Yossi Melman / If I were Uri Blau, I'd report to the Shin Bet
In the Kamm affair, everyone has gone too far out on a limb and is having trouble backing down.
Over the past 30 years I have been questioned three times by the police over information I received and then published in Israel. On one of the occasions, officers from the London police participated in the questioning and asked me whether I had received secret information from an officer from MI6, the British secret service.
I reported for all the interrogations. It was not pleasant. They were lengthy, and the questions were probing. Now and then the interrogators hinted that I could expect severe punishment. I refused to reveal my sources, and I asserted that I had acted within the law and performed my journalistic duties as is customary in a democratic society. In the end, even the interrogation was not so terrible.
This is what I would do if I were Uri Blau. It also looks like this is ultimately what will happen. An arrangement will be found to enable him to return to Israel. He may be summoned for questioning, and he will return the documents he received from Anat Kam in his capacity as a journalist.
This outcome could have been achieved several months ago. Evidently, in the Kamm affair - which certain people are trying to transform into the Uri Blau-Haaretz affair, due to extraneous and perhaps even hostile interests - everyone has gone too far out on a limb, and is having trouble backing down. This story contains excess emotionality, pride, prejudice, vengeance and ego, and there are too many honor games.
I have no doubt that Shin Bet security service head Yuval Diskin is feeling wounded and believes Blau is toying with him. However, his hurt feelings do not entitle him to hint that in the future, the service will be more heavy-handed with journalists. A free media is the oxygen of a democracy and an important element in Israel's security, no less so than the Shin Bet.
Haaretz may have to conduct its own reckoning in the wake of how the affair has been handled. The newspaper erred by letting the reporter and his attorneys decide which documents to return. However, ultimately, let there be no confusion: Blau did his work properly. His exposure of suspicions that the Israel Defense Forces top brass ignored High Court instructions was important, and its publication was appropriate.
Kamm, a young soldier, was motivated by a sense of mission and wanted to expose what she believed were illegal acts. A number of democratic societies would laud her as a whistleblower. In Israel, regrettably, the majority of the public perceives her as a traitor.
Kamm erred and she deserves punishment. She admits this, and so do her parents. However, to accuse her of high treason with the intent of harming the state's security is madness. Is handing information to an Israeli journalist equivalent to the high treason committed by Prof. Marcus Klingberger and Col. Shimon Levinson, the security officer in the Prime Minister's Office who spied for the Soviet Union, or to Nachum Manbar's sale of materials to the chemical weapons industry in Iran?
There is an uncomfortable sense that the defense establishment abuses the weak and glosses over leaks by top people like prime ministers, cabinet ministers and IDF generals acting to advance their own political or personal interests. And the list is long: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while he was opposition leader, Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, former Military Intelligence head Eli Zeira and more.
It appears that the IDF information security department and the Shin Bet, with the help of the State Prosecutor's Office, are behaving overzealously and out of a desire for revenge, because Kamm has exposed in all its inadequacy the information security system in an office as sensitive as that of the GOC Central Command.
All the elements involved should calm down, act with the necessary proportionality and draw from this affair all the necessary conclusions, of which there are many.
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