Tens of thousands of IDF reservists have signed the Brothers in Arms public letter to the government that they will suspend presenting themselves for duty if the government goes through with its judicial overhaul, said Sayeret Matkal reservist Eyal Nave on Thursday.
Nave, who is among the Brothers in Arms leading activists, said, “The protest of the reservists is calling on anyone who volunteers for reserve duty to sign the letter of intent to drop reserve duty. Those who signed include pilots, intelligence officials, elite combat units, artillery units, tank units and others - Tens of thousands have signed!”
The group held a major public event on Wednesday in an escalation of the public campaign on the issue.
He said that passage of the law to change the appointment of judges was the redline which would alter the entire playing field and lead to a mass of reservist no-shows.
“We don’t call it a judicial overhaul, we call it an overthrow of the form of [democratic] government. The government will take all of the power through the current legislation,” said the special forces fighter.
Next, he said, “People will take us to The Hague court [the International Criminal Court]. Without an independent court, The Hague can go after us.”
Further, he said the government’s judicial overhaul would lead to “taking away basic rights for minorities, women and poorer sectors.”
If the government continues its judicial overhaul push, he stated, “We will continue to do everything,” including mass protests and rallying more reservists to sign the protest letter.
“We will continue with all of our might to protest in front of and dialogue with Knesset members, to plan events, to protest in Bnei Brak and at the Kohelet Forum – that place is bringing the biggest disaster to Israel,” said Nave.
Fighting for Israel's future
Moreover, he explained, “It is equivalent to the failure before the Yom Kippur War. All the economic experts say the economy will be destroyed. All the legal experts say, it[the judicial overhaul] will erase the judiciary. All of the security chiefs say the IDF will break into pieces.”
“Already 30% of reservists are not presenting themselves for reserve duty. Our society is falling apart into rival tribes. Stop. You [ the government] have four years [to do the judicial overhaul]. Sit with people who have different views from you,” according to Nave.
He noted the Yediot Ahronot report that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had insisted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stop the current legislation. At press time, Netanyahu had announced he would make a dramatic announcement regarding the judicial overhaul on Thursday night. Nave was critical of Gallant for mostly remaining on the sidelines, but said he hoped the defense minister would now have a positive influence.
While being distracted by the judicial overhaul, he said the government is “not dealing with the increasingly difficult cost of living, social justice or other reforms, such as when the government failed to pass the law to put electronic tracking on criminals” who attack women.
All the government wants is to “bring about a change in the form of government so that a prime minister accused of crimes will have the power to do anything” he wants.
Next, he warned that, “Now, they [the government] are trying ‘the salami technique’. First, they will appoint to the courts members of the Likud. Then the new courts will let them pass all of their undemocratic laws.”
Pushing back against this scenario , he said the protests and opposition “are now one strong bloc and we want a constitution,”
Otherwise, he warned that Israel would “transform into being like Hungary. First, the government would weaken the courts, then the media, then academia and then everyone else. Netanyahu is broken” in terms of the democratic values he was once loyal to.
He cautioned, “We are in a civil war. This is a second War of Independence.”
In addition, he brushed aside criticism that the reservist refusal to do training could endanger Israel regarding threats from Hezbollah, Hamas and others, saying “there is no actual war right now. But obviously if Israel’s existence was in danger, we would come. We leave our families, our work and everything – and some of us die in battle - to always defend the country – but not to defend this government.”
Continuing, he said he hoped that in that case “even the Haredim who usually do not raise a finger,” to help the IDF would volunteer to defend the country.