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What the Israel Defense Forces’ Protests Imply About the Role of the Military in Democracies

April 12, 2023
Rebecca Best, Jessica Blankshain, and Debra Leiter


In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Rebecca Best, associate professor at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, Jessica Blankshain, associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, and Debra Leiter, associate professor at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, analyze the implications for democracies—especially Israel—with militaries increasingly involved in politics.

Since February 24, Israel Defense Force (IDF) reservists have joined popular protests against efforts by Israel’s far-right coalition’s efforts to weaken judicial independence. The effort, supported by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, would allow the Knesset to overturn judicial decisions and require a judicial supermajority to overturn government action. It is the latest in a string of moves that some fear are eroding Israel’s democracy.

With reservists refusing or threatening to refuse to report for duty if the legislation passes, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called on the government to freeze the legislation. He was summarily fired. Gallant has not yet left office, saying he was never formally dismissed, and Netanyahu has paused deliberation over the legislation.

Ruptures between the military and the political establishment raise three broad questions with implications for Israel and other democracies whose militaries are increasingly pulled into politics:

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance.