An Apolitical Animal? There's No Such Thing

We should know the opinions of the chief of staff before he is appointed, rather than having them be muddied.

Shock, surprise: Prof. Yehezkel Dror has political opinions. This sensationalist revelation about a member of the Winograd Committee immediately became one more weapon in the hands of commentators, politicians and self-proclaimed "apolitical" protests that sought to make one final effort to resuscitate their moribund movements. Indeed, here is yet another scoop: The other committee members also have worldviews, and even solid political opinions. Would it be conceivable for Ruth Gavison to have no political opinions? For Haim Nadel to have no worldview?

Of course they have political opinions - they just haven't voiced them. So, what would we rather have: hidden, concealed, camouflaged, political views, or proper disclosure, free speech and clearly postulated positions?

Having a political opinion has become a slur in these parts. The fashion now is to keep one's distance from all things political. But politics is what shapes our lives and determines fates: life and death, war and peace. A person with no political opinions, especially in Israel's demanding and turbulent reality, cannot hold a public position. But we want our judges, our analysts, our generals, the members of our committees of inquiry and even our newspaper readers to be free of all political opinions. There is no such animal. Every thinking individual - even great and lofty ones - has well-developed political opinions, and God save us from the ignorant, the illiterate and the complacent ones who are not "political."

In the United States, which we are so fond of imitating, Congress holds a hearing for all Supreme Court judicial candidates and asks them about their political views. Why? In order to know who will be sitting on the bench. We, too, deserve to know what Elyakim Rubinstein thinks about the settlement enterprise in the territories, what Salim Jubran's position is on abortion and what Dorit Beinisch thinks about international law. Only thus can we evaluate them in the proper light. American-style judicial appointment hearings should have been instituted in Israel long ago. Instead, we get justices in costume: They have political opinions but appear not to. It's an optical illusion.

The thought that their opinions do not affect their judgment and rulings is a fiction, too, just as much as neutrality and objectivity are. The fact that they do not express their views does not reduce their legitimate influence on their decisions. The only reasonable expectation should be that they be honest about it, and not allow their rulings to be in service of their opinions.

This does not apply only to judges. Every Israel Defense Forces general has political opinions, as do all the military commentators who are constantly being invited to present their "professional" opinion, which is ostensibly separate from their political opinions. There is no such thing. When the experts advocate going into or leaving Gaza, bombardment or restraint, they do so from within their worldviews. When Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Yaakov Amidror expresses his opinions on military issues, they reflect his right-wing perspective. There is no point in hiding it. This was true while he was still serving in the Israel Defense Forces. When Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh was GOC Central Command, his opinions colored his decisions. Shaul Mofaz, Moshe Ya'alon, Avi Dichter and Jacob Perry made decisions as IDF chief of staff or Shin Bet head in light of their worldviews, even if they openly declared them only after they left the job.

Had we known at the time about Ya'alon's right-wing opinions and Mofaz's unenlightened views, we could have judged them properly. We should know the opinions of the chief of staff before he is appointed, rather than having them be muddied. Their successors are political animals, too. We will only learn this, much to our regret, after they are discharged. We demand the impossible even from our readers, that they be synthetic creatures. Only the recently retired Haim Yavin gave some expression to his worldview, which made him our best anchorman; the same is true of Yaron London and Moti Kirschenbaum.

The time has come to tear away the deceptive camouflage. With his statements, Dror has provided a good opportunity for doing so. He expressed his views, which in any event influenced his contribution to the examination committee. In this, he did nothing wrong. It can only be hoped that we can trust his honesty, that he did not allow his views to distort his impressions from the committee's meetings.

This holds for his committee colleagues as well. The fact that they are silent admittedly helps us to delude ourselves into thinking that these beings are so lofty and exalted that they are "apolitical," but there is nothing to it. Their silence only enhances their false charm. Is everything political? Yes, everything is political and it is best if we are aware of it in time.