It has often struck me as odd and fascinating that there seems to be more tolerance of dissent and debate over Israel’s policies in Israel than there is in the U.S. Congress. It’s especially striking that this is the case even in wartime, or in the immediate aftermath of war.

Unit 8200 is the Israeli military’s central intelligence gathering body and is often likened to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

The protest letter signed by the [forty-three past and present reservists]…of the unit was sent to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and armed forces chiefs.

The newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth quoted the letter as saying that unlike in other countries there was “no oversight on methods of intelligence or tracking, and the use of intelligence information against the Palestinians, regardless of whether they are connected to violence or not”.

“We refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as a tool for deepening military rule in the Occupied Territories,” the letter added.

“Intelligence allows ongoing control over millions of people, thorough and intrusive monitoring and invasion into most aspects of life. All of this does not allow for normal living, fuels more violence and puts off any end to the conflict.”

Here at home, it’s hard to imagine that degree of dissent coming from our intelligence community. Although I do have to give credit to those officials who threatened to resign when the NSA warrantless surveillance scandal first broke. And we certainly don’t see our elected officials agreeing with Israelis who refuse to participate in military rule in the Occupied Territories.

Here, we just don’t debate these things.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at