You can protest without comparing the government to the Nazis

Opinion: It's possible to protest against judicial reform and condemn it strongly, but any statement comparing Israel and Germany, or calling it a 'war crime,' is a gift to supporters of the judicial overhaul

Ben-Dror Yemini|
It was anticipated, and it's unfortunate that this is happening: the most justified protest against judicial reform insists on making the most exasperating mistakes. Now it's Amiram Levin's turn, despite all due respect for his rights as a former IDF major general, whose odd speech at a recent demonstration is yet another sign of veering off track. Perhaps he's envious of the wavering glory of Yair Golan, another former IDF general and Knesset member, who even before him made a career out of the ill-advised comparison between Israel and Germany. So, he joins the festival of narratives.
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The government ministers deserve harsh and incisive criticism. They know that each passing day only magnifies the damage unless they grapple with being out of touch with reality. They are aware that history will judge them as culprits in the destruction of self-respect without precedent. But instead of holding them accountable where they bear responsibility, Amiram Levin sails into bizarre and patronizing territory . "There are ministers," he said, "who don't know what democracy is because they grew up in a country without democracy."
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עמירם לוין
עמירם לוין
Amiram Levin speaks at a protest against judicial reform
(Photo: Yair Sagi)
Excuse me? The vast majority of leaders of the Zionist movement hailed from non-democratic lands. Was Poland democratic? Ukraine? Russia? So, what exactly is he talking about? Moreover, any attempt to find among the ministers those who grew up in non-democratic countries would be futile. Who among them is a graduate of North Korea's education system? Nearly all of them grew up and were educated in Israel. But he babbles on.
That wasn't enough for him, so on Sunday, the new star of the protest movement was interviewed on Israel's public broadcaster radio Kan Reshet Bet, where he claimed that "the IDF is becoming a partner in war crimes through deep processes that resemble those that occurred in Nazi Germany."
We have abhorrent phenomena in our midst. However, one can condemn them without immediately leaping to Nazi Germany. Nearly every European country has an extreme right today, some of which are neo-Nazi, without even having any control over the Palestinians. And these movements are no smaller than the extreme right in Israel. There's no need for occupation or terror; for them, it's the immigrants who get on their nerves.
But in certain circles here, there's an excessive tendency to specifically compare Israel to Nazi Germany. This didn't start today. It's doubtful if we've had a single year without these ill-founded comparisons. Even Ze'ev Jabotinsky and later Menachem Begin were accused of Hitlerism, and that unbearable ease of making such comparisons hasn't stopped.
These comparisons bear additional and significant harm. They overlook the fact that the Palestinians are currently governed by a racist and antisemitic regime. They conceal the fact that Hamas calls for the destruction of Jews and that Islamic Jihad is a proxy of Iran, bringing only bloodshed and devastation wherever it's involved. They hide the fact that, among the Palestinians as well as among some Arab leaders in Israel, there's overt and covert support for the murder of Jews by jihadist extremists, who aren't fighting for the end of occupation but for the annihilation of the Jewish state. So, how convenient for the antisemitic campaign to have expressions like those of Amiram Levin, in order to propagate the narrative that the Palestinians, the eternal champions of peace, are victims of the same Nazis they decry.
בן-דרור ימיניBen-Dror YeminiPhoto: Avigail Uzi
These aren't the isolated extremes of the protest. Even the refusal of military service, or as it's being softened, "refusing to volunteer," receives perilous support. The intention is to apply pressure on the government. However, the cost, oh, the cost, is essentially a blow to security. A refusal of service is justified when it involves an outright illegal order. Fighting against unconstitutional directives is necessary, but we're far from outright illegal orders. Without it, the justifiers claim, the government will continue its authoritarian tendencies.
Counterintuitively, the walkout diminishes the broader nature of the protest, which has garnered support from respectable segments of right-wing voters. A decrease in support would be a fatal blow to the protest. Because when the protest stands in a space that includes both Amiram Levin and Yair Golan on one side, and refusal of service on the other, it will cause a triple detriment. It will harm Israel, weaken the protest, and strengthen the right-wing ultra-Orthodox coalition.
The halt of the excessive legislation, the longer it's suspended, acts as a byproduct of the protests in support of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, when masses took to the streets in unprecedented protest. It was an Israeli protest, not a left-wing one. It was the protest that unnerved Benjamin Netanyahu, who eventually retained Yoav Gallant as Defense Minister, despite firing him. In contrast, the strike pushed the hesitant Likud members back into the coalition fold. Expressions like those of Amiram Levin will push them even further.
It's a gift to those who support judicial reform, but it's destructive to the protest.
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