Israeli Fighter Pilots & Commandos Threaten Mass Resignation if Controversial Judicial Reforms Move Forward

Recent reports point to a thousand Israel military reservists threatening to stop reporting for duty or resigning outright if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government moves forward with a series of controversial judicial reforms. Of those threatening to resign are hundreds of veteran elite fighter pilots and commandos. 

Due to how reservists are an integral part of Israel’s armed forces, above all its air force, Israeli military officials proclaimed that such a mass walkout could negatively impact the country’s military capacity. On top of that, military officials fear that such mass walkouts could motivate more full-time service members to drop out of the ranks of the military. 

In a letter directed to the commander of Sayeret Matkal, an elite special forces unit, more than 300 reservists proclaimed:  

“In the face of recent legislative procedures that the government is advancing…while completely ignoring that this legislation is destroying the shared basis of Israeli society and tearing apart the nation, our conscience does not permit us to stand aside.”

Other reservists drafted group resignation letters per a report by The New York Times. As opposed to their reservist counterparts in the United States, who generally drill for only one weekend monthly and two weeks in the summer, Israeli pilots must take part in multiple training exercises on a monthly basis, and participate in warfare exercises on multiple occasions.  

Such upheavals among the ranks of the Israeli military come during a year when Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have their hands full in confronting hostile actors in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, southern Lebanon, and Syria. 

On the political front, Netanyahu has teamed up with hard-right nationalists and religious fundamentalists to form one of the more extremist governments in Israeli history. One of the most controversial reforms that the Netanyahu-led coalition is spearheading are judicial reforms that would get rid of the supreme court’s power to block government action or policy through an  evaluation of its “reasonableness.” Netanyahu and his political ilk believes that such a standard is too flexible and gives the Supreme Court too much power. The roll out of these reforms have provoked a major backlash among leftist segments of the Israel populace. 

What’s happening in Israel is the product of a growing demographic shift where religious, ethno-nationalist Jews are outpacing their secular counterparts. In turn, they’re beginning to enter the political scene and assert themselves in a controversial manner. Should these trends continue, Israel will likely transform into an ethno-religious state that would be unrecognizable to its secular founders. 

Regardless of what happens in Israel,  the US should stay away and keep its hands off. This tense moment in Israeli history is the perfect opportunity for the US to recalibrate its relationship with a state that is not only a geopolitical troublemaker but that is likely going to get rocked by internal strife.

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