I'm not so much amused as depressed by the views of Israel's former defense minister.
Israel’s departing defence minister Moshe Ya’alon has denounced the "extremist and dangerous elements" which "have taken over Israel and the Likud party" as he left office.
Mr Ya’alon was speaking at the military headquarters of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in Tel Aviv amid a growing political storm over the country’s leadership.
He was forced to stand down to make way for Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the hard-right Yisrael Beitenu party, whose decision to join the Likud party-led cabinet has created what Israeli newspapers are calling the most right-wing government in Israel's history. He is now quitting the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
Mr Ya'alon said he had spent his career fighting extremism, violence and racism, but that they were threatening the "sturdiness" of society and trickling into the IDF.
"The state of Israel is patient and tolerant toward the weak among it and minorities," he said. "But to my great regret extremist and dangerous elements have overrun Israel as well as the Likud party, shaking up our home and threatening harm to those in it."
He added that he had "recently found myself in strong disagreement on moral and professional issues with the prime minister, a number of ministers and several MPs".
Mr Ya’alon’s dismissal as defence minister came after months of disagreements with the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Last Sunday, Mr Ya’alon was summoned for a “clarification” meeting with the Israeli prime minister following a speech in which he urged IDF generals to continue to voice their opinions, even if they contradicted government policy, while warning of increasingly militant views which he said had crept into mainstream Israeli society.
There's more at the link.
My initial reaction to Mr. Ya'alon's claims was a weary, "No ****, Sherlock!" Of course the Israeli government - and its society in general - have become more polarized. Just look at the environment they face! Current threats include (but are not limited to):
- A resurgent Assad administration in Syria, which means growing Iranian influence there - the same Iran that constantly threatens Israel with annihilation;
- Iran's client terror movements, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. They will be more assured of resupply and support, including modern guided weapons and even, possibly, Iranian Revolutionary Guards to join their operations. In return, it's reported that Iran will seek to use Hamas forces to combat ISIL in Syria, just as Hezbollah is already doing;
- Hamas is trying to rebuild and expand its tunnel network into Israel, to carry out terror operations at times and places of its choosing;
- Turkey has been a long-term supporter of ISIL in Syria. As the latter teeters on the edge of defeat, Turkey may seek to reimpose itself as a dominant Islamic force in the Middle East, to serve as a counterweight to Assad in Syria and Iranian ambitions in the area;
- Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are proposing to train and arm opponents of ISIL in Syria, in direct opposition to Iran's efforts in the area. Israel's right in the cross-hairs if conflict erupts;
- Instability in Iraq continues to threaten the entire Persian Gulf region;
- Iran may abandon its 'nuke deal' with the USA and other powers and 'go it alone', leaving Israel more vulnerable if it should develop a nuclear weapon.
Given that combination of threats and influences, I'd be astonished if Israel as a whole - its government and its people - were not growing more paranoid, more hard-line in their response to the threats confronting them. It's inevitable. As Newton's Third Law of Motion put it, "To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction". That seems to apply in politics as much as it does in physics.
I continue to be astonished that we haven't seen a major international conflict erupt in the Middle East over the past two to three years. It's come pretty close at times, what with Russian, Iranian and Turkish intervention in the Syrian crisis, but it's always been kept under control. However, Israel's now on a hair-trigger to defend its own interests and, if necessary, ensure its survival, no matter what the cost. If Iran puts a foot wrong, I won't be surprised to see Teheran become a glass-topped parking lot in the Persian desert, along with every major Iranian city and installation of importance.