Comment: Peretz's whitewash attempt

Shahak is one of the worst possible job candidates, not only because of involvement behind the scenes.

August 17, 2006 23:50
2 minute read.
Comment: Peretz's whitewash attempt

Peretz soldiers 298.88. (photo credit: Defense Ministry)


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On the face of it, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak is an outstanding choice to head the commission appointed by Defense Minister Amir Peretz to investigate the IDF's preparations for and handling of the war. He is a former IDF chief of General Staff, Knesset member and minister, and now a captain of industry. Who has a more suitable resume to take all the elements into consideration and draw valuable conclusions? But as more details come out on the commission's plans - including a six-month timeline and an extremely limited mandate - it's beginning to look like a pathetic attempt to whitewash the campaign's mishandling. Peretz's commission seems to prove the words of British writer and politician, A.P. Herbert, who said that commissions are appointed, "not so much for digging up the truth, as for digging it in." Shahak is actually one of the worst possible candidates for the job - if one believes that the war's less-than-successful outcome should lead to serious thinking about how the IDF prepares itself for war. This is not only because he was personally involved behind the scenes, as a member of Peretz's unofficial team of advisers, but also because of who he is, an integral part of the old Israeli establishment. Shahak was one of the founders of the short-lived Center Party, and for a while thought himself a potential prime minister. In his own eyes at least, the ex-paratrooper, a recipient of two medals of valor and a media darling, embodies all that was once pure and exalted in the good, old Israel. Shahak's image is pristine - but there is little innovation behind it. At the time, he was regarded as a genius and a charismatic chief of General Staff, but after he left the army, people suddenly realized that Shahak had changed very little, if at all. Upon entering civilian life, Shahak enlisted as a senior member of the anti-Netanyahu camp. It wasn't a matter of ideology: the prime minister who was seen as a threat to the elite's old order was Shahak's natural enemy. There is no reason to believe that he has changed since then, either. Shahak is still inherently adverse to change. He will not be the one to rock the boat. From his days as a cadet at the Haifa military academy, Shahak was led to believe that he was building the foundations for Israel's defense and future. He still sees himself as a founding father and he's going to do nothing to shake those foundations. Claims by reservists and officers that the IDF was pitifully prepared for a large-scale emergency call-up not only cast a question mark on what Lt.-Gen. Shahak was doing 10 years ago, when the equipment was already moldering away in emergency storage, they are also a personal affront to the establishment, of which he's a senior member. In a period when a president and a justice minister are being investigated for sexual misconduct, and chief rabbis and generals are suspected of financial impropriety, the last thing anyone needs is too many awkward questions about the war. Shahak is the safe pair of hands for the job. He'll apply whitewash in straight lines.

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