Friday, October 5, 2018

Welcome to the anti-Israeli democracy tour - by Jonathan S. Tobin

Retired Israeli generals deserve respect from Americans. But their efforts to undermine the country’s political consensus do not deserve our applause.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
04 October '18..

In the last year, we’ve heard a lot about the threat to Israeli democracy from critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. According to this narrative—endlessly hyped by Jewish left-wingers and mimicked in mainstream media forums like The New York Times—Netanyahu is subverting the values upon which the country was founded by undermining its Supreme Court, reducing non-Jews to second-class citizens, toadying to haredi political parties and other right-wing allies, and attacking the news media.

If you substitute evangelical Christians for the haredim, the similarities with critiques of the Trump administration are clear. That’s hardly an accident, as some of Netanyahu’s foes believe that his close ties with U.S. President Donald Trump is at the top of the list of their grievances.

But, as is the case in the United States, the talk about democracy is really just code for politics. A good example of this is a group of top retired Israeli generals who are currently on tour in the United States seeking to convince leading Jewish organizations, as well as Congress, to turn their backs on Netanyahu.

The touring veterans are from Commanders for Israel’s Security, a group of retired senior officers at odds with Netanyahu about the peace process and how best to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. They think that Israel must withdraw from the West Bank as soon as possible, and view the Palestinians’ refusal to seriously negotiate or to accept past offers of statehood as irrelevant. They feel that the security consequences of repeating Ariel Sharon’s experiment in Gaza—in which Israel withdrew from territory and then watched helplessly as it was turned into an independent Palestinian terror state—in the larger and more strategic West Bank are not worth worrying about.

(Continue to Full Column)

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