In a meeting with reserve soldiers under his command, Brigadier General Aharon Haliva, the commander of a reserve division, said that the summer tent protest has hurt the army’s ability to conduct training. According to a report in Israel Defense, Haliva said:
Because you went out to protest in the summer, the defense budget suffered cuts, and we don’t have the money to fire missiles in our training.
When the reserve soldiers protested, Haliva asked them not to leak his words to the press, Israel Defense reports.
To be sure, I don’t think that the J14 protest led to a substantial change in the IDF budget. Israel is sliding towards an economical slowdown that is more than anything a result of the international financial crisis, and the defense budget was not the only one to suffer. At such moments, it is not uncommon for the army to announce cuts in the most urgent or sensitive needs – civil defense, training or soldiers’ transportation – in a bid to put public pressure on the Treasury.
On a deeper level, one could trace here the challenge the rights-based discourse of J14 poses to the security-oriented debate that is so dominant in Israel. Even during the summer protest, when Israel launched its attack on Gaza, there were already calls to stop the protest; as Israel is nearing general elections, we will probably witness more attempts to remove the social protest from the national agenda in favor of “more pressing” threats, and most notably, Iran.