The Harpaz affair is full of distracting elements. The amount of material that has been leaked and published since August 2010 when the story broke, and even more so after publication of the state comptroller's draft report in March of this year, has made it difficult for a reasonable person to understand exactly what happened between two of Israel's most important bureaus: that of the defense minister and that of the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff.
But beyond the mountains of material, no matter how complex or how much they advance one party's interest or another's, a clear picture emerges: Over an lengthy period, the defense minister and the chief of staff and their aides were engaged in an attempt to destroy each other.
A lack of faith, deep grudges and ego struggles are the key components of the Harpaz affair. The secondary questions, which amount to wondering "who is the bad guy," unjustifiably overshadow the realization that in one of the most critical junctions for Israel's security, too many people were preoccupied for too long with issues that were too unimportant. This was an ongoing failure that could have resulted in the army and the defense establishment functioning poorly in wartime. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's lack of involvement in what was happening is in the realm of negligence.
It is not by chance that the parties' versions of events are murky. The purpose is to keep the key people in the affair from having to give an accounting. An ostensible symmetry has been created between the parties. For every transcript that reveals a problematic link between former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi's aide, Col. Erez Weiner, and Boaz Harpaz, a harsh quote by Ashkenazi is published about Defense Minister Ehud Barak's conduct. For every testimony by Barak's bureau chief, Yoni Koren, regarding the paranoia that gripped him while he was living under surveillance, a version by Weiner appears about Koren's aggressiveness.
The battle of the versions, brimming with disinformation, might increase following the unnecessary gag order issued last week. However, the picture that emerges from the Ashkenazi camp, with its potentially criminal materials, as well as that emerging from Barak and his people, whose conversation recordings were erased due to a technical error, justify State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss' demand that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein launch a renewed criminal probe of the affair.
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