Salute the General Who Dared to Break the Silence

Amiram Levin exhibited bravery during his years in the Israeli army, just as he did this weekend when he spoke out in defense of Breaking the Silence.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Former IDF soldier and deputy head of the Mossad Amiram Levin.
Amiram Levin is finally breaking the silence.Credit: Moti Milrod
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

An August 2006 article in TheMarker was headlined “Amiram Levins are needed.” “The Israel Defense Forces has two types of senior commander,” the article stated. “The ‘buddy-buddy’ ones who get by, and the thinkers who base their actions on values.” Of the latter, it said “they are driven by the intrinsic value of sustaining the existence of the people of Israel. They are open to new ideas and aren’t afraid to deal with constructive criticism. They generally dislike internal politics and aren’t good at it. Most of their energies are devoted toward their soldiers. For me, Amiram Levin embodies this kind of commander.”

The writer called for the return of his hero to active duty in the IDF. “Imagine what a breath of fresh air he would bring,” he waxed. At the end, there were a few words about the author, still unknown in those days: “The writer was a company commander in an elite unit and was the CEO of a high-tech company for seven years.”

The article’s writer was Naftali Bennett, now the chairman of Habayit Hayehudi and the education minister. His hero Levin took a bold and exceptional step over the weekend, no less courageous than Operation Spring of Youth in 1973, when Israeli commandoes (including Levin) slipped into Beirut and killed Black September members, or the 1975 hostage rescue at the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv, in which he also participated. Maj. Gen. (res.) Levin took out a large ad in Haaretz Hebrew last Fruday under the heading, “I’m also breaking the silence.” He wrote that the Breaking the Silence organization strengthens the IDF and its morality, and that its silencing weakens the army and damages it. He added that the military should be encouraging Breaking the Silence and its ilk.

We could, of course, ask why Levin has waited until he is almost 70 before breaking his silence. Why not back then, when he saw things and remained silent? And why only Levin? Why not Ehud Barak, for example? Or Benny Gantz? Or a long list of silent cowards, or those who were brainwashed and poisoned? However, Levin, who took part in nearly all the army’s adventures during his years of service – the essential and superfluous ones, the just and criminal ones – has appeared for several years now exactly as the young Bennett described him: moral, daring and ethical. Perhaps belatedly, but definitely bravely. It came to a head with the ad he published in these dark days. As the sage Hillel wrote, “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.”

What would you say in response, brother Naftali? Is Levin still your hero? Is he still motivated by the value of sustaining the Jewish people? Will you let him enter schools and give lectures? Or is he also a traitor in your eyes?

Levin broke the silence in a place where nearly everyone holds their tongue. The opposition is silent and the media quiet, as are the commanders who know the truth: They know that Breaking the Silence is telling the truth, and they know full well that these are not exceptional instances but the routine of a brutal occupation. They were all there; they saw and remained silent.

There are also those, like Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who cynically joined the incitement. What will Lapid say of Levin, a person awarded the highest military citation for heroism? That he is lying, too? Go on, we dare you to go against Levin’s testimony.

In a healthier society, Levin’s ad would have shaken the foundations. However, Levin won’t change much – at least, not in the short term. The campaign to delegitimize him is already underway. Politicians will say he’s a “frustrated general,” while military analysts will chorus that we “shouldn’t be too excited by his statements.”

If once we believed that a few hundred conscientious objectors could ultimately end the occupation, our hopes were dashed. Hopes that a thousand soldier-witnesses breaking the silence would bring about a change have also been frustrated. Now it’s also no longer sufficient for the deafening testimony of a reserve general, the commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit and a former deputy head of the Mossad.

The most effective brainwashing system in the world will get busy and trample on Levin until his voice is muffled. However, this voice must be kept alive. Levin should be saluted with gratitude. “Amiram Levins are needed,” as his subordinate Bennett wrote – and now this demand is more critical than ever.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage