The underlying premise of the judicial reforms in Israel, is very simple; democratic accountability. Today’s judicial system led by the Supreme Court has absolute authority, no diversity, and answer to no one. The people of Israel have lost their ability to empower their elected political party to decide on the policies that directly influence the Jewish character of the State of Israel, our faith and how we observe that faith, nor the functioning of governmental institutions or how they impact the average citizen. The judicial system that claims to protect the individual rights of citizens has lost the trust and confidence of the people of Israel. This is the sad reality that the people of Israel have had to face due to the mass demonstrations led by anarchists funded by foreign European governments and NGO’s funded by progressive supporters from the United States and Europe. Israel’s democratically elected government will in the coming weeks formulate a path that will create the necessary public consensus that will allow the judicial reforms to move ahead, strengthening Israel’s Democracy, and enabling Israel to fulfill her historical role as the home of the Jewish nation irrespective of one’s political orientation.

A noticeable and far reaching development during this period has been the refusal of a small yet vocal group of reserve Air Force pilots who publically called for the judicial reforms to be halted and if not, they would refuse to continue and fulfill their flight missions including operational preparations for the Iranian arena. The Israeli Air Force and her pilots have for the past 75 years since the establishment of the State of Israel, have been one of Israel’s most cherished, and exemplary role models for all Israeli’s. The Israeli Air Force has always been a shining star of Israeli patriotism and enjoyed a wall to wall consensus from all Israeli’s. The attempt to condition one’s military service and the fulfillment of orders to political events or legislation proposed by Israel’s legally elected government not only crossed a “red line” that had yet to be crossed in Israel, but was a blatant act of subordination of the military code.

This refusal to serve one’s country and condition one’s willingness to “carry the burden” of protecting one’s nation reminded me of my own personal experience during my military service in the first Lebanon War during the early 1980’s. At the time, I had made Aliyah to Israel three years prior and was now stationed in the outskirts of Beirut in the Shouf mountain region, an area that reminded me of upstate New York with its high mountains, dense forests, and heavy snow during the winter months. When I would be in touch with my family back in the States or friends from New York City, they would express their concern about me being in a war zone; I would jokingly respond that for a kid that grew up in the South Bronx, Lebanon was a piece of cake. Actually it wasn’t, it was in fact a war zone with danger and live threatening risks everywhere.

As a divisional mental health field officer, my professional responsibility included making daily visits to front line positions and examine/treat soldiers having emotional difficulties of “carrying the burden” of military service in a war zone. As opposed to most Western armies where the mental health officers are based in rear-echelon hospitals or infirmaries, in the Israeli Army, mental health officers were up there literally on the front lines. Naturally, the danger was very real and immediate and one had to mentally ignore these threats as I traveled with my driver from one front line position to another. This was my daily routine and as we approached the Sabbath we would be on alert despite staying on base over the weekend; once every three weeks I would return home to my wife for a long weekend before returning to the front lines in the Shouf Mountains.

Returning home after being three weeks on the front always was an event in itself. The daily convoys and especially just before the weekends in which soldiers would travel south towards Israel became targets for improvised explosive devices (IED), roadside bombs that were very deadly. As an officer in the division, I had when available, the option of leaving base by helicopter to northern Israel and then catch a military flight to the center of the country. Whenever the helicopter crossed the international border between Lebanon and Israel, I would look down and become incensed that while I was coming out of a war zone, members of the kibbutzim and moshavim below, where playing tennis or enjoying their Olympic pool. It seemed incomprehensible that while I was risking my life to protect Israel and “carry the burden”, these guys below were having a good time and enjoying life. Upon reaching home, I shared with my wife born and raised in Israel and, a fountainhead of what life in Israel is all about, my anger at having to “carry the burden” while those below were having a good time at my expense. She responded in her very Israeli vernacular “ your such an idiot, don’t you understand, they can play tennis or swim in the pool only because you are on the front lines, today it’s you and tomorrow its them, we all “carry the burden” for one another”.

The reserve pilot’s refusal to “carry the burden” unconditionally, and then use this refusal as insubordinate blackmail to advance a political agenda is very different from my own personal journey and insight into the meaning of what “carrying the burden” truly means. For most of us in Israel, we willingly and proudly “carry the burden” for one another. Israel’s success in overcoming the existential challenges of the past 75 years since her establishment is living proof of our mutual commitment for one another and ability to overcome internal politics and differences. No small group of renegade and privileged pilots will change the essence of a common destiny and future for us in Israel.