General Elections

Not two, but three birds with one stone: a chief of staff, a kibbutznik and a dairy farmer. But at the ranch a lamb can be carried on your shoulder - with a cow it's much harder; that how a charming picture of compassion is spoiled, one that conveys a folksy image and social sensitivity to sheep and cattle.

For months we have been holding our breath - will they join or won't they. At first they play "hard to get," with the left hand rejecting and the right beckoning, and only in the end are they placated and come running in hordes. The ship is overloaded and liable to sink due to a security overload; then people will once again become mice.

What is the secret of their charm and wherein lies their great strength? It already looked as though their glamour had dimmed somewhat, and suddenly they are enjoying a revival. Is the disgust with professional politicians restoring the halo to the generals? Is the disappointment with civilian Amir Peretz renewing their days as of old? Does our lameness when it comes to security require the acquisition of crutches? Does rejection by Sharon bring along with it approval from Netanyahu?

Once again politics are filling up with former wearers of uniforms, and the general staff is filling up with politicians in khaki - veterans are signaling the way to their successors. Political parties are becoming an induction base without processing for those being drafted into their second career. This is a bakum, an induction and placement base, with a vacuum: People from the fields of education, welfare, health and culture have been sucked into it and ejected from it.

The list is long and growing: Bogie Ya'alon, Ami Ayalon, Shaul Mofaz, Uzi Dayan, Yossi Peled, Ehud Barak, Matan Vilnai, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (with a guaranteed slot), Effi Eitam (still searching), Avi Dichter and Gideon Ezra and Israel Hasson (Shin Bet security service), Assaf Hefetz and Yitzhak Aharonovitch (police), Aryeh Bibi (Prison Service), Miri Regev and Nahman Shai (military spokespersons). The notebook is still open and the hand is becoming tired of writing. There will never be a military coup in Israel; a de facto military government makes it superfluous.

Most of them are people of all seasons, of all opinions, of all parties - and that is their charm. After all, most of the public also lacks a consolidated viewpoint, and public opinion is a weather vane. How nice and pleasant, therefore, to opt for wherever the wind will be, wherever the wind is blowing, to be blown away.

Not only they. The parties themselves are a mixed multitude, and it is hard to differentiate between them. Colorless frames call for featureless faces to be hung prominently on unadorned walls.

Why should they, the people from the security forces, run around among the market stalls? On the contrary, let them arise and establish a party of their own, an Israel Security Party, and the group picture will be revealed in full: All the losers from the first and second Lebanon wars and the period between them; all those who lost the battles against the glorious armies of Hamas and Hezbollah, against the advanced technology of the Katyusha and Qassam rockets.

And the new party has a ready-made platform: Combine the Agranat Report and the Kahan Report and the Winograd Report, prepare a concentrate from all three and serve it to the voters.

Last July Barack Obama visited Iraq. The commander of the U.S. forces, General David Petraeus, warned him against a hasty withdrawal. Obama listened politely and said: "If I were in your place I would say the same thing as you are saying. That is your job as the commander on the ground. But my job as president, as the supreme commander of the armed forces, is to take into account other considerations, far more comprehensive than yours."

That's how it is in America and other properly run countries: National security is too complex and serious an issue to be left in the hands of Petraeuses and Bogies.