The images of the conflict between the settlers rebelling against the government and Israel's security forces have diverted attention from a much quieter drama that was taking place at the same time this week: the emergence from behind the scenes of the man who ostensibly has been pulling all the strings of this spectacle from the beginning, like the Wizard of Oz.
Suddenly - out of nowhere - a new strategic genius has taken center stage, a man who is being introduced as one of the most brilliant men the Israel Defense Forces has known since Ehud Barak and Amos Gilad. This man is Brigadier General (res.) Eival Giladi, who today bears the title of director of the Strategic and Coordination Staff in the Prime Minister's Office and has connections with a foundation that makes investments in the region.
The officer, who became famous about a year ago as the man who threatened to go to Damascus and "throw Assad out of there," has suddenly been revealed, with great fanfare, to be one of the "founding fathers" of the disengagement plan. Or at least so the PMO's office would like us to think.
And in fact, in a series of fluent and brilliant public appearances, Giladi has rejected the argument that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan was hurriedly patched together to ensure his personal and political survival. Also, his appearances have created the impression that surrounding Sharon in general and this plan in particular are teams of "the best and the brightest" of the type who surrounded late-U.S. president John F. Kennedy, rather than the vague ideas formed in the head of Sharon advisor Dov Weissglas during his early-morning shave.
Employing a series of logical, almost mathematical formulas, Giladi explained the paradigms at the basis of the "stabilizing step" that provides the "Archimedean balancing point" among "three vectors" that provide an "adjustment of parameters" of "returns and profits" - or, in short, what goes by the vulgar name of "the disengagement plan."
In other words, don't let the chaotic scenes seen this week in Kfar Maimon mislead you. The shouts, the tears and the confusion created an impression that this is another mess, but the impression is mistaken: Behind all this lies pure science.
The paradigm presented by Giladi sounds convincing and in any case, fresh and different. He says that during the past decade, Israel tried in two diametricly opposed ways to come to an agreement with the Palestinians: through negotiations, where it turned out that every concession only led to a new outbreak of terror and more demands; and through mutual pounding, in which revenge-attack follows assassination in an endless cycle. Both ways have failed, and this means that the solution is "the third way": stabilization, slowing down, hunkering down behind more convenient lines.
In addition, two options have become bankrupt: doing nothing and taking steps parallel to Palestinian steps. This is the source of the "third option": "to act, to initiate, to do something unilaterally, and it makes no difference what the Palestinians do."
Eival says that two guiding beliefs have collapsed as well: "territories for peace" and "peace will bring security." Since it's impossible to give up the first idea, Giladi is announcing the birth of a new belief: "First of all peace, and afterward territories."
As mentioned, these explanations sound so fresh, logical and convincing, that's it's amazing that Sharon himself hasn't spoken about them publicly; perhaps he feared that he would become confused by all the paradigms. If the new guiding belief arouses slight skepticism even when coming from one of its architects, it's because it is so orderly, so logical, so Pythagorean; in short, it does a splendid job of confirming the truism that everything in the IDF is divided into three parts.
It apparently is a human - and especially an Israeli - tendency to assume that in the cosmos, as a default, there are always three conceptions - three options, three ways - and that the third is of necessity the redeeming one, if only because of fatigue and disgust with the other two: If two have failed - the third will succeed.
But who said that there are only three? Maybe there are five, seven or only two? And what are they? And maybe we missed the previous options? Whatever the case, whether the disengagement plan is based on a Pythagorean theorem or on Bentzi Lieberman's quantum theory - it is clear that any connection to science or logic is well concealed.
In reality, more than behaving rationally, we are simply falling forward: We wanted a third way and an Archimedean point vis-a-vis the Palestinians - and we got a semi-suicidal trance on the part of the settlers, a battle between "the Jews" and "the Israelis," a war over democracy and a stygian stream of false hopes - both on the part of the left, which expects additional withdrawals, and on the part of Sharon, who vainly expects to be exempted from more withdrawals.
Mathematical vectors or no, Israel will apparently leave the territories more or less as it entered them: with a blow, with a sob and just by chance; with a huge number of contingency plans, but without the key to the file cabinet.
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