IDF Veteran Who Backed Netanyahu in International Media Blasts Him in Viral Facebook Post

Posting a photo of the Israeli prime minister and himself on a 1997 cover of the New York Times, former IDF lieutenant Avi Buskila blasted the PM's 'dictatorial monarchist rule.'

A January 1997 cover of the New York Times depicting Netanyahu and IDF Lieutenant Avi Buskila shaking hands, after Buskila helped stop a Jewish terrorist in Hebron.
A January 1997 cover of the New York Times depicting Netanyahu and IDF Lieutenant Avi Buskila shaking hands, after Buskila helped stop a Jewish terrorist in Hebron. Credit: Screengrab, Avi Buskila's Facebook page

A veteran Israel Defense Force lieutenant and avid Netanyahu supporter who previously addressed international media on his behalf bitterly criticized the prime minister in a viral Facebook post Thursday afternoon.

Avi Buskila posted the cover of the January 1997 issue of the New York Times, which featured a photo of Netanyahu and himself, with a post beneath it that acerbically outlined his disappointment in the prime minister, and chronicled his own political maturity since the days when he supported Netanyahu's policies. The post had over 4,800 likes and over 950 shares within 8 hours of publication.

שלום לך בנימין נתניהו.זוכר את התמונה הזו?אתה ואני על שער הניו יורק טיימס.יום לאחר שעזרתי לך להציל את עורך כשמנענו חיי...

"Do you remember this picture?" Buskila asks in the Hebrew post. "[It is] You and me on the front page of the New York Times a day after I helped you save your skin when my soldiers and I prevented a massacre that a Jewish soldier in Hebron tried to commit."

Buskila was a lieutenant in the IDF in 1997 and had helped thwart an indiscriminate shooting attack directed at Palestinians in a Hebron marketplace, perpetrated by Noam Friedman, an Israeli soldier who had reportedly been expelled by a yeshiva prior to his army enlistment. His yeshiva recommended he receive psychiatric help, but he did not and was still admitted into the IDF. Netanyahu was in his first term as prime minister at the time of the incident.

The post goes on to describe Buskila's feelings of pride in the lives that he and his soldiers saved in putting a stop to Friedman. But he no longer feels the same way as he did two decades ago.

"Today, Mr. Netanyahu, I would act precisely the same [way] and save those same lives time after time," Buskila wrote, "but I wouldn't be interviewed for you and your sake. I wouldn't represent you, and I wouldn't cover for you." Today, Buskila regrets the interviews that he conducted with the international press.

Buskila's criticism comes at a time in which dissent by veterans of the IDF has been in the news over controversy regarding the activities of Breaking the Silence, an organization founded by IDF veterans to expose misconduct by the Israeli army in the territories. This week, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon ordered a halt to the organization's activities on IDF army bases and Education Minister Naftali Bennett issued a directive that the group not to be allowed into the country's schools.

"I have matured since, gotten wiser, learned a thing or two about politics and army-government relations," Buskila wrote. "I have no complaints against the army, at least not as many I do against you. You are using us to solidify one-man rule, the rule of the wealthy, dictatorial monarchist rule. You, Mr. Netanyahu, have violated the agreement between us, with the citizens, whether they voted for you or not. You are permitting incitement and baseless hatred."

Earlier this week, opposition leader Isaac Herzog also accused Netanyahu of incitement, for allowing Knesset to denigrate President Reuven Rivlin.

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