A prolific right-wing American Jewish commentator has called for Israeli Prime Minister Sharon to be court-martialed and “relieved of his command of the nation’s military.”
Emanuel A. Winston, a regular columnist for the Jewish Press, a prominent Orthodox-oriented newspaper in Brooklyn, issued his call for a military coup in one of the many columns that he sends out each week via mass e-mails. The Jewish Press, which bills itself as the largest independent English-language Jewish weekly newspaper, opted to publish a different Winston column in its June 24 edition because it could not countenance such a proposal, said the newspaper’s senior editor, Jason Maoz.
Winston’s coup proposal — and the decision of the Jewish Press not to publish it — comes as American and Israeli Orthodox opponents of disengagement in Israel are ratcheting up their criticisms of Sharon and his plan to dismantle all the Jewish settlements in Gaza, as well as four in the northern West Bank. As the rhetoric becomes more heated, Orthodox publications, institutions and organizations are debating the limits of legitimate opposition.
“The calling for the military coup is something we disagree with,” Maoz said. But he also said that the call for such a step was not grounds to discontinue Winston’s regular column.
“Calling for the assassination of an elected official would be in that realm,” Maoz said. “If someone wrote that in another press, not the Jewish Press, we would have to seriously consider terminating the relationship.”
Winston has a history of sending out provocative articles. He previously dubbed Sharon a “traitor” who is “in deep collusion with foreign governments.” Winston asserted that “Sharon has personally chosen to betray the Jewish nation.”
In an interview with the Forward, Winston said, “I think that [Sharon] has exceeded his authority and is now acting as the Great Dictator.”
Though Winston defended his recent column in the interview, he sent out a mass e-mail that he described as an attempt to clarify his views. “I was NOT recommending a violent overthrow of this Government,” Winston wrote.
In the column calling for a coup, Winston urged the Knesset to “terminate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s time in office.” Without Knesset intervention, he said, “it falls to the military to set things right.”
“This would include putting in Administrative Detention all those responsible for ruining the nation in all of her parts,” Winston wrote.
Winston appealed to the military, arguing that the army’s “motives can only be construed as preserving the nation and protecting her citizenry.” But previously he has suggested otherwise, painting the military as a training ground for left-leaning generals who eventually join the Labor Party.