By Moshe Feiglin
Not likely. True, the radical leftist Ha’aretz newspaper explicitly fantasizes about a coup. And until just a short while ago we had a Defense Minister who echoed the Ha’aretz stand and called upon IDF officers to publicly express their disagreement with Israel’sgovernment. But no, it does not seem that a military coup would take place in Israel – simply because, in many ways, the army already rules here.
Israel is an army that has a state, much more than it is a state with an army. Think about it for a moment… What is the first building taken over during a putsch? The radio, of course. As opposed to any other free country, Israel’s army already has its own radio station broadcasting to its citizens. And it is the most popular radio station in the country!
Despite the fact that there are almost no more Arab armies threatening Israel and in the face of the relevant threats all that is needed is an air force, technology and special units – in other words, much less manpower – there is a mandatory draft for all Israeli citizens, they do reserve duty and the army is the largest ever. Why? Precisely due to what is stated above. An army that has a state does not like to leave citizens outside its sphere of influence. In Israel, the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem is the Holy Temple, the Defense Minister the High Priest, the army officers are the priests in holy service and enlistment day is the Bar Mitzvah of Israeli-ness. A person who doesn’t serve in the army is not really “Israeli”.
The gatekeepers of the Israeli ethos enjoy immense power and unlimited faith from a public that does not have the professional tools or the conscious ability to criticize them. Take for example the last war in Gaza. For a month and a half, missiles slammed into Tel Aviv and all that the IDF managed to create was a tie between the Israeli elephant and the Gazan fly. But a poll showed that public faith in the IDF had skyrocketed. Even the Second Lebanon War fiasco is sold to the public today as a success.
When the Prime Minister asked Chief of Staff Ashkenazi and Mossad Chief Dagan to prepare Israel’s forces to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, the two refused to obey his orders (Dagan publicly admitted this). They were not fired and they were not executed by a firing squad. They both continued in their positions and it was the Prime Minister who backed down. The Deputy Chief of Staff who compared those Israelis who do not agree with his values to Germans at the beginning of the development of Nazism was not relieved of his duties and was not put on trial. On the contrary, he was given great respect and recently accompanied the Prime Minister on his state trip to Africa.
So what is Israel? A state with an army? Or an army with a state? There is nothing to worry about. There will be no military coup in Israel. In too many ways, the army already rules here. What Israel really needs is a civilian coup.