by Ludwig Watzal
Former Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak, who quit politics some years ago, criticized the appointment of Avigdor Liberman as Minister of Defense by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Tzipi Livni, a former Foreign Minister under Ehud Olmert during the massacre in the Gaza Strip in 2008/09 called this political maneuver a national „crisis of ethics“. During the Gaza massacre, Barak was Israel’s Defense Minister. Both should have held accountable for war crimes because over 1400 people were killed, many of them women and children. The Goldstone Report was crystal clear in holding Israel liable for severe human rights violations and war crimes. Not only Barak diagnosed Israel’s turn towards fascism, but also the deputy chief of staff, Yair Golan, had the same to say in a speech that he delivered on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon defended his General against Netanyahu. This might have been the final straw, which caused his resignation.
Barak was talking about Zionism as if it is life-saving ideology: “ Life-affirming Zionism and seeds of fascism cannot exist together.“ Barak knows that the Revisionists were great admirers of Italian Fascism. The Likud Party represents this spiritual heritage. Barak called the removal of Ya’alon a political „purge“ hinting at the elimination of opponents under Stalin in the Soviet Union. Barak defended further Ya’alon by saying that he defended the “hostile takeover of Israel’s leadership by [those] who are strangers to the spirit of the State of Israel and to the spirit of the IDF”. Liberman’s appointment was „wrong and disgraceful“.
Ya’alon was replaced by one of the most extreme politicians in Israel: Avigdor Liberman. The rift between Ya’alon and Netanyahu seems irreconcilable. Right from the start, Ya’alon supported the IDF prosecutors who charged Elor Azaray with the murder that caused an outcry in Israel. A right-wing crowd proclaimed Azaray „King of Israel“. Netanyahu distanced himself from Ya’alon. Azaray executed a helpless heavily wounded Palestinian in cold blood at point-blank range. The murder charges were downgraded to manslaughter. The other incident that made Netanyahu furious was Ya’alon’s defense of the deputy chief staff Yair Golan for his courageous speech in which he mentioned similarities between the rise of fascism in the 1930s in Germany and Israel. Ya’alon encouraged his generals to speak out on moral issues.
Although Ya’alon is a member of the right-wing Likud Party, he still has kept his liberal viewpoints. In his resignation speech in Tel Aviv he expresses his deep concern about Israeli society. „Extremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud movement and are destabilizing our home and threatening to harm its inhabitants.” At the beginning of his harsh verdict of Netanyahu, he stressed the harmonious cooperation with Netanyahu, especially during of „Operation Protective Edge“ in which the Israeli army massacred over 2100 Palestinians, many of them women and children.
After this kind words, Ya’alon gave a startling analysis of Israeli society in general and on the current government in particular. To his regret, Ya’alon found himself „in deep disagreement over professional and ethical issues with the prime minister, a number of ministers and a few members of Knesset“. „I have fought with all my strength against radicalization, violence and racism in Israeli society, which threatens its resilience and percolates also into the IDF, already causing it harm.” He also resisted the attacks on the Supreme Court and Israeli judges by members of the Netanyahu cabinet. Both will cause great damage to the rule of law and could have disastrous consequences for Israel.
Ya’alon thinks that Israel is a „healthy society“ and the majority is sane and seeks a „Jewish, democratic and state“ that accepts each person as a person. Israel has the duty to protect and embrace minorities and not to „incite“ against them. „But to my great regret, extremist, and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud movement and are destabilizing our home and threatening to harm its inhabitants.“
He fears a division among Israelis caused by „cynicism and lust for power“ that could be critical for the country and future generations. And he continued saying: „I do not regret whatsoever thesis professional and ethical views, even if they have led to the end of my time as defense minister. I am comfortable with my path and will not turn away from it. I am afraid for Israel’s future, and will continue in this struggle going forward because We have no other country. “ He has lost faith in Netanyahu. And Ya’alon exposed the moral bareness of Netanyahu to the whole world.
Avigdor Liberman is not a military man. He has no credentials whatsoever. As a former bouncer, he behaves like a Rambo and shoots from the hip. For years, he has been calling for the expulsion of Palestinians. Palestinians who are disloyal to Israel should have their heads chopped off. „Anyone who’s with us should be given everything – up to half the kingdom. Anyone who’s against us, there’s nothing to do – we should raise an ax and cut off his head; otherwise, we will not survive here.“ Years ago, he called for the bombing of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt.
Netanyahu has chosen the most unpredictable, unreliable and dangerous man for the most crucial and sensitive position. It’s easy to predict that the Israeli security establishment and especially the military will not accept Liberman as their commander-in-chief. Amir Peretz, the dovish ex-Labor Party leader who was also a non-General defense minister failed miserably after few month. The self-proclaimed „most moral army in the world“ could not have gotten a better man at the helm than Liberman. He will be the guy who is going to expose this fantasy as a myth. And Barak warned the Israel public that a government with Liberman and without Ya‘alon “must fall before it topples us all”.