Diskin's Gun

The former Shin Bet chief in his comments Friday once again proved that in the new Israel, the old Turkish model prevails.

Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit
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Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit

On Friday, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin committed three grave acts: He knowingly hampered Israel's Iran strategy; he made a simplistic, incomplete and misleading statement about the nuclear threat; and he violated the norms in any Western democracy on the loyalty of senior civil servants. Diskin once again proved that in the new Israel, the old Turkish model prevails.

Certain army and police commanders think they're more worthy than the democratically elected leaders, so they don't hesitate to lay political bombshells at the leaders' doors. They're not afraid to carry out targeted media attacks. Even though our security technocrats' political acumen isn't always the sharpest, they act as if they've been entrusted by Divine Providence to save the country from its elected government.

Yuval DiskinCredit: Alon Ron

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Diskin is an Israeli who has earned his keep. He was an outstanding head of the Shin Bet security service who worked day and night in defense of the country and its people. But Diskin is also an aggressive man who acted brutally when he detained national security adviser Uzi Arad and when he pursued Haaretz journalist Uri Blau. This time, however, the aggressiveness of our No. 1 secret policeman was particularly foolish - it harmed the cause he was seeking to advance.

In his speech in Kfar Sava on Friday, Diskin tried to empty the ammunition from the Israeli gun threatening Iran with a military strike. But it was that loaded gun that made the international community impose a diplomatic and economic siege on Iran. So by trying to neutralize the military-option gun, Diskin actually increased the risk that the gun will be fired in the near future. Rather than making the prospect of an Israeli assault on Iran's Natanz nuclear facility more remote, he did the opposite.

Diskin, however, did stress a key issue in his speech: messianism. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are not messianic, despite what Diskin said. Quite the contrary. But the two men are dogmatically focused on a military solution to the Iranian nuclear challenge. They minimize the risks inherent in carrying out such an operation, and they haven't properly considered alternative solutions.

They give the impression they're locked in on a single course of action, which they're promoting while excluding all others. Such dogmatism should be a matter of debate and criticism. Yes, the critical question raised by Diskin should be addressed, but using a different approach. Netanyahu and Barak must prove they're not being shortsighted on the Iran issue and that they're thoroughly considering all the options.

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Netanyahu and Barak are paying the price for their past mistakes. Anyone who really understood the challenge posed by Iran would have taken three key steps over the past three years. He would have set up a national unity government, he would have launched a diplomatic initiative to give Israel diplomatic legitimacy abroad and national cohesion at home, and he would have prepared the home front and public opinion for the historic moment of truth.

Netanyahu and Barak did none of this. They are approaching this fateful junction as Israel is confused, fragmented and isolated. They are approaching the summer of a lifetime with a yawning gap between their conception of reality and the conception held by the international community, the Israeli military establishment and the Israeli public.

That's why crazy events such as Diskin's speech are occurring. That's why even more serious things could happen in the coming months. Even if Israel's leaders are convinced of their assessment, they have not been properly prepared to deal with the situation.

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