A dark pit
The new IDF chief of staff must handle courageously the blight that has spread among senior officers.
The pit - as the Defense Ministry war room is called - is a dark hole. Even without reading Dan Margalit and Ronen Bergman's important book, it is clear that at the bottom of the pit lie questions the IDF has not answered for six months.
How is it possible that the chief of staff's office gathered intelligence about the defense minister's office? How is it possible that the chief of staff's office made corrupt use of a corrupt document it received from a corrupt officer? How is it possible that the chief of staff did not tell the general staff the whole truth? How is it possible that the IDF was dominated by norms of extreme double standard? How is it possible that a poisoned air of unbridled intrigue prevailed in the IDF leadership? How is it possible that to this day former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has not stood before his soldiers and civilians and given them a true account of the severe moral failure that reigned in the senior command in the past year?
At the bottom of the pit lie tough questions the defense minister has not answered for six months. If indeed a putsch took place in the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, why didn't the defense minister come out openly against it? If Gabi Ashkenazi acted like Douglas MacArthur, why didn't Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu act like Harry Truman? Why wasn't Ashkenazi fired? Why wasn't a state commission of inquiry set up? Why did the defense minister fight the former chief of staff under the table and behind the curtain instead of coming out and telling the public the truth?
At the bottom of the pit lie tough questions the attorney general and military advocate general have not answered for the past six months. Why didn't the military advocate general order an investigation by military police? Why did the attorney general limit the police inquiry into the Harpaz document affair to an investigation of forgery and nothing beyond that? Why wasn't the suspicion that general staff officers had conspired to force their will on an elected government investigated? Why was nothing said about certain members of the army's top brass gathering slanderous material about their rivals? Why didn't they stipulate that the former chief of staff's conduct was tainted with serious moral flaws? Could the attorney general and military advocate general's judgment have been clouded by their proximity to some of the Harpaz affair protagonists?
At the bottom of the pit lie tough questions the media has not answered for the past six months. How is it possible that senior journalists were partner to Boaz Harpaz' and Ronit Ashkenazi's little H.Q.? How is it possible that prominent members of the news media who had a hand in presenting the public with a false picture did not check themselves and admit their mistake? How is it possible that the obvious questions raised in this article are being asked consistently and firmly by only five journalists in Israel?
Does the repugnance felt toward the defense minister justify the leniency toward the army's blatantly undemocratic conduct? Does the loathing felt toward the rightist government justify turning a blind eye to senior officers' attempt to rebel against it? Is it conceivable that democracy's watchdog eat Bonzo Dog Food from the IDF spokesman's mess tin? Is it plausible that the media cooperate with a corrupt army that has grown confused and is acting outside its jurisdiction?
This has been a festive week. Maj. Gen. Ashkenazi received the honor he deserves in a series of state ceremonies. Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz was hailed with the expectation that he would bestow on the IDF the values he emanates - stability, integrity, calm. But stability, integrity and calm cannot be based on a lie. The carcass at the bottom of the pit cannot be buried. To heal the IDF, all these parties first need to admit that something very serious happened here in the past year. To rehabilitate the IDF, they must first answer all the questions that have not been answered yet.
The State Comptroller must act fearlessly and without prejudice. The police and Shin Bet must expose the relevant information they have. But above all, the new chief of staff must handle courageously the blight that has spread among senior officers. Gantz's first mission is to bring the IDF back to its values and barracks.