Suspending reserve duty isn't mutiny, it's patriotism at its finest

Opinion: The battle for Israel's character and values rages on, and in order to prevent the slide towards a hollow democracy led by a government tainted with racism, misogyny, and criminal entanglements, it is imperative that we take this necessary step

Yuval Diskin|
My friends, fellow activists, in these unprecedented times, extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary actions. Allow me to share my personal journey and explain why this cliché holds truer now than ever before. The most pivotal decisions I have made in my life were shaped by the principles instilled in me by my upbringing in this country and the values imparted through education, both from my parents and within the youth movement.
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The embodiment of these ideals was evident within my own family. My late father, Avraham Diskin, volunteered for the British Army, combating the Nazis and sustaining severe injuries during the Italian bombing in the Western Desert. Similarly, my late brother, Doron Diskin, served as a reservist in the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War, enduring a profound injury that significantly impacted his life's trajectory. Despite this adversity, he chose to continue his service in the reserves, participating in the First Lebanon War and later stationed in outposts within the security zone.
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אילוס חיילים מילואים מילואימניקים
אילוס חיילים מילואים מילואימניקים
IDF reservists
(Photo: shutterstock)
My choices were also influenced by the long-standing leaders who have governed our nation. Despite occasional strategic missteps, they ingrained in me the conviction that the welfare of our country always remains the focal point of their concerns. Fueled by this ethos, I made the conscious decision to volunteer for an elite unit within the IDF and later joined the ranks of the Shin Bet. The values, education, and individuals mentioned have accompanied and guided me throughout my tenure in the security establishment, shaping the countless command decisions I have made.
Allow me, if I may, to expand on this ethos I speak of. It is the one I was raised with, and it revolved around the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic nation, with its foundational document being the Declaration of Independence. It is the national homeland of the Jewish people who endured centuries of persecution in exile and faced the horrific extermination during the Holocaust.
This ethos emphasized a country that defied all odds, engaged in constant battles against its adversaries, yet remained committed to pursuing peace with its neighbors from its very inception. It highlighted Israel's greatest strength compared to Egypt: its status as a democratic, egalitarian, and morally upright society, with a legal system that even its foes admire. I believe that most of us, particularly my generation, were instilled with a similar ethos as we came of age.
Alas, as the years progresses, this narrative began showing some cracks and crevices. Life, as I discovered, is far more intricate than I once believed. I have witnessed the corrupting and destructive nature of occupying another people, understanding that even in victory, wars leave scars on both sides. Perhaps even more disheartening, I have seen leaders prioritize their own interests over the welfare of the public.
Despite these disillusionments, fragments of the ethos I held onto remained clear, not only for me but for many of us. We are a democratic and Jewish nation, guided by the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence. We strive for complete equality, fostering the growth and prosperity of our nation for all citizens regardless of their religion, race, or gender. Ours is a true democracy, with a system of checks and balances, where the rule of law serves as our guiding light, and the independence of the judiciary stands as a firm foundation.
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בנימין נתניהו
בנימין נתניהו
Coalition taking Israel down a dangerous path
(Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
In 2018, the cracks in this foundation deepened with the enactment of the "Basic Law - Israel the Nation State of the Jewish People." While it was technically approved by the High Court of Justice, in my perspective, it marked the beginning of a bleak era. The recent discussion on the "Zionism decision" further exemplifies this shift, as it proposes that ministers must prioritize the values derived from the nationality law in their decision-making process. In essence, this translates to favoring one segment of society over others, which in my view can mean one thing and one thing only, and that's discrimination. No doubt.
The advent of Netanyahu's current coalition has brought forth a paradoxical situation. While it may be legally established, it lacks legitimacy due to its composition, actions, and the values it upholds. The government aggressively and persistently strives to reshape the country and its democratic system without seeking broad national consensus. Its efforts aim to alter the very ethos upon which our upbringing and the foundation of the nation were built. In various ways, it seeks to transform our multifaceted democracy into a simplistic, one-dimensional entity, devoid of its founding spirit.
Should we fail to act swiftly, using every legal and legitimate democratic means available to us, and with utmost determination (while strictly rejecting any form of violence) - we risk the rapid transformation of our democracy into a hollow shell. In this ghost democracy, fundamental human and civil rights will lack genuine protection, minority rights will be disregarded, and the tyranny of the majority will prevail. How might this occur? If the authority of the Attorney General weakens and the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, loses its ability to effectively oversee other branches of government, we will descend precipitously into the abyss of autocracy.
The proposed amendment to the reasonableness principle, expected to undergo a second and third reading in the current Knesset session ending in July 2023, represents a significant stride towards that perilous abyss. What does this amendment entail? In legal terms, it establishes an absolute prohibition on challenging the government's failure to act in the best interest of the public. It effectively precludes any relief or even discussion of such a claim. Put simply, this sweeping denial of justice, in matters pertaining to the government and its ministers, constitutes a grave violation of core democratic principles, particularly the principles of separation of powers and the rule of law.
The primary objectives of this law are to enable the government to appoint MK Aryeh Deri as a minister despite his criminal record, to dismiss gatekeepers from their roles, particularly Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and legal advisors in government ministries, and to replace them with yes-men who will prioritize the narrow interests of the coalition and the appointing minister over the public interest. Such actions would signify the demise of the rule of law in Israel.
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גלי בהרב מיארה מצביעה בבחירות ללשכת עורכי הדין בבית ציוני אמריקה בתל אביב
גלי בהרב מיארה מצביעה בבחירות ללשכת עורכי הדין בבית ציוני אמריקה בתל אביב
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara
(Photo: Dana Koppel)
The battle for the image of the State of Israel and the fundamental principles of democracy is not a distant future conflict, but one that is happening in the present moment. It doesn't require great foresight to grasp the implications of such a profound disregard for justice, particularly when it involves a destructive government comprised of individuals like Itamar Ben-Gvir and his faction promoting Jewish supremacy, Bezalel Smotrich advocating for extreme measures such as wiping out Huwara, Avi Maoz from the homophobic and misogynistic Noam party, the convicted criminal Deri and his personal interests influencing decisions behind the scenes, a non-Zionist ultra-orthodox group, and most significantly, a prime minister facing allegations of crimes.

The battle for the preservation of essential democracy is currently underway, and thus the decision to suspend volunteering for the reserves is not a future surprise tactic for the next war, but rather an effective strategy for the ongoing struggle. In this deeply personal and direct message, I address each and every one of you. As someone who has fought alongside many of you, risking my life to protect our beloved country, and as a former head of the Shin Bet who led operations alongside our brave soldiers, I believe the time has come to make the immediate decision to suspend volunteering for the reserves.
This grave threat must be halted immediately, for failure to do so will unleash a torrent of unchecked legislation and irrational rulings. Such a landslide would ultimately lead to the collapse of Jewish and democratic Israel. My fellow patriots, I commend your unwavering commitment and readiness to lay down your lives for our nation's security. Equally significant is the exemplary role you have played, as demonstrated over the past 27 weeks, in preserving our country's image.
יובל דיסקיןYuval Diskin

Volunteering and heroism on the battlefield have safeguarded Israel from its adversaries, but today we face a different kind of battle—one that seeks to undermine the very essence and values of our nation. In this struggle, the burden falls heavily upon the shoulders of our brave fighters. Therefore, suspending volunteering for the reserves is not only the right course of action, but a democratic, legitimate, and dare I say heroic act that must be undertaken without delay to prevent further descent into the abyss. These extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures. The moment is upon us.
Yuval Diskin served as head of the Shin Bet
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