Former prime minister and defense minister until recently warned of the growing extremism, and the deputy chief of staff is reminiscent of Germany from the time of fascism when it comes to extremism in Israel
Originally appeared at Politika, translated by A. Djurich/А. Ђурић exclusively for SouthFront
It can not be remember that the generals at the head of the government and the Ministry of Defense and the heads of intelligence have ever been so concerned about the future of Israel. But, unlike the time when the war was waged against the Arabs, now they claim that the threat comes from within, from the extreme right-wingers who lead the country.
Labourist Ehud Barak, a former prime minister, former defense minister and one of the most decorated soldier in the history of the country, warned that „dangerous elements” took the Israeli government and that they are coming in form of extreme right-wing politicians.
Few days earlier, Defense Minister Moshe Jalon, right-wing Likud member, resigned in protest at the “extremism”, which encompasses the state and the “loss of moral compass” on the key issues of Israeli society.
He resigned also in solidarity with Major General Jairo Golan, Deputy Chief of Staff, who said that Israel in 2016 “reveals the same signs” that existed in Germany during the thirties of the last century – and he said that precisely on the day of remembrance of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
This very rare criticism from active generals and more than sensitive comparison with the times of fascism suggest deep divisions in Israeli society, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu persistently leads increasingly to the right-wing side, while his attitude toward the Palestinians leads the society which he leads since 2009 in a moral crisis.
Netanyahu responds as expected. In order to consolidate a five-member coalition gathered around his Likud party, the prime minister is setting up a government that will, by its orientation, overcome all the right-wing governments in Israel’s history. In exchange for the six deputies that he brings, department of defense has been offered to the leader of the extreme nationalist party of Jewish settlers of the West Bank – Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel our home) Avigdor Lieberman.
Lieberman, a former foreign minister, is, in all ways, Netanyahu’s biggest rival. Only the Prime Minister knows why he turned Jalon from a friend to an enemy and why now he takes the verified enemy, which will certainly not hesitate to stick a knife in hes back at the first opportunity.
What is more dangerous is that Liberman will manage the most explosive sector for the Middle East and also will manage civil affairs in the West Bank. This Jew originating in Moldova is undoubtedly a colorful figure, but many fear – even dangerously polarizing. Liberman defiantly lives in the illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
He proposed a ban on Palestinians to commemorate the “Nakba” – the catastrophe – when they lost their land in 1948 and is known as a sworn opponent of any negotiations with the Palestinians.
They criticize him for discriminatory even “racist” attitude toward Israeli Arabs, from which he required to sign an oath of loyalty to Israel or lose the right to vote. When in March 2015 he publicly sought to cut off the heads of “underhand” Palestinian citizens of Israel, they compared him with the Islamic State.
Yuval Diskin, the former head of Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet, in the newspaper “Yediot Aharonot” writes that Liberman’s appointment may mark the “beginning of the end” of the state of Israel, because it will encourage Jewish fundamentalists, and entrust the defense of the country to “faltering prime minister and inexperienced minister of defense”.
In order to calm things down, Netanyahu said that the new cabinet will “strive for a political settlement” with the Palestinians, but that has not eliminated the fear that Israel will be even more extreme, more distant from democracy, liberalism, human rights and mutual understanding with the Palestinians who want a state in the occupied territory. “This government should fall before it falls on us all. There are no serious leaders in the world who believe the Israeli government”, said Barak, revealing the deep fault line of the Israeli politics, society, and now even the Army frustration. “Manifestations of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society threaten his power and are infiltrating into the Israeli army”, said Jalon, while resigning. “Unfortunately, important politicians in the country have chosen to promote and divide the Israeli society rather than unite it”.
Jalon, not mentioning the name of Netanyahu, accused Prime Minister for enabling the “evil spirits” to spread across country, that its incendiary policy is encouraging internal division and that he destroys the image of Israel as a democratic state all over the world.
The inevitable break-up was announced back in the case of the Israeli army sergeant who has shot in the head peaceful wounded Palestinians who was on the ground in front of him. Jalon was horrified. Netanyahu, in solidarity, called the sergeant’s father.
Then came the new clash between Prime Minister and Minister of Defence regarding the statement of General Golan. Netanyahu said that the comparison with the times of the Nazis is “shameful”. Jalon sided with his generals, expressing “full confidence” in the officers who offer “moral compass” for society.
Warnings of Ehud Barak, Moshe Jalon, Yair Golan, or Juva Diskina are last in a series which confirm the growing public concern about democratic Israel. “Even Rambo is scared of where Netanyahu is going”, comments the liberal “Haaretz”.
It is certain that the arrival of Lieberman not only suggests intensifying internal struggle for the “soul of Israel” but is further threatens to destroy the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” in a time when there is no peace and no process.