The Scapegoat

Israel Harel
Israel Harel
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Israel Harel
Israel Harel

Before and after he was fired, Udi Adam was said to be unfit for his position. Maybe. And what about the prime minister? The defense minister? The chief of staff? After all, it has now been 30 days, and their achievements are ghost towns in the north and hundreds of Katyusha rockets raining daily on Israel. There is also an expected Security Council resolution that will grant a moral victory, with strategic implications, to Hezbollah, Hamas and other terror groups and their patrons, Syria and Iran. And Adam alone is to be called to account?

What about the prime minister, who laid down the strategy for the warfare and decided on the political moves that led to this result? Even if, as he says, it was the army that set the strategy, he still bears responsibility. And what of the defense minister, whose main contribution can be summed up in a few arrogant slogans? He failed to rise to the requirements of his position, and is therefore respected neither by the public nor by the military leadership.

What about the chief of staff? Is he not supposed to know better than his militarily inept civilian bosses about strategy and the management of forces? Did his deputy, now parachuted in to save the day, not have anything to say before about how the war has been going? He is the most senior infantry officer on the General Staff and is supposed to know Lebanon well.

The Israel Defense Forces' leadership closely follows the most minute movements in enemy territory and intervenes when necessary in junior officers' considerations. It should be doing so all the more in a total war like this one.

Hassan Nasrallah's challenge in the north, and the abduction of Gilad Shalit and the incessant Qassam rocket fire in the south, have caused severe damage to Ehud Olmert's future plans and to the IDF's reputation. The commanders who planned the battle, which was supposed to restore Olmert's political maneuvering room and the IDF's deterrence - both strategic goals - were from the General Staff. GOC Northern Command Adam and commander of the Galilee Division Gal Hirsch ran operations, they did not initiate them. If they are to be held responsible for blunders such as the soldiers' abduction or throwing infantry troops into frontal battles, this should have been done immediately. Now, when the chief of staff is piling onto their their narrow shoulders cumulative failures for which he and his General Staff officers are responsible, is not the time.

The war's operative goals were laid down by the chief of staff; his deputy, General Major Moshe Kaplinsky; and the head of the Operations Directorate, Major General Gadi Eisenkot. The Northern Command was the contractor. And despite his ugly, transparent attempts to shirk responsibility and shift it onto the army, Ehud Olmert was the one who decided on the extent of this war. Behind him faltered Amir Peretz, and with them, giving them full support, came all the cabinet members.

They adopted the doctrine of relying on aerial force, which could not stop the rockets or break open the bunkers from which Hezbollah guerrillas are still fighting. Nor is Adam responsible for the fatal delay in mobilizing the reserves and sending them to the battlefield. This decision was made by Olmert and Peretz, together with the General Staff, where the main decision makers were Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and Kaplinsky.

Both the civilian and the military leadership bear responsibility for the unsatisfactory - to say the least - results of this war. And formally, the leadership may include Adam somewhere in the middle. But those at the top chose to cast him out, perhaps because of his humility and lack of charisma, like the scapegoat that used to be thrown off the cliff in ancient times. Thus, they think, the public will see him, not them, as the one responsible for the mess. But they are wrong. When the day of reckoning comes, as it will, the public will call them to account not only for their incompetence in running the war, but for their injustice to Adam.

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