IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi apologized Sunday evening after he had been quoted as saying that “a safe dictatorship is preferable to unprotected anarchy.”
"I said a sentence that I should not have said and that does not reflect my worldview at all,” he said speaking at a ceremony at Tel Aviv University honoring reservists who participated in Operation Breakwater — Israel’s months-long counterterrorism operation in the West Bank.
The military chief referred to a quote carried by journalist Nahum Barnea in Ynet’s sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth over the weekend.
“I am an optimistic person by nature. But let's go for the worst scenario: a dictatorship is formed. Even so, I stay here and try to change. We must not saw off the branch we are all sitting on. A secure dictatorship is preferable to unprotected anarchy," Halevi was quoted by Barnea as saying.
The report caused a stir which prompted him to apologize to the crowd in attendance.
"In recent days, I have talked and held meetings with hundreds of reserve commanders from all branches and wings of the IDF, I listened to their sentiments, the different opinions and perceptions,” he said.
“The uniqueness and complexity of our days, days of controversy in Israeli society, found expression in their words. I expressed my great appreciation and the full support I give to their work and my opposition to the statements that condemned the names of some of the servants,” he added, referring to lawmakers who bashed reservists who opted to ditch voluntary military service in a sign of protest of the government’s judicial overhaul push.
“’In this scalding country, words should shade,’ wrote Yehuda Amichai and in these complex days - that's how we should use them. Consider them carefully, to be clear and unambiguous, to ensure that our words do not inflame further divisions in Israeli society,” he continued.
"In one of these conversations, a reference was made regarding the extreme point to which the dispute could develop. I replied with a moral answer about our duty to protect, about the fact that I will always remain in this country and added a sentence that I should not have said and that does not reflect my worldview at all. I want to use the opportunity to qualify my statements."
"The IDF will not be able to act if the nation disintegrates. The IDF will not be able to operate without the spirit of volunteerism of the reserve officers and their readiness which depends on the preservation of the IDF as the people's army in a democratic Jewish state.”