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Protest Speech by (Ret.) Major General Yair Golan, Ber Sheva, Israel

July 8, 2023

Photo by Oded Angel, Shatil Stock

This coming Tuesday, the Override Bill is expected to pass its first reading in the Knesset. When the bill becomes law, Israel will no longer be a democracy. We will become the subjects of an evil, corrupt, corrupting, and vengeful regime.

For many months I have been calling for a non-violent, civil uprising. This has resulted in many condemnations by the extremist and corrupt group of jingoists comprising the current coalition, and I have even, to my huge disappointment, been censured by members of the opposition. I want to tell you one simple thing: I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I am closely familiar with historical processes and know the ultra-Orthodox and radical right-wing leaderships very well. I am also no stranger to Netanyahu’s nefarious conduct. Netanyahu has only two goals in mind: to avoid the judicial consequences of his own crimes and to stay in the prime minister’s seat. The ultra-Orthodox leadership likewise has only two objectives: to reinforce its communal autonomy and to ensure its control of its constituents, to which end the latter must remain ignorant and impoverished. Similarly, the right-wing messianic group has two interests as well: to establish the kingdom of Israel in all parts of the biblical land no matter the cost, and to turn the state of Israel into a theocracy run on religious law.

This is a highly potent convergence of interests whose realization is dependent upon a change in the nature of the nation’s regime, including the executive’s full control of the judiciary to the point that the independence of the courts will be theoretical at best. Unless we rise up, the plan will be realized. Unless we resist, the plan will be realized. Unless we fight for Israeli democracy, Israel will become a dictatorship, and we will become a populace subject to the arbitrary governance of an exploitive, corrupt, and messianic leadership.

We must therefore be informed and effective when taking action in the three avenues open to us: demonstrations, strikes, and civil disobedience. Demonstrations cannot be limited to Saturday nights. We will have to demonstrate every week, all week long, while ramping up the pressure on the government until it is toppled. We will have to make sure the entire country goes on strike. At the moment, without the partnership of the national trade union center (The Histadrut), this is a tough move, though this is an opportunity to tell Arnon Bar-David: Arnon,wake up! You and your friends have to act before you discover that the workers you represent have become the first victims of the messianic dictatorship coming into being. We will be obliged to engage in civil disobedience. Under no circumstance will we serve a corrupt, exploitive, messianic regime. We will not pay taxes, fees, levies, or tariffs to a corrupt, exploitive, messianic regime. Civil disobedience is pointless if only isolated individuals act, but it becomes a powerful tool when thousands - tens of thousands - take part. It’s only a question of the right level of rage and proper organization. I suggest that, from this moment onward, we set our level of rage at its highest setting and that we place our trust only in ourselves and not in pointless discussions at the president’s residence. When it comes to organization, we have incredible people doing amazing work. Hats off to them.

To conclude, I’d like to say two things about the more distant future: one, we have to start getting ready for the next parliamentary election. It will take place and we must make it happen sooner rather than later. We must come to the next election clear, organized, and courageous. Two, we have to remember that in shoring up Israel’s democracy, national security and civilian solidarity demand a new Zionist contract, separation from the Palestinians, and the advancement of civilian economic equality. Without this triad, we will have no real salvation. May we be worthy of this fateful hour and never, ever give up!


Yair Golan is a (Ret.) Major General and former Member of Knesset This speech was published by USA for Israeli Democracy, courtesy of Yair Golan


April 28, 2024

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