The Remembrance Day speech by Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan did not compare current Israel to the Nazis nor did his comments, in any way, seek to ‘delegitimize’ Israel. As expected, Netanyahu waited to see to whom he should pander most while his irresponsible and unstable hard Right government continues its deeply dangerous political denialism.
But Golan’s warning to Israel — to Jews inside and outside of Israel — “…against growing callousness and indifference toward those outside of mainstream Israeli society” is ignored only to Israel’s own future risk. The General also has nothing to apologize for and that he ‘walked back’ his comments does not remotely change the importance and principle relevance of those comments.
The words spoken by Golan in his powerful speech also apply well beyond the current mutually destructive relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. The reference is also very much relevant to and ranges from the deeply shameful and counterproductive behavior by the Israeli government to Ethiopian Jews and Bedouins to the extremes of demonization of fellow Jews by Israel’s hard Right settlement movements, Haredi factions and that same hard Right Israeli government.
As an active duty career senior command military officer whose goal and job is to end war to his nation’s benefit rather than indefinitely extend war, Golan’s perspective should be acknowledged and respected; it should be honestly discussed and debated. Sadly, and once again, an honest discussion about Israel’s future will not happen.
Golan’s words and observations reflect a remarkable prescience and took tremendous political courage to share. But as a career soldier living in an active war zone, his courage and devotion to Israel is without question. Those whose courage, honesty and vision for Israel’s future should, instead, be sharply questioned includes the PM and his deeply flawed coalition along with their most ardent sponsors and supporters.
The only nation truly with the power to compromise, undermine and place at risk the future of the State of Israel is Israel itself. And as this most recent example shows yet again, it is the self-worshipping, spineless and, of particular importance, visionless power politics of Israel’s hard Right which poses the most significant and immediate danger to the future of Israel and Israel’s citizens.