He'll Shoot and He Won't Weep

From a moral point of view there is no difference between the "rightist" Halutz and his predecessor, the "leftist" Ya'alon. They are both responsible for the brutal policy against the Palestinians.

The appointment of Major General Dan Halutz to chief of the General Staff is the appointment of the right man at the right time. The Israel Defense Forces deserves a man lacking moral inhibitions, after three years' service by a chief of staff whose actions were characterized by very few moral inhibitions.

The protest on the left against Halutz's appointment was unnecessary, as was the storm that arose after his statement, apropos the dropping of a one-ton bomb on a residential house in Gaza: After this happens, he was quoted as saying, all he feels is "a slight tremor in the wing of the airplane." From a moral point of view there is no difference between the "rightist" Halutz and his predecessor, the "leftist" Ya'alon. They are both responsible for the brutal policy against the Palestinians.

In his statements, Halutz faithfully represents the policy in recent years of the air force and the Israel Defense Forces, which no longer has a place for moral statements in our war on terror. According to this policy, dropping heavy bombs on a house is a legitimate and just means, and killing innocent civilians, including children, does not at all resemble Palestinian terror.

This sanctimoniousness must come to an end. Therefore, a chief of staff like Halutz, who says what they really think in the IDF, is preferable to a chief of staff who hides behind the misleading pretension of morality, as Ya'alon does.

Why is it even important what a pilot feels when he drops a one-ton bomb on a residential building? As long as he does it, his feelings and his statements carry no weight whatsoever. Even if Halutz were to suffer in his cockpit, due to his victims, it would not matter. It would not matter from the point of view of the moral image of his air force, either.

The killing sown by the bomb that Major General Halutz ordered to be dropped expresses more than anything else what his "trembling wing" statement expressed. Anyone who saw the ruins left behind by that bomb, directed at Salah Shehadeh in the Daraj neighborhood of Gaza on July 22, 2002, and those who met the survivors the next day, was no longer interested in what Halutz had to say. Anyone who saw the splintered cradle of Ayman Mattar, whose tiny body was discovered only two days after the bomb landed, will not be comforted by any moral apology. Mohammed Mattar, who worked for 30 years in Israel, standing among the ruins of his home after he lost his daughter, his daughter-in-law and four of his grandchildren, and who himself was injured together with his three sons, would not be comforted even by a less arrogant commander than Halutz.

Anyone who saw the ruined apartment houses also knew that the IDF and the air force lied brazenly when they initially tried to publicize the claim that there were only "huts" on the site of the bombing; that it was impossible to know that people were living in them. The real moral image of the air force is reflected from among the ruins in the Daraj neighborhood more than all the statements of its commander.

It is therefore unimportant what Halutz says or thinks in his heart of hearts. It is important what he does. From this point of view, it may be assumed that he will be exactly as moral as his predecessor.

The fact that Ya'alon suddenly comes off as a moral knight in shining armor and the hero of the left is outrageous. During his tenure, the IDF policy toward the Palestinians was crueler than in the past. And surprise, surprise - the moment he was dismissed by the defense minister, the senior partner to this policy, the heads of the kibbutz movement, those bastions of morality, came out to protest the dismissal. And on this very page, Ya'alon was deemed by Ari Shavit to be "the chief of staff of integrity," no less (Haaretz, February 24). The man that was responsible for dozens of targeted killings, for the destruction of hundreds of houses and the imprisonment of an entire public, is described as a "man who embodies a moral Israel and an integrity that is now disappearing before our very eyes."

What morals are these? What integrity? What Israel?

This self-righteousness will no longer have a place with the appointment of a chief of staff who will not present an outwardly deceptive moral appearance. Halutz is not a kibbutznik from Grofit, not an ex-Nahal soldier, not an occasional dairy hand. He is a professional soldier. The time has come to shake off the weeping shooters, who enact a cruel policy and enjoy a humanitarian image.

Halutz will shoot and he won't weep, the kibbutzniks will not demonstrate for him and the pundits will not be able to describe him as a role model. It is better this way.

Halutz's appointment will therefore help rip away the remnants of the mask of morality that the IDF wears. When the man at the top of the pyramid is one who formulates his moral principles in such a callous and hard fashion, it will be very difficult for the IDF to continue holding seminars on human rights, human dignity and freedom and purity of arms, or to commission an ethical code from a philosopher.

Halutz's appointment, therefore closes a circle in the IDF. It will now be headed by a chief of staff who expresses the true moral image of the IDF in the most precise of words. Now belligerence and arrogance will speak, not only in the field, but in the chief of staff's office.