Legitimizing anarchy (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Dan Margalit 08/16/12)
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It´s an amazing petition, aimed at Israel´s pilots. They are being
asked to break an order, silence the engines on their jets and not
take off for targets in Iran. Among the signatories is former head of
Tel Aviv University´s Faculty of Law, Prof. Menachem Mautner. If and
when they receive the order to attack, "you have the option of also
saying no," thereby doing "an important, vital service for the State
of Israel and all its residents — a giant service, greatly
outweighing what you would be doing by blindly following this
I read the petition and recalled how in 2007 several of Mautner´s
colleagues described him as the right man to be appointed to the
Mautner is affable, articulate and wise, but he was somewhat ill at
ease Wednesday during his radio interview with Razi Barkai on Army
Radio, in which he explained his support for the essence of the
petition but not necessarily its specific content.
I phoned him to better understand his position. As we spoke I
recognized some trepidation in his voice, but I didn´t receive a
For some time now Mautner has felt a deep sense of anxiety over the
possibility of a military strike in Iran, and when he read Defense
Minister Ehud Barak´s interview with Ari Shavit in Haaretz he decided
to take action, which in essence is a call to thwart a legal order
issued by the government.
It would be one thing if, at least, he could explain how such an
order to attack could be considered illegal, but his integrity forced
him to admit that was not the case. How has he lent his hand in
support of a petition that is a call for an undemocratic rebellion?
Indeed, he has always been a champion of democratic virtues.
With his signature, Mautner gave legitimacy to the "hilltop youth" of
Judea and Samaria and to those of their ilk who have authored
manuscripts calling for a return to biblical law, those whose inner
voices have told them that the current situation is so unique that it
is permissible to hinder the government´s lawful conduct. They feel
this so deeply that the writers of the petition threatened the pilots
that if Iranian civilians are affected by radioactive fallout from
the damaged nuclear sites, they would be considered war criminals.
The professor tried explaining that right-wing insubordination is
done for the purpose of creating a Halachic state (a state run
according to Jewish religious law) and is inappropriate to begin
with, while the Left acts to return Israel to its good old values.
This is most certainly not the case — the value of an independent
Jewish nation is no less important than having a democracy. The
Declaration of Independence read by David Ben-Gurion at Israel´s
birth opened with the reminder that "The Land of Israel was the
birthplace of the Jewish people," and then went on to promise —
thankfully — individual and civic freedom. Judaism and democracy are,
in Israel, akin to Siamese twins.
If unique circumstances justify the decision to rebel against the
legal government, why evacuate an outpost on land taken from
Palestinians? The outpost´s inhabitants, after all, have similar
feelings to those who signed the petition.
During our conversation, Mautner emphasized that he and his
colleagues were experiencing a sense of anxiety that they have never
felt before, which is true, though the atmosphere during the weeks
leading up to the Six-Day War in 1967 was similar. In matters of
security and defense, Mautner has tied his views to one big tree
(former IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Amnon Lipkin Shahak) and
one little tree (Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit), and has adopted the belief
that the Americans will do the job for us — but if they don´t? Fear
and anxiety are not good advisers to those who need to take a
I also struggle day and night asking myself what the best course of
action is and what is less dangerous, and whether to put our fates in
friendly hands from abroad. These days, it´s better to trust what we
know for certain, not the calls of those who signed the pilots´
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