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Martin Sherman

Into The Fray: A sense of betrayal

Past deeds of heroism are no justification for present acts of subversion

Thy destroyers and thy demolishers shall emerge from within thee. – Isaiah 49:17

A situation has been created with centers of power with authority without responsibility…this is not democratic…the Supreme Court is one of those centers Lt-Gen (res.) Moshe “Bogey” Yaalon, in an address to “Jewish Leadership” faction in Likud, 19 August, 2009.

 The Supreme Court… is the only barrier against regime tyranny and dictatorship—Lt-Gen (res.) Moshe “Bogey” Yaalon, Maariv, 14, February, 2023.

I write these lines with a heavy heart, with a profound sense of sadness, and after much soul-searching, however, I feel that I have no alternative but to convey the sense of anguish that I feel.

During operations in enemy territories—at times completely alone—I found myself, not infrequently, in high-risk situations. These were dangers that I accepted unreservedly because I believed wholeheartedly in the necessity of the missions, and in the commanders who assigned them to me. I never had any shadow of doubt as to their commitment to the Zionist enterprise or their devotion to the national security of Israel and to the personal security of Israelis.  It was crystal clear to me that their orders were not tainted by any ulterior motives or sectorial bias—but reflected only considerations that impinged on mission success.

Vitriol & Vilification

Accordingly, the recent behavior of many senior members—past and present—of Israel’s security establishment came as a severe shock to me, rocking the very foundation on which I have built my life in this country—which I chose to make my home.

 For example, it was appalling to hear the vitriolic vilification by Maj-Gen (res.) Amiram Levin of the army in which he served for over three decades. According to Levin, “The IDF has begun to be party to war crimes in a profound process reminiscent of processes that took place in Nazi Germany.” It would, of course, be intriguing to discover just how the actions of the IDF today differ substantially from those when Levin served. And if there is no such difference, what do the accusations say about the accuser?

Not less disturbing were the words of scorn and contempt from my former commander, Mossad director Shabtai Shavit, leveled at over half the nation, to whose defense he devoted almost his entire adult life. According to Shavit, the political preferences of the majority of the Israeli public prove that: “we have a people with no moral backbone“.

Lamentably, Shavit, found it necessary to affix his signature to a letter, endorsed by an array of other former senior security personnel—including several forced to resign under a cloud of disgrace—that supported the dereliction of duty by IDF reservists—allegedly in the “defense of democracy”—despite the fact that the measure was patently intended to bolster the ruling oligarchy.

Concocting motives

Again, it would be intriguing to know if those former security experts were actually alive to just how ludicrous the text, to which they attached their signature, actually was. It read: “The legislative process [promoting judicial reform] violates the social contract, that has existed for the last 75 years between the Government of Israel and the thousands of reserve officers and soldiers in the armed forces on land, in the air, in the sea, and in the intelligence services, who volunteered for many years of reserve duty to defend a democratic State of Israel“.

Yeah, right! As if what motivated IDF soldiers in the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s, and the 1980s was the knowledge that High Court justices had a vital role to play in determining their successors, and that it was imperative that unelected bureaucrats—appointed legal counselors—had the authority to void decisions of elected governments.

After all, who could doubt that without being secure in the inviolability of those building blocks of the regime (which, by the way, did not even exist back then!!):

  • IAF pilots would not have taken off to attack enemy airfields in Sinai;
  • IDF troops would not have stormed fortified Syrian positions on the Golan;
  • Israel’s wildly outnumbered armored units would not have valiantly thwarted the Syrian advance into the North of the country;
  • Agents of the Mossad and the General Security Service would not have risked their lives to uncover enemy secrets and defend those of Israel.

Adopting a puerile attitude of “Look what you made me do!” they accuse the Netanyahu-led government of: “crushing the common foundation of Israeli society, ripping the nation apart, dismantling the IDF, and inflicting a mortal blow on Israel’s security“.

Past heroism does not justify present subversion

In fact, precisely the opposite is true!

Those who purposely inflict grave damage on Israel, its security, its economy, and its international standing are none other than those who refuse to accept the voters’ verdict. It is none other than those, who under the thin and tattered guise of “patriotism” and “commitment to democratic values” call for the abandonment of vital positions in the national security system, for deliberately inflicting harm on the economy, and for an international boycott of the country’s elected leaders.

There is no disputing that many of the former senior security experts, who oppose the current government, have played an important role in molding the history of the State of Israel. But their illustrious past does not confer ownership of the state on them, nor grant them the right to veto policy decisions of elected governments. Their expertise in security does not provide them with special expertise in governance. Certainly, their past heroism does not justify their present subversive incitement.

So, although once I considered them exemplary figures, worthy of great admiration, today, lamentably, I confess their behavior arouses nothing but a bitter sense of personal betrayal.

DrMartin Sherman spent seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli defense establishment. He is the founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a member of the Habithonistim-Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF) research team, and a participant in the Israel Victory Project

About the Author
Dr. Martin Sherman is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies a member of the research team of the Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF)-Habithonistim, and a participant in the Israel Victory Project. . He served for seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli Defense establishment, and was a ministerial adviser to Yitzhak Shamir's government. Sherman also lectured for 20 years at Tel Aviv University in Political Science, International Relations and Strategic Studies. He holds several university degrees: a B.Sc. (Physics and Geology), an MBA (Finance), and a PhD in political science and international relations. He was the first academic director of the internationally renowned Herzliya Conference and is the author of two books, as well as numerous articles and policy papers on a wide range of political, diplomatic and security issues. Sherman was born in South Africa and has lived in Israel since 1971.
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