On Holocaust Memorial Day, Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, deputy chief-of-staff of the Israeli army, said that “if there is one thing which frightens me in remembering the Holocaust, it is the identification of the chilling processes that took place in Europe, particularly in Germany 70, 80 and 90 years ago, and finding evidence that they are taking place amongst us, here, today, in 2016.”
This statement, and the support Golan received from Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon, has not only led to the resignation of the latter, it started an anti-government campaign in which leading journalists are now openly advocating a coups d’état.
Peddling this idea are Nahum Barnea from the daily Yediot Aharonot and Zvi Bar’el from the daily Haaretz. Not surprisingly, those toying with this dangerous notion are leftists who cry endlessly about the dangers Israeli democracy faces from some vague “chilling processes” emanating from the Right.
Ending democracy in order to save it is the logic behind this new fantasy.
Interesting in this latest outcry is how, in a blink of an eye, the IDF that to date was treated by many leftists as criminal tool in the hands of the “occupation,” has become the darling of the Left by those perceiving that the deputy chief-of-staff has landed squarely in their camp.
First to suggest that the cue for revolution had been given was Zvi Bar’el in his article “Toward Revolutionizing the Army” published earlier this month.
Different in meaning as they are, the Hebrew words for “revolution” and “coup” are almost identical, and Bar’el’s clever use of them did not escape keen eyes. Bar’el understands well that he is losing his ideological battle against the (fascist) right. “This [fascist] deterioration must be stopped,” he says, but how? Since democracy can’t stop the majority of Israelis from becoming more traditionalists, it is the job of the army to put an end to it.
“To start a revolution the army doesn’t need to storm the Knesset, the Prime Minister’s office or the TV stations,” writes Bar’el. “The army … will have to decide what constitutes the ultimate threat on Israel’s security and existence.” And the ultimate threat, according to Bar’el, is not Iran and her anti-Semitic proxies, nor is it the Palestinians’ many actions aimed at wiping Israel off the map. Israel’s biggest threat is Netanyahu, who under no circumstances will accept Haaretz’s vision, which is not all that different from that of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
According to this interesting view of guarding democracy, the General Staff’s responsibility is to rebel against an elected government and install in its place a party to the liking of Bar’el, such as Meretz, which at best represents a mere six percent of Israel’s voting constituency.
Having said that the army will have to decide when to revolt against an elected government, Bar’el contradicts himself and says that “revolution or military coup is the end of all democracy.” One could speculate that Bar’el wrote this sentence to escape being charged with incitement to mutiny, which could earn him five years in prison.
Taking courage from the lack of any judicial challenge to Bar’el’s call for mutiny, two day later Nahum Barnea wrote his piece “Atonement Rooster”, which suggests a soft kind of coup that does not involve tanks and guns and dead bodies on the streets. Instead of violence, Barnea envisions a process of selection in which only officers sharing his worldview would be qualified for top brass positions. Barnea’s biggest fear is neither Left nor Right. Rather, he is most afraid of God, or, more precisely, of God-fearing Jews.
Barnea was horrified by Givati battalion commander Col. Ofer Winter daring to encourage his soldiers with words of faith before entering battle in the Gaza war of 2014. “Winter got confused,” writes Barnea. “He didn’t understand who sent him on his mission and from whom he takes orders.” Fearing God-fearing Jewish soldiers who from time immemorial have sought God’s help before entering battle, Barnea wants to ban them from reaching the top.
Trembling profusely at the thought that “ten years from now all the faces of the General Staff will be like that of Winter,” Barnea suggests taking now some “preventive measures” guaranteeing that Israel appoint generals according to partisan lines.
Joseph Stalin learned the hard way how disastrous it is for commissars to command an army. But Barnea’s fear of God is great enough to justify the risk of a General Staff filled with second choices.
Barnea, and those still dwelling in Left-land, have given up hope of being reelected. “The Left is no longer active; maybe even dead,” laments Barnea, which is why “it has no choice but laying its distresses on the IDF’s generals.”
Bar’el and Barnea are fantasizing. Their fear of God has become so acute that they now seek refuge in their adversary’s camp. Yet, the thought of the IDF being the savior of the Left is as realistic as expecting Barnea to put his trust in Israel’s savior.
PHOTO: Leftists demonstrate in Tel Aviv against Israel’s elected government. (Flash90)