I know that here in America, some of us occasionally talk about the idea of there being a civil war in our own time. To some, it seems inevitable, to others, it'll never happen. But I would never say never, because it still happens in other countries, and is actually on the brink of happening right now in Israel as the opposition party has called for civil war.
Retired Israeli Army veteran Yehuda Hodak recently caused a stir when he announced that he was prepared to take up arms and go to war if it became necessary in order to prevent the country from becoming a dictatorship. Hodak, who is 70 years old, made the comments during an interview with the Jerusalem Post, wherein he expressed his concern about what would happen if the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial reform were unsuccessful. "If they impose a dictatorship on me, I'll fight," he said during a telephone interview with Channel 13's current-events program Hazinor. "Even with weapons, if necessary."
Hodak wasn't alone in his sentiments. Ze'ev Raz, one of the organizers of the 2021 violent protests outside the house of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also called for his assassination: “If the prime minister assumes dictatorial powers, he has to die, plain and simple, along with his ministers and followers.” He later walked back these comments after being questioned by police. On Saturday night at a rally in Haifa, opposition leader Yair Lapid called for “fighting in the streets", an approach which could potentially lead to civil unrest and violence.
The source of this tension stems from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial reform which left-wing politicians fear will erode Israeli democracy and weaken their own political power within the country. In response to these worries voiced by opposition leader Yair Lapid, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued that those opposed needed to accept their electoral losses instead of resorting to sedition or physical violence as solutions.
However, Hodak insists that given how important it is for Israelis not to be ruled by a dictatorship as many countries are now throughout history, fighting for freedom might be a necessary evil, even if it means resorting to violence if nonviolent forms of civil disobedience fail. This sentiment is echoed by many other citizens around Israel who feel that no cost is too high when it comes to protecting their beloved nation from becoming an oppressive regime.
This controversial debate between those who are willing to fight for democracy and those who oppose physical action shows that many Israelis are in desperate need of unity among its people so as not make any rash decisions which could lead down a destructive path towards civil war.