Don't Leave It to Barak

The defense minister loves to play games. Now he's playing with the major generals as if they were tin soldiers.

At this point, it's not clear who is responsible for the revealing document that Amnon Abramovich disclosed on Channel 2 news, but one thing is absolutely clear. The document exists. Someone wrote it and others read it. Someone thought there would be interest in the advice it contains. And now they have to find out who that someone is.

Maybe the minister himself did not sit in on the meeting of advisers, but a culture of mudslinging and denying prevails in his office. It won't be too complicated an investigation.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Olivier Pitussi

The riddle over the document will be solved, but in the meantime it's apparent that things are being handled as the professional advice suggests. They are interviewing five candidates for Israel Defense Forces chief of staff rather than three to confuse the enemy, meaning us.

And the current chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, is being portrayed in the media as someone chronically offended, to denigrate him and his tenure in office. But wasn't it said that this chief of staff transformed the IDF beyond recognition after the Second Lebanon War?

There has been ugly competition in the past for the post of chief of staff, but nothing like this. This time Defense Minister Ehud Barak himself is wallowing in the muck. Every time he repeats his public praise of Ashkenazi, one can only guess about the extent of the conspiracy going on behind the scenes. An ill wind prevails over the army's top command. We shouldn't be told that it's business as usual.

Barak wants to wear more than one hat. He wants to be the mature, responsible minister imparting his wisdom on his reckless cabinet colleagues.

He also wants to be a senior chief of staff who always knows better than those serving under him. And he has two major exploits of bravery and wisdom to his credit: By land, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and by sea, the Turkish flotilla operation.

We have Hamas on one side and Hezbollah and Iran on the other, but more than anyone, the people harming the Israeli public's feeling of security are those in charge of defense. A dangerous leak follows a malicious leak, and "strategic advisers" on salary or working as volunteers have infiltrated the system, deliberately stirring up infighting.

The entire ritual of five candidates being interviewed to find a chief of staff is unnecessary. It is only meant to show who's in charge here. One might think Barak is meeting these major generals for the first time, as if he didn't know them and wasn't aware of their talents despite their years of work together. It's also unnecessary because the process has already been fixed.

The lot has indeed been cast, but the minister loves to play games, and now he's playing with the major generals, too, as if they were a collection of tin soldiers. He's playing with them and they will entertain him. The appointment of the next chief of staff is too serious a matter to be entrusted to such a defense minister.