Did Harpaz Really Act Alone?

Closing the Galant document forgery case has not cleared the air; Boaz Harpaz should be allowed to expose the truth.

James Lee Rankin, general counsel for the commission investigating John F. Kennedy's assassination, said after the Warren Commission released its report that the commission members had expected skeptics to question their conclusion that Harvey Lee Oswald was a lone assassin, leaving ample room for conspiracy theories.

"What can you do?" Rankin may well have said to himself. "Our scenario has holes in it, but all the alternative scenarios we considered had more holes in them. So until proven otherwise, Oswald acted alone."

In Israel, Yoav Segalovich, a major general in the police force, found himself in a position vaguely similar to Rankin's yesterday.

Segalovich confirmed the findings of the investigation into the Galant document: Boaz Harpaz acted alone to forge a letter purporting to show that Yoav Galant was seeking assistance from media consultant Eyal Arad in his candidacy for Israel Defense Forces chief of staff. At the moment, there is no evidence to contradict that statement. There are suspicions, assumptions, questions and speculations that IDF officers say have not been looked into (such as who authorized Harpaz's entry into the offices of senior officers, since the rank of lieutenant colonel in the reserves is not enough to get in ).

After police determined that the document featuring Arad's logo had been forged, they chose to ignore IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi's request to find out whether the substance of the letter was also false. Unlike Harpaz, Ashkenazi is not alone. Many top IDF officials are convinced the truth has not been revealed. If Harpaz signs a plea bargain, their fears that the real story is more complicated than a one-man job will intensify. They will see Harpaz as more than a charlatan who likes hobnobbing with VIPs and sucking up to them, as something beyond a gossipmonger who masterfully pasted together the not-quite-secret tidbits he had gathered.

They may be wrong, but the atmosphere in the IDF will not clear up as long as senior officers remain convinced that Harpaz obtained the material from those in the know, and is keeping his mouth shut to avoid admitting an offense worse than forgery (theft? wiretapping? ). Or perhaps he was promised money to keep mum.

Harpaz did not intend the forged paper to reach the media. After all, its publication is what triggered the investigation that led to the exposure of the forgery and the forger. The forger did not know the document would be published, and the person who led to its publication (indirectly and implicitly, through Gabi Siboni, a colonel in the reserves ) did not know the document was forged. The result was a chain of errors, a series of basic assumptions that went unconfirmed. Anyone who popped up on the radar of the detectives investigating the case was hurt. Such people were summoned to make a statement to police, and their names were released to the public.

The Harpaz story is not the private business of Gabi Ashkenazi, Ehud Barak or Yoav Galant. Closing the case hasn't cleared the air. The defense minister and chief of staff are only the peak of a large hierarchy, team leaders whose underlings' confidence in them is essential.

In this context, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot's refusal to serve as deputy chief of staff is significant. Eizenkot is one of the few senior officers on the track to chief of staff of whom one is entitled to believe that his ethics are stronger than his tactics. His display of no-confidence in Galant is guided by an ethical consideration rather than a self-serving one. If he has no confidence in Galant, but isn't saying why, what will officers and soldiers think of their new commander?

Harpaz should be indicted, but the authorities should also allow him to speak openly to Ashkenazi without fear that what he said could be used to incriminate him. If the IDF and the chief of staff are indeed dear to Harpaz, let him expose the truth. He, unlike Oswald, is in a position to do so.