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Hatred of Netanyahu Has Made Ya'alon Abandon His Principles

Nave Dromi
Nave Dromi
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Moshe Ya'alon at Kahol Lavan headquarters in Tel Aviv after the election, March 3, 2020.
Moshe Ya'alon at Kahol Lavan headquarters in Tel Aviv after the election, March 3, 2020.Credit: Daniel Bar-On
Nave Dromi
Nave Dromi

Blue and White MK Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon lives, breathes, eats and drinks his hatred for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is obsessive about the man in a way that does not allow him to think about anything else except, again, Netanyahu.

The subject rules him to the point of making him lose sight of his principles and ideology, which were until not long ago Ya’alon’s bread and butter. He is, after all proud and rightly so that there was someone who opposed the Gaza disengagement and Ariel Sharon. He came out against Netanyahu a number of times and blamed him for having supported the disengagement.

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So what has happened to Ya’alon, who is now prepared to relinquish his most basic principles and walk hand in hand with those from whose perspective the evacuation from Gush Katif was only the beginning? Indeed, Netanyahu. Because of his hatred for the man, Ya’alon is prepared to become the 2020 model of Sharon.

Many on the right seek to mark the Elor Azaria incident in 2016 as the point where the breach between Ya’alon and Netanyahu began. Ya’alon was disappointed with Netanyahu, who changed his attitude towards the soldier who shot and killed an immobilized terrorist in Hebron, in the wake of criticism from the right. However, it appears that the gaps began even before then. For despite the hostility between Netanyahu and (now defense minister) Naftali Bennett, in Operation Protective Edge in 2014, it was Bennett, the minister at the time of Jerusalem and diaspora affairs, who correctly analyzed the threat of the tunnels that Hamas had dug beneath Gaza, whereas Ya’alon, who was the minister of defense, took the side of Benny Gantz, then chief of staff, and the two of them demonstrated their distance from the reality.

This should come as no surprise. A former Israel Defense Forces officer who served alongside him told me how during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, Ya’alon, as deputy army chief, was the one who apparently opposed going into the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip with ground forces to wipe out terrorist cells. Back then, the very same person who was in charge of wiping out terrorism and today talks endlessly about the need to defeat Hamas, reprimanded and accused other officers of being irresponsible and said that sending in ground troops would be a dangerous move.

It is hard to believe, but the person who distributed Natan Alterman’s poem “Then the Devil Said” to his officers upon retiring from the general staff, is the person who today is prepared to link up with people who want to undermine our faith and our rightness. On the one hand he has the image of someone who is eager for battle and on the other hand his conduct in recent years shows that his desire to do battle against Netanyahu has overcome his desire to fight against his true enemies. It’s just like the way Sharon’s desire to be loved or distract the public from the legal attention aimed at him at the time, overpowered his view of regional reality and impelled him to betray the rightist camp and Israeli democracy.

There is also another way. Facing Ya’alon are Blue and White MKs Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel, whose opinions of Netanyahu are not any more positive than his but who nevertheless remain true to their principles. For Ya’alon, the obsessive desire to topple Netanyahu has overtaken him completely, to the point of losing it.

Ya’alon talks endlessly about Netanyahu’s responsibility for the divisiveness and incitement in Israeli society but he does not pay any attention to his own recent, more divisive moves. His nullification of Netanyahu is also the nullification of all those rightist voters who cast their ballots for him, despite everything that they knew.

If Ya’alon does not retract his agreement to accept support from the Joint List, he will no longer be remembered like Rafael (Raful) Eitan, the right-wing, secular moshavnik chief of staff and politician (who Ya’alon perhaps even tried to mimic), who felt disgusted when in 1993 he saw how MK Gonen Segev of his own Tzomet party crossed the line and voted for the Oslo agreement; he is liable to be a Gonen Segev himself. The divisiveness and destruction of democracy will then reach a peak and he will not be able to blame Netanyahu for that, but only himself.

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