Unlikely. True, the radical leftist Ha’aretz newspaper fantasizes about a coup. And until just a short while ago we had a defense minister who echoed Ha’aretz’s stand and called upon IDF officers to publicly express their disagreement with Israel’s government. But no, it does not seem that a military coup could occur 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 institution taken over during a putsch? The radio, of course. But, unlike the army of every other free country, the IDF already has its own radio station. In fact, it’s the most popular radio station in the country!
Furthermore, despite the fact that there are almost no Arab armies threatening Israel and that the relevant threats facing her only require an air force, technology, and special units – in other words, much less manpower – despite all this, there is a mandatory draft for all Israeli citizens, and Israel’s army is the largest ever. Why? The answer is simple: 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.Moshe Feiglin