Sunday, 8 May 2016

Israeli democracy

They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly. (Amos, 5,10)

Israel’s deputy Chief of Staff, Major-General Ya’ir Golan, in his address at the memorial service for Holocaust Day, last week said:  

“ If there is something that frightens me about the memory of the Holocaust, it is seeing the abhorrent processes that took place in Europe, and Germany in particular, some 70, 80 or 90 years ago, and finding manifestations of these processes here among us in 2016,… there is nothing easier than to simply hate the other, there is nothing easier than to provoke fears and strike terror; there is nothing easier than barbaric behaviour, moral corruption and hypocrisy.” Adding, “On Holocaust Remembrance day, it is appropriate to discuss our abilities to extricate from among us signs of intolerance and violence, signs that we're heading towards self destruction and down the road to moral depravity. In fact, Holocaust Remembrance Day is an opportunity for self-examination.”

Ever since, General Golan has been under attack from the right-wing political class (to call them elite would be a contradiction in terms), from the gutters - sadly well represented in Israel’ government and parliament - right up to prime minister Bibi Netanyahu who called the comments outrageous, saying at his weekly Cabinet meeting that "they cause harm to Israel and cheapen the Holocaust." Look who is f*** talking.

Maybe a serving general should not be talking about issues, which can be seen as political by some – but Golan – who is one of the two contenders to become Israel’s next chief of staff – was evidently willing to give up his career chances because of his deep worries as to what is happening in Israel.
But, of course,  They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.

I do not know how long Israel will last or whether it will ever become the secular democracy it was originally established to become – but Yai’r Golan will be remembered as one of the very few moral lighthouses shining his warning words in an attempt to prevent a total shipwreck.


  1. Good post on Golan, David; not something I'd read about elsewhere nor would be likely to. So thanks.

  2. One wonders, of course, what prompted General Golan to make these
    pronouncements. To equate Israel`s stance against the likes of Hamas
    and Hizbollah with the Holocaust is so obviously erroneous -
    Netanyahu`s describing this as "cheapening the Holocaust" must be the
    understatement of the year! - that Golan may in reality be motivated
    by looking for a job beyond the military, i.e. in the higher echelons
    of politics. It is hard to think of any other explanation.

  3. The following day Golan issued a statement saying that he had been misunderstood by his critics and dismissed any suggestion he had compared Israeli society with Nazi Germany - really?

    He is reported as saying: " It is an absurd and baseless comparison and I had no intention whatsoever to draw any parallel or to criticise the national leadership. The IDF is a moral army that respects the rules of engagement and protects human dignity".

    Alex is right. It is hard to think of any other explanation for his incredible and distasteful remarks.

    A recent report forwarded to Washington by retired US Generals highlighted the extraordinary lengths that the IDF went to in the 2014 Gaza war (Protective Edge)to avoid civilian casualties. The report noted that the IDF took a higher level of casualties in its own ranks as a result and could not recommend to Washington that the US army adopt such a high level of risk to its own forces.

    Golan was way off-base both literally and figuratively.

    I can well understand why so many in Israel and elsewhere were offended by his initial remarks.