyahu. Biden’s statement was interpreted by Iran as an invitation to attack Israel at will.

Likewise, in recent weeks, the Iranian regime-controlled media have given banner headlines to statements by retired IDF commanders like Barak and Ya’alon and politicians like Lapid declaring that Israel is doomed. And rather than join Netanyahu when he warns Iran not to believe the propaganda, Lapid, Barak, Ya’alon and their elitist comrades blame Netanyahu for failing to protect the country from the forces their insurrection has emboldened.

This week, the son of the former Shah of Iran Reza Pahlavi made a historic visit to Israel. He participated in the official Yom Hashoah ceremony at Yad Vashem. He visited the Western Wall. He went to a desalination plant and spoke of the assistance Israel can offer a post-ayatollah Iran that will seek to repair the environmental devastation the regime has inflicted on the land.

Rather than praise Netanyahu and Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel who hosted Pahlavi, leftist commentators attacked them and Pahlavi. Former ambassador Daniel (“Danny”) Shek panned Pahlavi and Netanyahu for hosting him. In an interview on i24 News, Shek said the son of the former monarch “is not a force to be reckoned with” and that “Israel has nothing to gain from him.” Parroting Iranian regime propaganda, Shek insisted that no one in Iran supports Pahlavi.

Maariv columnist Yossi Melman attacked the government even more forcefully calling it “stupid” for hosting Pahlavi and inviting him to attend the Yad Vashem ceremony. Parroting the pro-Iran anti-Israel lobby in Washington, Melman wrote, “It’s counter-productive to topple the terrible regime.”

Why? Because.

Other members in good standing of the Clinton’s “pro-peace” Ashkenazi, sabra, Likud-bashing club joined the chorus of elitists standing with the Iranian regime and pillorying Netanyahu for hosting Pahlavi and Pahlavi for not hating Israel and Netanyahu.

With our ruling class in full revolt, Israel’s most important institutions—first and foremost, the IDF—are reeling. Our ability to defend ourselves on the battlefield and in diplomatic circles is constrained as never before. With our elites declaring our government illegitimate, and lobbying American Jews and politicians to boycott our leaders and reject the morality of the public that voted them into office, the government must fight against our enemies, against anti-Semitism, against BDS campaigns and anti-Israel propaganda machines with both hands tied behind its back, its mouth gagged while hopping on one foot. This situation is unsustainable.

As we approach Remembrance Day for Fallen IDF Soldiers and our 75th Independence Day next week, we must find a way to restore sanity and a sense of common destiny to our national life. We don’t have a spare country. Our ruling class needs to return to its senses and remember this obvious fact.

Caroline B. Glick is the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate and the host of the Caroline Glick Show on JNS. Glick is also the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14 as well as a columnist at Newsweek. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a lecturer at Israel’s College of Statesmanship.

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