The whole country is seething over the Anat Kamm affair, and only one man will decide how it can end: the director of the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin. If Diskin determines that Kamm and Haaretz journalist Uri Blau should be punished severely, that is what will happen. If he decides they should be forgiven - so it will be.
The prosecution and the courts will accept his decision in a frighteningly automatic manner, the government and the opposition won't open their mouths, the media will cheer, and public opinion will either have nothing to say or roar belligerently. That's the way it is in a Shin Bet state, that's how things go in Diskinland.
At first, Diskin handled the case "with silk gloves," as he defined it; then he decided "to take off the gloves." It's a matter of mood. When he was in good humor and still wore silk, Diskin suggested that Blau return all the documents and not be prosecuted. When he threatened to take the gloves off, nobody asked what he meant.
Was he thinking of abducting Blau in London? Perhaps he intended to have him assassinated? The head of the Shin Bet threatens a journalist, and it's business as usual, nobody says a word.
Nobody got into a tizzy after these brutal words were uttered, nobody even asked what exactly Diskin was getting at. Nobody even bothered to ask if it was in fact the Shin Bet that broke into Blau's apartment and ransacked it.
Does the Shin Bet burglarize journalists' residences? Hello! What kind of country are we talking about here? Have we returned to the days of Isser Harel, who at David Ben-Gurion's behest kept politicians and journalists under surveillance?
And what about the disclosure by Aluf Benn in yesterday's Haaretz that President Shimon Peres, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had in the past instructed the Shin Bet to do the same to members of the Progressive List for Peace? Should we forget how this same organization behaved in the Bus 300 affair? How its members smashed in the skulls of captive terrorists and then had the audacity to try to pin the blame on Yitzhak Mordechai, a highly respected officer at the time.
But let's leave Diskin and the shadowy spy agencies out of it. They are responsible for security, and perhaps they even have the right to do what they do. Where are the checks and balances that are supposed to prevent the Shin Bet from acting arbitrarily?
When Diskin gave the signal, the prosecution stood to attention. The prosecution toes the line by condoning and obeying; it came up with an indictment charging Kamm with aggravated espionage, with the possibility of life imprisonment, nothing less.
The court zealously toed the Shin Bet line as well, imposing a protracted and ridiculous blanket gag order. The media, too, immediately aligned with the Shin Bet, almost to a man.
That's the way the incitement campaign began against Kamm, Blau and Haaretz - you document thieves and endangerers of security, you traitors you. But the real betrayal has been that of the journalists, who have betrayed their profession - journalists who take sides with the security apparatus against colleagues who are doing their job bringing light to the dark. The outcome has been fraught with disaster: A democracy as fragile as ours, with such a limited and distorted grasp of the role of the media, is a fertile breeding ground for a general systemic breakdown.
If it depended on public opinion, Kamm and Blau would be executed and Haaretz would be shut down on the spot. The general who gave the assassination orders revealed by Kamm and Blau has come out of the affair unscathed, while the journalist and his source are enemies of the people.
This turbid wave has been greeted by a thundering silence. The prime minister, who calls himself a democrat, has said nothing about the affair, and neither has the defense minister. Not a word from ministers Dan Meridor or Benny Begin, also democrats in their own eyes.
The opposition? Don't make Tzipi Livni laugh. Former Supreme Court presidents Aharon Barak and Meir Shamgar? They and their colleagues, who mobilized the struggle against what they perceived as justice minister Daniel Friedmann's threat to democracy, have not said a word against the threats posed by the Shin Bet.
Only the president of the Press Council, former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, has stood up on her own.
Now we can only hope that Diskin will back down and that this unfortunate affair will end with a whimper.
But if his aggressive impulses overcome him and he decides to carry on without his famous silk gloves - the ones he wore when he was the tough regional director of the Shin Bet in Nablus known as "Captain Yunis" - then Kamm and Blau can expect a bad and bitter fate. In Diskinland, the only democracy in the Middle East, all that's left to do is to pray that Diskin finally comes around.
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