Netanyahu and Obama in Washington .
(photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
The whole world and the universe around it have been preoccupied these past
weeks with Israel and Iran. President Barack Obama’s speech to the 14,000 AIPAC
delegates in Washington on Sunday has been analyzed and counter-analyzed to the
last comma. Pundits, real mavens on the subject, speak about payloads and
missions on chat shows like they were discussing golf scores. Everyone is
focused on Iran, and everyone knows better than everyone else.
I, for my
part, have been reading as much as I can on the yet unreleased state
comptroller’s findings into the Harpaz Affair. I don’t know if the Israel Air
Force can strike Iran or not. I don’t know if Obama is good for Israel or not. I
don’t know if a duck quacks or not.
What I do know from what I have read,
however, is that only a miracle can save a country where the chief of staff does
not speak to the commander of the southern front; the defense minister does not
speak to the chief of staff; and the bureau of the defense minister and that of
the chief of staff declare themselves to be in a state of war and start
collecting black (dirty) intelligence on each other and their bosses. This when
they are supposed to be dealing with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas and are
responsible for handling a massive segment of the national budget, not to
mention for the lives of our children.
The litany of sorrows portrayed by
the state comptroller’s report into this sorry affair pale, however, when added
to the confessions of Uzi Arad, the former national security adviser, about his
unhappy years in the Prime Minister’s Office, and the revelations that have
followed the recent mass resignations in the Prime Minister’s Office after
Binyamin Netanyahu was forced to fire his most trusted and senior aide for
Here we see infighting between the prime
minister’s military attaché and the head of the National Security Council and
viperous attacks on each other. Instead of cooperating, the heads of
these two functions saw each other as mortal enemies, spied on each other and
played power games by calling security meetings behind each other’s backs and
whispering poison into the ears of their superiors.
We see how the head
of the secret service was coopted to humiliate, intimidate and ultimately get
rid of one of the prime minister’s most trusted advisers, through allegedly
deviously planted fictitious charges, mainly, it transpires, because the man had
fallen out of favor with the prime minister’s wife. The reports generally make
Machiavelli look innocent when compared to the goings on in the prime minister’s
inner circle, and reveal a security community totally preoccupied with defeating
each other, and not the enemy.
It would be trite of me to say be worried,
but I say so wholeheartedly. Stop looking at the faults in Obama’s speech, or
listening to the business-class-class analyze what the Israeli army can or
cannot do, and look at the people we have making the decisions. They all deserve
a good kick in the backside. The chutzpah of it all: the chief of staff’s bureau
spying on the defense minister, and the army’s representative in the Prime
Minister’s Office dedicated to undermining the National Security Council coming
of age as required and deemed by law.
How else to look at this other than
as an attempt by the military to subvert democracy, to take over command from
those charged by the electorate with exercising it? As for the secret service
being used as an instrument of political intrigue, who knows where this could
end and what blind path this could lead us up?
The clear lesson in all this is
that something is very rotten at the top of the pyramid. Power has become more
important than country. A leader sets the tone. If he lets it be known that he
is open to intrigue, likes gossip, can be swayed, he sets ground rules for the
type of mind-numbing behavior that has come to light in recent weeks. If he sees
himself as a team leader, projects that those under him are expected to play
together for the benefit of all, then that is what he will
Obviously, from what we see, those serving on Netanyahu’s team have
a long way to go, as does their captain. Let’s hope that the game lasts
long enough for them to realize they are kicking into their own goal, our goal,
before it is yet again too late for anything but recriminations.
no matter how hard our friends try, we always seem to be our own worst enemy.
Until now we have managed to get away with it. But with the stakes having gone
nuclear, the rules have changed, and we can only pray that those at the top have
realized it.The writer is a senior research associate at the Institute
for National Security Studies and the author of
The Anatomy of Israel’s
Survival, the winner of the 2011 National Jewish Book Award.