Many tens of thousands of Israelis who support the government’s judicial reform program on Sunday condemned the refusal of some IDF reservists to report for duty.
The peaceful and socially diverse demonstration outside the Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv, which has been the scene of near-weekly protests against the government for months, was taking place at the same time that protesters against the reform converged outside the Knesset in Jerusalem.
The Tel Aviv rally, which turned the thoroughfare into a sea of blue and white Israeli flags, came amid growing public unease over military reservists’ threat not to report for duty if the first piece of reform legislation, the so-called reasonableness bill, becomes law.
Transport Minister Miri Regev, a reserve brigadier general and a former IDF spokeswoman, said that those who refuse to serve in the reserves should be jailed.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who predicted the bill would pass in the Knesset Monday, said he felt the pain of the opponents of the reform, comparing it to the sadness the right felt over the Oslo Accords three decades ago and the 2005 unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Many of the pro-government protesters at the rally said that the High Court of Justice had become disconnected from the nation and represented the elite alone.
Many in the crowd were cognizant that the rift in the nation was peaking ahead of Tisha B’Av on Wednesday night/Thursday, during the days when Jews mourn the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem along with other calamities in Jewish history.
Earlier Sunday, Israeli security officials came out against the growing threats to refuse to serve.
He said that mixing the military with politics was damaging and dangerous because it signals weakness to Israel’s enemies, harms the military’s operational strength, and sets a harmful and unacceptable precedent whereby anyone who disagrees with a given government policy unilaterally decides he will not serve in the reserve forces.
Some 10,000 reservists from across the military announced Saturday night that they too would stop showing up for duty. More than 100 retired security chiefs publicly supported the growing ranks of military reservists who plan to stop reporting for duty if the reform is advanced.
Kupperwaser added that Israel was not sliding towards the “end of democracy,” as critics argue. He cited the words of President Isaac Herzog before a joint session of Congress last week that democracy was in Israel’s DNA and that the months-long protests were a sign of the vibrancy of democracy in the country.
Klifi also said that the military must remain outside of politics, asking what would happen in the future if the opposing camp refused to evacuate communities in Judea and Samaria.
“These are dangerous cracks,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi wrote in a letter to soldiers Sunday meant to address the tensions. “If we will not be a strong and cohesive military, if the best do not serve in the IDF, we will no longer be able to exist as a country in the region.”
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate