Right rides new Labor chief Golan after potentially misleading comments on refusing reserve duty air

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

File: Yair Golan speaks during an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv, March 2, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
File: Yair Golan speaks during an anti-government protest in Tel Aviv, March 2, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Politicians across the right are accusing newly elected Labor leader Yair Golan of calling on IDF reservists to refuse to serve in order to bring down the government.

The claims come after the publication of a video by the pro-Netanyahu Channel 14 of an event earlier this month in which Golan can be heard recalling how elite reservists stopped showing up for volunteer duty last year in protest of the government’s plans to upend the judicial system.

“The smallest threat of civil disobedience puts Netanyahu under intense pressure,” he can be heard saying. “Why don’t we make much wider use of this?”

Asked for an example, Golan responds that civil disobedience could mean that “until this government is replaced, we don’t do reserve duty.”

Golan goes on to qualify that “I am not discussing now about if this is the best step.” However, in the clip published by Channel 14, seemingly taken by a participant, the word “if” is inaudible, leaving the impression that he said “I am not discussing now, this is the best step.” He can be heard saying the “if” in other recordings of his statement.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir calls upon Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara to open a criminal investigation into Golan for “openly inciting insubordination and disobedience among reservists while the State of Israel is at war.”

“We were shocked to hear the inciting and irresponsible words of the new head of the Labor Party,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party says in a statement accusing Golan of seeking to “encourage refusal during wartime.”

Such a call “harms the chances of bringing back the hostages and harms the security of the country,” Likud says. “All this for the opportunity to topple the government. There is no end to hatred.”

Golan won the Labor primary with 95 percent of the vote this week and has promised to unite the left in order to “build a ruling party.”

Channel 14’s report comes less than a week after Netanyahu’s son Yair shared a clip on social media of an armed and masked infantryman vowing to refuse Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s orders and asserting that soldiers will only listen to the prime minister.

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