The past six days, from the release of the state comptroller's report on Yoav Galant until yesterday, should be taught in crisis management courses on what not to do, how not to do it and when not to do it. In the brief period between the report and the attorney general's decision, the political-military establishment made every mistake possible and the general confusion grew stronger, deeper and even more confused.
On Thursday, when it was already obvious to anyone with a brain that Galant would not be the next chief of staff, the major general behaved like a satellite cruising through outer space, totally out of touch with events. So did Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who recommended Galant for the position, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accepted the recommendation and brought it to a cabinet vote.
They dug in deep, trying to bend reality to their will. They allowed the embarrassing saga to drag on to its predictable conclusion. As in any Greek tragedy, the end was clear in advance. And only the dramatic leads, together and individually, failed to take the necessary action to change the ending.
Galant proved to be a person who can invade territory but can't retreat in time. Had he read the situation accurately he would have announced, even before the decision by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, that he was quitting. He could have explained that it was a matter of responsibility, of proper conduct and concern for the state. In an instant, everything would have changed. It was hubris that caused a respected general, a warrior whose contribution to the state was significant, to leave the stage in disgrace, besmirched, tarred and feathered.
Netanyahu and Barak are a different story altogether. Their uniquely strong personal-political bond, which presumably grew stronger after Barak left the Labor Party and swore eternal fealty to Netanyahu, played a central role here.
We can't know for certain what they say during their interminable private conversations, but it's a pretty sure bet that the one who gets the prize for stubbornness, unresponsiveness and sheer perverse obstinacy is Barak. These characteristics, which led Netanyahu to admire Barak ever since they served together in the Sayeret Matkal special-operations force, are what led them to these depths of disgrace. One can assume that this nightmare will mar their relationship somewhat.
It's impossible to take leave of the Galant affair without a nod to MK Michael Eitan (Likud ), who 22 months ago was named minister without portfolio, the pettiest of petty cabinet ministers, in the Netanyahu government. After great effort, a title was found for his non-portfolio: minister for improvement of government services. Eitan, the only cabinet member who voted against Galant's appointment, made the entire affair his baby.
He investigated and questioned and examined and found, he collected evidence and statements and documents and photographs and concluded that Galant was unworthy to be chief of staff. With characteristic stubbornness (stubbornness has its good points ), he nagged the state comptroller and the attorney general and demanded justice. Eitan's justified crusade has made him the government's most prominent member. Don't mess with him.
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