Protester in Jerusalem says he’ll stop serving in reserves if bill passes today

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Itai Nakash at a protest against the judicial overhaul in Jerusalem, July 24, 2023. (Jeremy Sharon/Times of Israel)
Itai Nakash at a protest against the judicial overhaul in Jerusalem, July 24, 2023. (Jeremy Sharon/Times of Israel)

Itai Nakash, from Haifa, arrives at the protest against the coalition’s legal reforms outside the Knesset with a banner demanding “How can a government of draft-dodgers call me a service refuser?!”

Nakash, who served in the Israeli Air Force, says he sees the government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary as “a real danger to the security and future of the state of Israel.”

He has suspended his reserve duty service and will stop completely if the legislation is passed today.

He objects to those in the coalition and their supporters who label as “draft refusers” the IDF reservists who have said they will stop doing reserve duty because of the judicial legislation, pointing out that many in the coalition — particularly in the ultra-Orthodox parties — never served at all.

“It’s incredibly hypocritical of the government and its supporters to refer to us as draft refusers, when it is we who volunteer for reserve duty and are a small proportion of the population which the government takes for granted, and when a lot of them didn’t do any service at all, as is required by law,” says Nakash.

He acknowledges the danger to the army and the country of citizens stopping their reserve duty service, but insists the alternative is worse.

“It would be more damaging to allow the legislation to continue. This is not a political protest about left or right; this is about an effort to change the type of regime we have.

“You can serve a government whose ideology you don’t agree with, but it is dangerous to blindly follow orders especially if the government is extremely radical and showing signs of dictatorship,” says Nakash, referencing countries where democratic values and rights have been significantly damaged in recent years such as Poland and Hungary.

Nakash says he believes the massive demonstrations, strike action, and civil disobedience is justified for the current legislation since he believes firstly that the bill itself is very problematic, but moreover because “it is just the start, they don’t deny it, and they are trying to prepare the ground for the rest of the judicial overhaul.”

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