Former Israeli Intel Chief: “If We Shall Not End This Occupation, We Shall Not Have Democracy”

Palestine Israel
Former Israeli Intel Chief: “If We Shall Not End This Occupation, We Shall Not Have Democracy”

There has been a lot of truly terrible American journalism around Israel’s assault on Gaza. From the acceptable kind of antisemitism endorsed by our power centers to their stenographers dutifully pushing a defense of American empire and calling it journalism to our major news organizations outright publishing Benjamin Netanyahu’s lies about his murder of World Kitchen Workers, mainstream American media has broadly eschewed any kind of journalistic principles in order to aid an unhinged Israeli regime that most people in Israel don’t even support. This whole crisis is as good of an example you will see as to how a lot of mainstream media’s primary job is to protect the objectives of American empire.

Which is why it’s always a breath of fresh air seeing a Christiane Amanpour report. She is a capital-J journalist and she conducted a must-see interview with Ami Ayalon, the former head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. If you only got your news from stenographers like Jake Tapper who routinely spread misinformation that confirms their priors and misinforms the public, you would think Ayalon’s quotes came from some campus radical in a tent in the quad.

The reality is that many people in Israel like Ayalon are acutely aware of the depravity of the Israeli state, and his statements completely shatter the narrow worldview American stenographers have constructed around a country they prove time and time again they fundamentally do not understand. I urge you to watch the entire interview, but this is Ayalon’s thesis he returns to several times throughout Amanpour’s questioning.

“Unless we shall understand again and again, I’m saying it, that if we shall not end the occupation, we shall not have security. And if we shall not end this occupation we shall not have democracy…and this is the end of the Zionist dream because the Zionist dream is a state for Israel with a specific identity—a Jewish democracy. Our parents did not come from Arab states and Europe in order to create a totalitarian regime, and nobody will accept it. Palestinians are demanding freedom and they will fight for the end of occupation, and unless we shall understand that this piece of land is ours but it is not only ours—we have only two options—to divide it and to keep our identity or not to divide it and to lose our identity and to lose our security as well.”

In America, if you said, “this is the end of the Zionist dream for Israel,” you would be characterized as a radical extremist hellbent on spreading antisemitism. This is essentially the same argument Jamaal Bowman is making in his hotly contested Democratic primary where the Likud Party’s American election interference arm, AIPAC, has spent $23 million to unseat him (comprising a whopping 60% of all ad spending in the race), and Democratic operatives pretending to be journalists are slandering Bowman for saying essentially the same thing that Israel’s former head of internal security is asserting.

A lot of my fellow Jews have tried to take the easy way out of this mess and pin the entire blame for Gaza’s misery on Benjamin Netanyahu. The CNN headline writer even tried to mischaracterize Ayalon’s central point about “the occupation” while highlighting Ayalon’s quotes about Netanyahu underneath the interview. While Ayalon does repeatedly attack Netanyahu’s “toxic leadership” and he explains how Bibi’s unique brand of evil is inflaming this crisis that Israel’s butcher does not want to see end, Ayalon still returns to “the occupation” as the primary fissure causing “the end of the Zionist dream for Israel.” If you watch this entire 20-minute interview and come away thinking that the headline is Ayalon believes Bibi to be the largest impediment to Israel’s security, journalism is not the line of work for you.

Additionally, Amanpour asked him about the litany of depraved and barbaric images coming out of IDF soldiers’ social media, querying “do you feel they are losing their morality, their humanity?” and Ayalon extrapolated this sickness from the soldiers to the rest of Israeli society.

Ayalon: “Not they, we are losing. We are losing our identity as people. As Jews. And as human beings.”

Amanpour: “Did you ever think you would say that? You’re the former head of Shin Bet.”

Ayalon: “Yes, I’ve said it many times. And I said it in the Shin Bet when we tried to sink off our code of ethics. I said ‘when you send us to war, you don’t send us to negotiate. You send us to kill.’ Now we are born with the idea of ‘you shall not kill.’ And now you tell me ‘okay you go to war, kill all the enemies.’ Now the idea that I have the right to kill, now with time it becomes [second] nature. We do not ask why. The only question that we ask when we go to war is how to kill—whether we should use a knife or a gun or a missile—but it’s become a second nature, and this is a danger in every war. We saw it during all of history, what Americans did in Iraq and Afghanistan, what we did in the past, unless we understand that every war must end, this is what we should see. We shall lose our identity as a democratic human beings and we shall create a reality of never-ending war.”

It’s impossible to overstate how shocking these quotes are from an American perspective. We have been told nonstop since October 7th that this kind of direct critique of the state of Israel is antisemitic (which again, as I detailed, is a form of antisemitism that American media has adopted as acceptable because it accomplishes their prime objective of protecting American empire at all costs). Hearing it from a literal defender of the Israeli state must shatter the cloistered worldview of cable news producers.

There are many who rightfully point out that Ayalon helped carry out much of the depravity he now is critiquing, and this is a reasonable stance to take. He shouldn’t be classified as some hero for stating the obvious. Shin Bet has long tortured Palestinians and according to human rights groups, that still continues today. There are many Shin Bet practices that are actually illegal for Israeli police, as the lawyer Avigdor Feldman pointed out that “if Shin Bet detains you, you have no right to a lawyer for up to 20 days.”

But because Ayalon has overseen Israel’s barbarity, it gives him additional credibility to critique it because he has directly seen where this heads, and it’s that Israel “shall not have security as long as [Israel] shall not end the occupation…And [Israel] shall not have democracy as long as we shall not end the occupation.” CNN’s defenders of American empire can try to pin this interview on Bibi all they want in their headlines and writeup of it, but listening to the entire thing, it’s clear what Ayalon sees as the primary threat to Israel’s security.

The occupation of Palestine is and has been the prime source of tension in the Middle East since the Nakba in 1948. Israel was created through the forced displacement of Palestinians, and it has overseen an apartheid regime where Palestinians are definitionally second-class citizens. There are no amount of bombs that Israel can launch to destroy the Palestinians’ desire for self-determination, and Ayalon understands that with each bomb Israel drops, its ability to call itself a democracy wanes.

We have now reached a point where no one outside of the protectors of American empire, Netanyahu’s inner circle, and dead-end Zionists believe that Israel is a legitimate democracy, and Israel is well on its way to becoming an international pariah state. If Israel does not drastically change its course away from an apartheid state, then as Ayalon said, the Zionist project is dead.

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