Text size
related tags

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was incensed by Naftali Bennett's comments. "No one who supports refusing orders will sit in my cabinet," he said, in reference to what he interpreted as Bennett's refusal to carry out a hypothetical order to evict Jews from a settlement. The head of Habayit Hayehudi stands accused of waving a "black flag" above such an order, and by implication above any order that fails to win the support of the rabbis.

Conscientious objection is not a crime in liberal society, whose characteristics include an acceptance of views and beliefs that are not the consensus. Even more so in a polarized society that is navigating between occupation and bigotry on one side and a desire to emulate enlightened nations on the other. But Bennett is not a breast-beating pacifist, a peace lover who cannot endure the uprooting of anyone from their home, Jew and Arab alike. Bennett merely reflects the consensus that Netanyahu and his ideological doppelgangers took care to create. He represents the views of hundreds of thousands of Israelis who view the settlers' state as the raison d'etre of the State of Israel, and the thousands of soldiers who have accepted the rabbis as their commanders. These are the same people who are very proud of Netanyahu's arrogant behavior toward the world and who support his refusal to comply with international standards of conduct in the occupied territories.

Bennett is more direct, and he is not bound by false propriety. He calls a spade a spade, and when he imbues his refusal of orders with divine sacredness he constitutes a real threat to Netanyahu. The attack on Bennett from the right is not a genuine disavowal of his principles; rather, it is as if to roll their eyes at him. After all, this is the same right that turned the unauthorized settlement outposts into holy sites, that advances the book "Torat Hamelech: The Laws of Killing Non-Jews," even while denouncing it for the sake of appearances, and that builds thousands of homes in the territories as a punitive measure against the Palestinians. Bennett's expression of refusal, against which left and right momentarily united eagerly, is a negligible threat. Much more dangerous is placing the directives of the rabbis above cabinet resolutions or military orders, not to mention the government's policy of sliding into the abyss, isolating Israel from the rest of the world and paving the way for Bennettism.