We can only speculate about whether Meir Dagan, ex-chief of Mossad (counterpart
to America’s CIA), and Yuval Diskin, exchief of Shin Bet (counterpart to
America’s FBI), are at all conversant with Oscar Wilde’s
wit. Unfortunately, we’ve no way to evaluate their erudition. But on the
off chance that they’re better- read than the average honcho, we might ponder
whether they subscribe to Wilde’s insight that “the only thing worse than being
talked about is not being talked about.”
Wilde’s dictum might go a long
way to accounting for Dagan’s and Diskin’s otherwise inscrutable gabbiness,
which might be no more than the product of an apparently uncontrollable urge to
generate headlines. This may be in keeping with a local penchant alluded to by
the colloquial Hebrew catchphrase for volubility: larutz lesaper lakhevreh. It
roughly translates to “run and tell your friends.”
But that may be no
more than an intricate ruse they want us to fall for. Their hypothetical
nothing-is-what-it-seems hoax could be in keeping with the Hebrew semi-slang idiom
hafuch al hafuch – literally “opposite on opposite”– i.e. not what you expect,
the opposite of what you assume, creating an impression that’s the opposite of
what immediately looks likely.
Both the above pearls of our insular
culture may contain some relevance to putting Dagan’s and Diskin’s spasms of
loquaciousness into some semblance of context.
It may well be that both
our former top guns are giving vent to run-of-the-mill run-and-tell inclinations
so pervasive in our minuscule milieu. Most our ex-generals and other security
services higher-ups find it hard to find themselves out of the loop.
undersized arena bursts with an overabundance of posturing Napoleonic knock-offs
– cocky military types and prolific know-it-alls – who presume to exclusively
possess what it takes to dictate Israel’s agenda.
bigheadedness, braggadocio and whatnot impel them to make noise hot on the heels
of their formal retirement. Paraphrasing Descartes, their motto appears to be “I
babble, therefore I am.”
But the “opposite-on-opposite” scenario is far
more appealing. Indeed, it’s downright comforting to believe that Diskin and
Dagan are sophisticated performers in a carefully scripted plotline aimed at
swaying the whole world to accept the authenticity of the very facade against
which they ostensibly squeal at the top of their lungs. In other words, rather
than hawk sour grapes, they’re in actual fact altruistic actors.
be reassuring to trust that these two aren’t cast in the mold of assorted
self-important omniscients who proliferate in our puny provincial pond, where
they’re prone to shoot off their mouths in the informal contest for which
proverbial rooster crows loudest.
It’s nice to imagine that the
proclivity to prattle is part of a grand cunning scheme, a clever disinformation
ploy to obfuscate, leave the enemy wondering, guessing and unsure, to throw the
whole watching world into a tizzy, to convince all and sundry that we’re led by
a trigger-happy lot.
The convoluted subtext is that, if not somehow
placated, we might nuke the neighborhood. This image could be essential
to induce fellow democracies to comprehend that something effective had better
be done about Iran because we’re losing patience with the international
community’s dalliance. The West’s inaction is liable to force us to step into
the breach ourselves.
Dagan and Diskin, obviously no novices in sly
stratagems, would be the wiliest choice to persuade the world to get on Iran’s
case because otherwise the field would be left to Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud
Barak, whom both exchiefs assiduously build up as a demented and dangerous
In crafty collusion, the two Ds hype the scary factor of Bibi and
Barak (the two Bs).
The supposed subterfuge might not be outlandishly
implausible, on condition we accept the premise that real life can be as
elaborately tricky as espionage yarns. Why else, we may be tempted to ask, would
the Ds choose this especially sensitive juncture for their frenzied verbal
By the scales of conspiracy theory devotees this cannot be
accidental timing. The Ds, moreover, were until recently the guardians of our
deepest national secrets. It’s more than a little unexpected for them, of all
ex-hotshots, to blab in order to carp.
