Skip to main content

Israeli officials, diplomats free to speak Netanyahu's mind

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israeli military officers can express themselves ''in the relevant forums,'' it seems he was really saying that senior officials should not express any opinion that contradicts his own.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) sits next to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman after delivering a statement in Jerusalem November 21, 2012. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo - RTSEZH2
Read in 

“I call on you and your subordinates, once again, to keep speaking your minds,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon demanded of the army’s officers in a speech he delivered at a May 15 reception marking Independence Day. "Be brave, not only on the battlefield, but also at the discussion table,” the minister urged them, speaking in front of the cameras. Ya'alon was not suggesting and not asking. He was demanding. To allay any doubts, Ya'alon added that the men in uniform should speak their minds, saying, "Do so even if your comments are not part of the mainstream, and even if they stand in contrast with the ideas adopted by the senior command, or the government."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, argued that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) “is the people's army and needs to be kept away from political divisions." Netanyahu’s response to Ya'alon was clearly directed also at Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, who said in a May 4 speech on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day that he sees "revolting" trends in Israel reminiscent of "the abhorrent processes that took place in Europe, and Germany in particular, some 70, 80 or 90 years ago."

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.