In recent weeks there has been a lot of talk about a coup in Israel, a coup in the legal system, a military coup or a media coup. A possible coup is attributed to all, left and right, secular or religious Jews. The protesters against judicial reform are now accusing the national-religious government coalition of carrying out a legal coup. According to various surveys, a majority of Israelis oppose the current plan for the proposed form Supreme Court changes. These days, people are sensing a possible coup by the right-wing religious government under Benjamin Netanyahu.
The same Israelis also fear a theocratic military dictatorship. Is a military coup real? Could Israel become a theocratic military dictatorship? This is what the Israeli writer Zvika Amit presented years ago in his bestseller The Blue Code. The description of a military coup in which far-right settlers took over the State of Israel made many Israelis shudder. However, most Israelis believe that despite the dangerous phenomena described, there is little chance the Jewish state will cease to be the Middle East’s only true democracy.
At the same time, the right-wing and religious Jews are also afraid of a putsch. They claimed that a judicial coup by the left-wing Supreme Court in Jerusalem had been going on for decades.
There is also a media coup because the media is leftist. And they are leading another coup, the LGBT movement’s gender coup. There is an academic coup by Israeli professors who support a boycott of Israel and Israeli academia. There is a nationalist putsch by Arab members of the Knesset. Settlers and rabbis accuse the left of a military coup.
Rabbis see the integration of women in combat units as a kind of military coup. They are against it for religious reasons and explain that this causes both operational damage to the units and serious physical damage to the soldiers. “Unfortunately, the Left sect is conducting a military coup against the country’s citizens, state institutions and security forces and their elected representatives,” wrote Rabbi Moshe Hasdai. For him and the religious community in Israel, a left-wing underground is pushing for a military coup in the country. “A political cultural coup against the ruling leadership in the country, which is right-wing. Not under the existing rules for regime change, but still without a radical change in regime type.”
The Israel Defense Forces is a mixed-race army consisting of Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians. And Israel’s general staff has preserved this pattern of diversity in the ranks of the soldiers since the founding of the State of Israel. Because of this, religious Jewish officers rarely rise to the rank of general. This is not discussed publicly, but yes, there is a growing sense that the rabbis are seeking greater influence in the Israeli army. And this is curbed at the top of the military. For this reason, rabbis regard the behavior of the Israeli army leadership as a coup.
I want to believe that no military coup is possible in Israel for the simple reason that Israel is more of an army having a country than a country having an army. Recruitment and Israeli conscription is like a bar mitzvah of Israeli identity. Anyone who doesn’t step forward isn’t really an Israeli. The Israeli army is the only institution in the nation where all people feel truly united, and that must be preserved.
We, the people, are the army. And this is expressed in a number of scenarios. For example in the war in the Gaza Strip. For weeks rockets were fired at Israel and all the IDF achieved was a stalemate between the Israeli elephant and the Gaza gnat. And yet, in all surveys, the confidence of Israeli society has increased. There is no body as popular as the Israeli army. The army is us, the people. We all make our experiences, and every generation experiences something new.
Another case. Years ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his chief of staff at the time, Gabi Ashkenazy, and then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan to prepare Israel’s forces for an airstrike on the Iranian reactor. But both refused his order. Dagan admitted this at the time. Neither of them was sacked or put in front of a firing squad. This is just one example of many in Israel’s military history. So what are we? A country that has an army or an army that has a country? In Israel there is always the fear of a possible putsch, whether this is real or not is another topic. Even now, during a crisis in Israeli society, I maintain my belief that dialogue between all sides will resolve disagreements over judicial reform.
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