Otherwise, how are they better
than Anat Kamm? For those who forgot, she’s serving time for having duplicated
2,200 documents, while she worked in the OC Central Command’s office as a young
conscript, hiding her haul, hanging on to it long after her discharge and
finally entrusting it all to Haaretz
reporter Uri Blau who absconded with
True, the Ds didn’t have to fiddle with computer files. But spilling
the beans is spilling the beans, the modus operandi notwithstanding. Even
staffers in private business firms must sign undertakings not to tattle about
confidential company data after their employment has ended.
Kamm, the Ds glory in the pose of courageous whistle-blowers desperately
defending the public’s right to know. Here too pseudo-moral narcissism is lauded
by this country’s domineering left-leaning media as the epitome of politically
correct bon ton.
Not only did the Ds, like Kamm, thumb their noses at
their elementary obligations, but their cheerleaders now tell us that, like her,
they did so out of conviction that they know best what’s best for us.
do they know better? Did they discover Gilad Schalit’s whereabouts for five
years right under their noses? Did they foresee a smidgen of the upheaval
misnamed as the Arab Spring? Their list of failures or not-quite-successes is
too long to inspire uncritical adulation.
We could kiss our national
interests goodbye if each member of our defense hierarchy – regardless of status
– were to decide that he/she is empowered to determine national policies and/or
subvert endeavors not to his/her liking. That may be precisely what assorted
varieties of leftist anarchists fervently desire. Their goal is to destabilize,
even abolish, all authority. To that end, the Ds, like Kamm a couple of years
ago, are an absolute boon.
The spinmeisters embraced Kamm as a youthful
idealist purportedly entitled to impose upon Israel’s democratic collective what
she deemed appropriate. These very spinmeisters now genuflect to the Ds’
They wouldn’t gripe without reason, we’re
told. But why did the Ds conceal their mistrust of the Bs for so long? If they
were certain that we entrusted our government into inept hands, why didn’t they
alert us earlier? Why did they keep working with incompetents for so long? Why
did they seek extended tenures and why did they accept them?
Why didn’t they
resign in protest in real time, which would have been the honorable move to
To grumble from the sidelines is too much like what many of us do in
Friday evening gossip and fix-the-world sessions. The Ds shouldn’t be
automatically absolved of all ulterior motives. They provided no proof, only
innuendo. The fact that the insinuations in question came from ex-big
wheels hardly renders them infallible.
The Ds don’t know anything more
than their erstwhile bosses. The Ds had already briefed the Bs on
whatever intelligence they gathered. If the two twosomes are indeed at
loggerheads, it can only be over differing analyses of said
information. Here the Ds’ opinion isn’t necessarily superior. It’s an
This is where things get dicey. Do the Ds really imply
that their opinion deserves to override that of members of a democratically
elected government? If so, they’re in effect suggesting that spymasters should
by right and rank call the shots or at least instruct the voters how to cast
their ballots. How will the Ds react if Netanyahu is reelected?
conceit, to resort to understatement, smells bad. The tendentious
commentators and talking heads who avidly boost the Ds need to think about the
ramifications of backing security chiefs over elected
Beyond this issue of elementary civic hygiene looms the
Iranian danger. If the tantalizing “opposite on opposite” twist of spy fiction
hasn’t bizarrely manifested in this particular tawdry episode, then Dagan and
Diskin are actually pushing us into a military conflict with Iran – the very
conflict against which they rail.
One of Netanyahu’s and Barak’s most
incontrovertible achievements is denting the indifference abroad to Iran’s
machinations. To no small measure this was achieved by the threat of an Israeli
preemptive strike. Winning the ear of the US and the EU is utterly indispensable
at this point.
Only concerted international action can replace an Israeli
attack. The international community will do nothing if it doubts our assessments
regarding Tehran or our determination to foil the ayatollahs.
irresponsible nattering weakens Israel’s cause overseas and thereby undermines
the likelihood that Iran’s nuclear project can be defused without use of force.
The Ds’ superfluous chatter jeopardizes the international coalition against
Iran, demoralizes Israelis and emboldens Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
acclaimed experts like the Ds fail to understand this? Or has frustrated
ambition and cynicism blinded their judgment?
If so, it’s time for us all to pay
heed to two more of Wilde’s peerless aphorisms: “Ambition is the last refuge of
failure” and “a cynic is one who knows the price of everything and the value of