The IDF’s Duty Is to Defend the Jewish State, Not the Politics of Its Loudest Protestors

During the contentious debates this year over the Israeli government’s plan to reform the judicial system, there have been several statements by military reservists that they will refuse to attend their scheduled training sessions in protest. Most notable was a declaration to this effect by a group of elite pilots. Kobi Michael and Gabi Siboni explain why this tactic erodes the health of the Israeli body politic—as well as of the IDF:

The very fact of the threat—and certainly its implementation—nurtured the protest, whereby their actions injected a militaristic dimension to the protest and politicized the military, punctured the confidence that the political echelon and large portions of the Israeli population have in the military, undermined the values of volunteerism and unity within the IDF, and eroded Israel’s image of power and its deterrence. Their actions could lead Israel’s enemies to the false belief that this is an opportune time to strike Israel and to hasten an unwanted war.

The failure of the senior military leadership from the outset to sever the IDF from the protest and from the political realm means that the train has already left the station, creating a much greater problem for the military. [As a result], the IDF has been turned into a political tool and actor, as the culture of refusal to serve (according to the protesters: refusal to volunteer, and not refusal to obey a mobilization order; in our view: a unilateral violation by the reservists of the rules of service they agreed to is a refusal to serve) and media coverage of the phenomenon are viewed as an attempt to frighten the public and the political echelon in order to undermine the ability of the government and the Knesset to continue with the legislative process, to challenge the legitimacy of the government, and even to bring about its downfall.

Anyone who is anxious for the future of Israeli democracy must feel some discomfort when reservists drag the IDF onto the political field and into the heated political and moral debate over the essence of Israeli democracy, and when there are those who want to turn it into the “Democracy Defense Forces.” This is a clear militarization of the political space as much as it is a politicization of the army. Those fearful for the future of Israeli democracy must consider that while today the current protest against the judicial overhaul is led by reservists with a specific ideological outlook, tomorrow could see a protest against the government led by reservists with a very different set of values.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: IDF, Israeli Judicial Reform, Israeli politics, Israeli society

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy