Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been under attack on Thursday by not once but two of his former defense ministers, Moshe Ya'alon and Ehud Barak.
After Ya'alon declared he intends to run for office, criticizing the government's use of scare tactics to "divide and rule," Barak called to oust the current government.
"I call upon the government to come to its senses and get back on track," Barak said at the Herzliya Conference on Thursday evening. "If not, all of us, yes, all of us, must get out of our seats and topple it through civil uprising and the ballot box before it's too late."
Barak, a former IDF chief, defense minister and prime minister, warned of telltale signs of fascism in the government.
"If it looks like the 'beginning of fascism,' walks like the 'beginning of fascism,' and quacks like the 'beginning of fascism,' then it is the 'beginning of fascism,'" he said.
Barak warned of the danger in attacks on democracy, noting there have been attacks on the Supreme Court, the civil society, the freedom of expression, the media's independence, the State Comptroller, the Attorney General, senior officials in the IDF, the Shin Bet and the police, the anti-trust regulator, and others. "And unfortunately even on school principals and educators who demonstrate 'too much independent thought.'"
He listed a series of legislation proposals that he saw as posing a threat to Israeli democracy, including the Suspension Law, the NGO Law, separate transportation for Jews and Arabs in the West Bank, and a bill seeking to apply Israeli law to Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
"Only a man who is blind, pretending innocence or one who has become ideologically defiled can't see the erosion of democracy in all of these bills and the first signs of fascism that have taken hold of this government," he said.
He also noted a series of extreme incidents of violence and incitement that he saw as warning signs, including the murder of 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the murder of the Dawabsheh family in Duma, the Jewish radicals who try to smuggle young goats onto the Temple Mount so they could sacrifice them, the Hebron shooting incident, and posters showing the IDF chief and the defense minister wearing kaffiyahs, among others.
The 'Hitlerization' of every threat
Barak accused Netanyahu of the "Hitlerization of every changing regional threat," naming Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as people Netanyahu has branded as the "Hitlers of our time." Barak said it was this that truly "cheapens the Holocaust."
Barak, who is now out of politics, said Netanyahu's Likud party was been taken over by an "extreme ideology" that instead of pursuing peace with the Palestinians is leading Israel toward a "one-state" reality in which Israel becomes an apartheid-like country or a "binational state" with a Jewish minority.
"Indifferent extremism, hubris and blindness have taken hold of the prime minister and the Israeli government, and in the name of an agenda, theoretically hidden, with a 'touch of messianism,' it is dragging us all into this moral and operational abyss," he continued.
"And how is all of this happening, day after day, in contradiction to national interest, at the expense of all citizens, against even the interest of Likud and right-wing voters," Barak wondered.
“We are being led by a weak prime minister and a weak government,” Barak concluded.
Netanyahu dismissed both Ya'alon and Barak's criticism, saying Barak was someone “who attacks me every month, he’s just trying to remain in the public consciousness.”
The Likud party also rejected the criticism by both former defense ministers as well, saying in a statement that "it appears the Herzliya Conference this evening has turned into the primaries for the party of frustrated candidates who are fighting to become the left-wing's savior."
The Likud statement went on to say that "Those who found themselves out of the political system stood this evening behind any microphone put in front of them and with fiery speeches said the exact opposite of what they said when they were in office—just so they could get a headline in the media and remain in the public consciousness. It's very strange that both praised the prime minister and expressed their complete trust in him when they were serving as ministers. An ideology doesn't change with one's position."
"The left wing is simply unwilling to accept the fact the Likud is the ruling party. To that end, all is fair, including harming Israel's security interests," the Likud party charged. "The government in Israel hasn't been hijacked, it was elected by the people. It's strange that the very people who praise democracy can't understand this."