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The corruption manifest in Israel society and its leadership is more worrisome than the Iranian nuclear threat, former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon said in Jerusalem on Monday.
"I lose more sleep over the corruption in the country than from the Iranian bomb," Ya'alon said at a conference on the country's leadership crisis organized by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.
He added that while Teheran's nuclear program was an external threat that was being addressed by Israel and the international community, the internal threat posed by corruption threatened to "spread like cancer and kill" unless it was exposed.
The former army chief, who is expected to enter the political arena in the future, said Israel faced a "leadership crisis" as a result of the moral and professional failings of the political and military echelons.
Ya'alon, who has repeatedly called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to step down since the Second Lebanon War, blamed the problem on the country's leaders, who, he said, represented a political culture that lacked basic norms and values.
He cited four "centers of power" with a secondary role in corrupting society: those who try to acquire power and influence the media using money; the Israeli media, which he said was "mostly shallow, superficial, manipulative and lacking in credibility"; the spin-masters, experts in manipulating the media; and the Supreme Court, which had overstepped itself by taking authority in areas were it has no jurisdiction.
He criticized the culture of quick fixes and instantaneous solutions, saying that the demand for "Peace Now" - like the demand for "Messiah Now" - was unrealistic, foolhardy at best and dangerous at worst. What was needed, he said, was a change in moral culture, and educating youth to that end.
"This is a war of light on darkness," he said.
Ya'alon's tenure as chief of General Staff was marked by a successful crackdown on Palestinian terrorism, and his very overt falling out with then-prime minister Ariel Sharon over his opposition to the premier's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
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