Netanyahu cartoon
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When Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister again after 10 years in exile, his foolish and diminishing group of followers presented him as an example of a righteous man who fell and rose again; a comeback. A year and a quarter went by and it turns out this is no comeback, but rather a talkback.

A one-man response team. The world acts, and Netanyahu mumbles. Zero initiatives, lots of desperate running to catch the tail of reality. Rather similar to Mehmet Tubal, the captain of the Mavi Marmara - theoretical master of his ship, practically speaking - a pawn.

That is true for the peace process, for the closure on Gaza and for the investigative panel into the flotilla affair, which Netanyahu was dragged into appointing. And it appears again in the Immanuel school segregation affair.

Common to all of these is the political desire to dodge responsibility. Ahead of the anticipated great tests against the settlers and their supporters, this is a recipe for anarchy and under extreme circumstances - if the government's leadership continues to be weak - for management of the country by a junta: Legal, democratic, obeying the court, not interfering in politics, but still, professional officers and not an elected leadership.

When the politicians were struck dumb by the Immanuel affair, the Israel police stepped in to enforce an order of the High Court of Justice with the approval of the attorney general; and it did well. Police Commissioner David Cohen himself commanded the operation (code-named "Final Verse" ), which crossed districts: Jerusalem, the West Bank, Tel Aviv, the traffic division, Border Police, the operations division, the intelligence branch - 10,000 police facing off against 100,000 or more protesters in more than one locale. The last time the police commissioner took direct command was the visit of Pope Benedict XVI last year.

Against a backdrop of ultra-Orthodox protests in Jaffa over supposed desecration of graves and the High Court ruling stopping subsidies to yeshiva students, the police swiftly organized throughout the country to handle disturbances of the peace by Haredim, who constitute nearly a tenth of Israel's population, more than half a million people. It is not only Immanuel; it is also the protective shell around the mother who allegedly starved her child and the father who allegedly killed his baby.

"Recent surveys by the Public Security Ministry and the police reveal a problem regarding the willingness of the Haredi sector to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities," in dealing with criminal acts within the sector, the police journal reported recently.

The journal also wrote on the results of "a study of the extent of crime in the Haredi sector," focusing on the Haredi city of Elad, in comparison to a non-Haredi community served by the same police station, Rosh Ha'ayin, which resembles Elad in size.

The research found that in the last decade Elad has seen "a marked rise in all crimes studied," particularly assault (11-fold ), spousal abuse (20-fold ), and crimes against children and so-called 'defenseless people' (18-fold ). Youth offenses have also increased (18-fold ) as have sexual crimes (8-fold ). In Rosh Ha'ayin, there has been a decline in most types of crime, with the result that the Haredi community now has by far the higher crime rate per 1,000 residents.

The community and its rabbis protect offenders. And why should they not, when Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar are afraid to fire Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush, who protects those in contempt of court from Immanuel?

A similar message seeps down to soldiers: You are alone. Like on the Mavi Marmara, like on the self-destructing tape in "Mission Impossible," the ministers will disavow and deny. A study of the Altalena affair by officers of the Israel Defense Forces General Staff behavioral sciences department, published by the Defense Ministry's publishing house; the evacuation of Yamit in 1982 and the evacuation of Gaza and the northern West Bank in 2005, all reflect concern over the abandoning of junior officers and enlisted men.

The cumulative lesson indicates that in future evacuations of settlements it would be better for company and battalion commanders to reach unofficial arrangements to excuse soldiers who oppose the mission, so as to prevent mass refusal of orders and the collapse of units.

"Civil war is unacceptable, but the IDF might in the future find itself threatened by domestic factors and respond accordingly. The responsibility for making the decision is at the political level," the behavioral science officers warned in their study.

Government in Israel is crumbling, and as long as its leaders are silent and paralyzed, the slide into chaos will never truly end.