A History of Forgeries / A Coup in the Kirya

If the reports are true, 'Galantgate' was a coup by a military faction against the elected civilian leadership.

If media reports are verified and the Galant document is truly a forgery, the IDF's top officers should stage a coup. They should rise up against Ehud Barak to prevent Yoav Galant's appointment as army chief, and perhaps even force the resignation of the defense minister himself.

The situation must not be sugarcoated. If the reports are true, this was a coup by a military faction against the elected civilian leadership. Barak acted within his authority in choosing an army chief of staff. Certain individuals who disagreed with his intentions sought to bring him down by forging a document and leaking it to the press on the eve of the appointment.

The names of those suspected of forgery have yet to be released, but the little that is known is already cause for concern. Amos Harel reported on the Haaretz website yesterday that IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi had obtained the so-called Galant document several weeks before its release, but kept it in his desk drawer without reporting anything to Barak or launching an inquiry into who wrote and leaked it. The army chief's omission testifies to the military's deeply rotten state.

Over the years, Ashkenazi has earned a reputation as an honest commander, but one who never forgives a breach of trust - a characteristic that led him to fire two brigadier generals, Moshe Tamir and Imad Fares, after they were caught lying about relatively minor matters.

Now, the same Ashkenazi found himself in possession of a document purporting to show the improper influence of public-relations consultants in choosing his successor, and didn't do a thing.

Had Ashkenazi thought the matter was a mere trifle, a prank perhaps, he would have thrown the document in the trash. Instead, he held on to it, only later providing it to police investigators. What was he planning to do with it, use it later on against Barak and Galant? Who else saw the document, spread rumors about its existence among the top brass, and ultimately gave it to the Channel 2 commentator Amnon Abramovich?

Barak casts himself as victim

Since the contents of the document were released 12 days ago, Barak has maintained that he is the victim of a political targeted assassination. The document's leakers, he said, wanted his head - and hoped a police investigation would delay or even thwart the appointment of the next IDF chief of staff.

The document's release, and Barak's destructive testimony before the Turkel Committee several days prior, creates the impression that the defense minister's impressive career may be plodding toward an ignominious end.

And Ashkenazi, who just last week was presented as the big winner in the affair, now looks like the consummate loser.

Forgeries within the army leadership have been seen before. Fifty-five years ago Military Intelligence forged documents and testimony to pin responsibility for an intelligence fiasco on then-defense minister Pinhas Lavon. Despite the dubious nature of the suspicions against him, Lavon was removed from his position.

The discovery of the forgery several years later, and Lavon's campaign to clear his name, created a firestorm that led to the downfall of none other than David Ben-Gurion.

If the current suspicions are verified, the Galant affair could prove to be just as historic as its predecessor a half-century ago.