IDF chief rejects accusation army spokesman is left-wing

Kohavi said, "Any attempt to connect the IDF spokesman to political activities is part of a smear campaign which must be stopped immediately and has no place" in Israeli public rhetoric.

 BRIG.-GEN. RAN KOCHAV, former commander of the air force’s Air Defense Command, takes over as the new chief IDF spokesperson and member of the General Staff. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
BRIG.-GEN. RAN KOCHAV, former commander of the air force’s Air Defense Command, takes over as the new chief IDF spokesperson and member of the General Staff.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi on Monday stridently rejected allegations by Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan that IDF spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochav is left-wing and has moved the IDF in that direction.

Kohavi said, "Any attempt to connect the IDF spokesman to political activities is part of a smear campaign which must be stopped immediately and has no place" in Israeli public rhetoric.

Dagan made the accusations after a report by media expert Tzahi Davush identifying some members of the IDF Spokesperson's Unit as having posted left-wing comments on social media and after Kohavi recently condemned an IDF soldier for illegally beating a left-wing activist in Hebron.

None of the three soldiers whose posts were made public are officers and the Spokesperson's Unit includes over 600 soldiers and officers.

Essentially, the broader critique was that Kochav has shifted Kohavi himself and the IDF in general to more left-wing-leaning actions and views.

Ran Kochav appointed as next IDF spokesperson, April 3, 2021. (credit: IDF)Ran Kochav appointed as next IDF spokesperson, April 3, 2021. (credit: IDF)

Has the IDF been shifting to the Left?

Kohavi emphasized that the IDF is an apolitical institution that protects the nation and its citizens and that the IDF Spokesperson's Office follows this same apolitical line.

He added that the IDF Spokesperson's Unit has soldiers from every sector of Israeli society with no discrimination regarding gender, religious or ethnic background. 

Further, he added that Kochav came to his current position after a career in combat and 30 years of distinguished service in a variety of command-level positions. 

It was unclear how Davush was connecting posts made by rank-and-file soldiers within the large IDF Spokesperson's Unit to its top commander, when many of the soldiers have little to no regular interaction with him.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid also came out in support of the IDF spokesperson.

"We give full backing to IDF spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochav in the face of the disgraceful attempt to drag him into political controversy," Lapid said in a statement.

"This is part of a dangerous attempt to threaten the IDF and force it to conform to narrow political interests. Anyone who supports the IDF should come out against this smear campaign."