|Avnery at a demonstration.|
The following is part of Uri Avnery's "A Putsch Against War" piece, May 5. Our reference to this column is out of respect for him as an intelligent observer, but should not be read as an endorsement for all his views:
.... IT STARTED with the most unlikely candidate to lead such a rebellion: the ex-Mossad chief, Meir Dagan.
For eight years, longer than most of his predecessors, Dagan led the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service, comparable to the British MI6. (“Mossad” means “institute”. The official name is “The Institute for intelligence and Special Operations”.)
Nobody ever accused Dagan of pacifism. During his term, the Mossad carried out many assassinations, several against Iranian scientists, as well as cyber attacks. A protégé of Ariel Sharon, he was considered a champion of the most aggressive policies.
And here, after leaving office, he speaks out in the harshest terms against the government’s plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations. Not mincing words, he said: “This is the stupidest idea I have heard in my life.”
This week he was overshadowed by the recently relieved chief of the Shin Bet. (Shin Bet and Shabak are different ways of pronouncing the initials of the official Hebrew name “General Security Service.”) It is equivalent to the British MI5, but deals mostly with the Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories.
For six years, Yuval Diskin was the silent chief of the silent service. His shaved head could be seen entering and leaving meetings of secret committees. He is considered the real father of “targeted eliminations”, and his service has been widely accused of extensive use of torture. Nobody ever accused him of being soft on Arabs.
And now he has spoken out. Choosing a most unusual venue – a get together of some two dozen pensioners in a small-town cafe - he let fly.
According to Diskin – and who would know better? – Israel is now led by two incompetent politicians with messianic delusions and a poor grasp of reality. Their plan to attack Iran is leading to a world-wide catastrophe. Not only will it fail to prevent the production of an Iranian atom bomb, but, on the contrary, it will hasten this effort, this time with the support of the world community.
Going further than Dagan, he stated that the only factor preventing peace negotiations with the Palestinians is Netanyahu himself. Israel can make peace with Mahmoud Abbas at any time, and missing this historic opportunity will bring disaster upon Israel.
As chief of the Shin Bet, Diskin was the No. 1 official government expert on Palestinians. His agency receives and collates all the evidence, spy reports, interrogation results and information gathered from listening devices.
Leaving no room for doubt, Diskin said that he knew Netanyahu and Barak from close up, did not trust them and thought they were unfit to lead the nation in a crisis. He also said that they are deliberately deceiving the people. He did not omit to mention that they live in extreme luxury.
Anyone who thought that these accusers were lone voices, and that the whole choir of current and past security chiefs would rise and condemn them unanimously, was disappointed. One after another these experts were quoted by the media as agreeing with the two in substance, though not necessarily on their style. Not a single one questioned their assertions or denied what they said.
The current Chief of Staff and the Mossad and Shin Bet chiefs let it be known that they share the views of the two on Iran. Almost all their predecessors, including all the recent military Chiefs of Staff, told the media that they agree, too. Suddenly there was a united front of experienced security leaders against a war with Iran.
THE COUNTER-ATTACK was not late in coming. The entire battery of politicians and media hacks went into action.
They did what Israelis almost always do: when faced with serious problems or serious arguments, they don’t get to grips with the matter itself, but select some minor detail and belabor it endlessly.
Practically no one tried to disprove the assertions of the officers, neither concerning the proposed attack on Iran nor concerning the Palestinian issue. They focused on the speakers, not on what they said.
Both Dagan and Diskin, it was asserted, were embittered because their terms of office were not extended. They felt humiliated. They are venting their personal frustration. They are speaking out of sheer spite.
If they did not trust the Prime Minister, why did they not get up and resign while they were in office? Why didn’t they speak out before? If this was a matter of life and death, why did they wait?
Alternatively, why don’t they continue to shut up? Where is their sense of responsibility? Why do they help the enemy? Why don’t they speak only behind closed doors?
Diskin, it was added, has no idea about Iran. It was not in his area of responsibility at all. Dagan knew about Iran, but had a limited view. Only Netanyahu and Barak knew all the facts and the entire spectrum of opportunities and risks.
Sources “close to the Prime Minister’s office” also had another explanation: Dagan and Diskin, as well as their predecessors, were just stupid. Taken together with Dagan’s and Diskin’s assertion that Netanyahu and Barak are not rational (and perhaps not quite mentally balanced) this means that our national security depends entirely on a group of irrational and stupid leaders – and that this has been the case for years.
A frightening thought: what if everything they say about each other is true? ....