By Mick Krever, CNN
Avraham Burg is many things: an observant Jew, a decorated paratrooper, the former speaker of the Israeli parliament. But over the past decade he has transformed himself into something surprising: a dissident.
“Mine is a call for changing direction,” Burg told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “Do we want to be like the Crusades, with high walls and whomever comes to the walls, we shoot them down till eventually this kingdom expires?”
The Arab Spring (or Arab “Awakening,” as he calls it – “spring is too short of a season”) has, Burg says, given an opportunity to Israel to integrate itself in the Arab world. That, he said, is something Israel “never explored.”
Within the state of Israel, Burg thinks that extreme religious views are becoming more powerful than the commitment to democracy. Ultranationalists and militant politicians have hijacked the political narrative, Burg says, and become even more Hawkish than the Israeli military itself.
For the first time in 2,000 years, he said, the Jews and Israel are empowered by an army, an air force, and nuclear weapons – “it’s unbelievable.” But for “too many Israelis,” the military “became the essence rather than just a service to something else. And we've forgot to ask ourselves what is the something else.”
CNN’s Ken Olshansky produced this piece for television.