The Evangelical publication Christianity Today, in its much discussed editorial last Thursday calling for the removal of US President Donald Trump, quoted from an editorial it ran 21 years earlier calling for the ouster of then President Bill Clinton.Social intercourse, the magazine wrote, “is built on a presumption of trust: trust that the milk your grocer sells you is wholesome and pure; trust that the money you put in your bank can be taken out of the bank; trust that your babysitter, firefighters, clergy, and ambulance drivers will all do their best.” Those words came to mind Tuesday morning, when Guy Samet, the director general of the Environmental Protection Ministry, was being interviewed on Kan Bet's Kalman-Lieberman radio program about the decision by his ministry to stop – at the last minute – a long awaited initial test of the Leviathan gas extraction platform some 10 kilometers off Haifa's coast.That platform – necessary for the natural gas from the Leviathan fields to begin flowing – has been a source of friction and a legal battle with municipalities in the region, and their residents, concerned about the carcinogenic effects of the operation.Samet was asked how his ministry could be trusted by the public, since it first said that the platform was perfectly safe and that the emissions from it benign, and then just prior to the test – and as a number of people left their homes out of health concerns and to protest – stopped the operation and said that not all the necessary safeguards were in place.Why don't people believe the ministry, he was asked.“Why don't they believe us?” he replied. “The same question could be asked, why don't they believe all the government's institutions. I don't think we are any different from the other government institutions ... I know what the public's level of trust is. You can ask the public a general question, who believes the state, and the answer will be that no one believes anybody. I can't take responsibility for all of that.”And while Samet certainly does not bear responsibility for the lack of trust that has penetrated into the public, the situation he describes is dire.Trust is a cornerstone of all relationships, including that between citizens and the state. It is unhealthy for a state to be in a situation that Samet describes, where a lack of trust pervades.Which is why such a big deal was made recently when it was revealed that the IDF inflated the numbers of ulta-Orthodox enlisting in the army. Decisions are made based on an honest presentation of facts and figures, yet if the presentation of those facts and figures is dishonest, not only are faulty decisions made, but overall trust in the institution breaks down. And this is not a country with the luxury of not being able to trust its military.IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi addressed thus issue during a speech last week, saying that “presenting matters inaccurately is a violation of the contract of trust between the IDF and Israeli society, which entrusts the army with its sons and daughters.”Surveys have shown consistently that the IDF is the most widely trusted institution in the country, precisely – perhaps – because so many parents deposit their sons and daughters there, and want to sleep soundly in the belief that they are in good hands.According to the Israel Democracy Institute’s 2018 annual survey on the level of public trust for the country’s institutions, 78% said the IDF, followed by the presidency (61%), municipal government (53%), and the Supreme Court (51%).Less than half of the respondents (42%) said they trust the Attorney-general, and even less said the police (40%).And all of that was before the constant drip of leaks coming from the law enforcement organizations involved in the probe of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. All of that was before Netanyahu’s indictment, before he went on the offensive against the State Attorney and the police, and before he called to “investigate the investigators” and said he was the victim of an “attempted coup” – none of which, of course, increased the public’s faith in the judicial system. The least trusted institutions, according to that poll, were the media (31%), the government (30.5%), the Knesset (27.5%) and political parties (16%).And all that, too, was before the nation was dragged into three election campaigns in a single year, something that has had a damaging impact on the faith the country has in the political system.“Nobody believes anybody,” Samet said, in words he probably meant only hyperbolically. But there is a degree of truth to them, as the country today is facing a dangerous trust deficit – a deficit that the next government, when it is finally set up, will need to address immediately, since in an orderly and properly working state, everything begins with trust.