If Peres Is Right

The top brass are viewed as a giant tree under whose shadow alone the public is prepared to shelter.

There was something surprising about the report that Israel had bought 20 F-35 Stealth jets at a price of about NIS 10 billion. We had naively thought we already had a complete squadron of stealth evaders that no responsibility radar would ever be able to detect. They would always succeed in evading it without harm.

But behold, an expert, a dairy farmer from the Arava, has for some time now been warning us of the existence of a nest of vipers in the Israel Defense Forces' headquarters complex. They crawl around in the grass - where is the sergeant major? - and bite indiscriminately.

Why does no one take responsibility and hoe the area to uproot the wild weeds? Why can one still see people walking around there in regular shoes and even sandals? What exactly are they waiting for - the next disaster?

Only the president refuses to get excited, proposing that we keep our cool and see things in proportion. This is the man who has seen everything. There have been intrigues and plots before, he says. He reserves his excitement for himself, for his frequent birthday parties.

If Shimon Peres is correct - and he is someone in the know - then it is easy to explain how wars broke out here and how they ended, and how heroes lost their lives. This problem of many years' standing, which is accompanied by small consolation, is a recipe for all-out war.

It is difficult to paint a group portrait of the generals in active service, and those who have retired, without causing harm to someone. There were and still are exceptions, over whose heads will appear the words "for purposes of illustration." But a quick glance at Ariel Sharon, Ezer Weizman, Ehud Barak, Moshe Levy, Shaul Mofaz, Dan Halutz, Yoav Galant and many others suffices to see that 10 measures of vituperative manipulation descended on the world and nine were taken by them, the very people entrusted with manning the walls of our security.

Compared with them, the "civilian" cabinet ministers, who also are not exactly a flock of sheep, look like lethargic lizards, snoozing and basking in the sun. Were those who wear and then take off their uniforms to use this kind of trickery when making war against our enemies, rather than against our own forces, we would not need another war or two to win a final victory.

If this is the case, if this is a true picture of the urges and filth that, of all things, they do not seek to conquer, whence springs the belief that most of Israel's citizens have in the IDF and those who come from it? After all, every public opinion survey indicates that the top brass are viewed as a giant tree under whose shadow alone the public is prepared to shelter.

Two springs feed the relative popularity of those involved in security. The first is the extremely poor public image of the politicians: It is solely on the ruins of their image that the generals' image is built.

The second is our general feeling of having gone astray, a feeling of helplessness and loss of control, and the need to pin our hopes on someone: If there is no one, whence will come our help? If we cannot rely on the people's army and its commanders, then we are left with nothing to rely on but our father in Heaven.

Let's not pretend. Don't tell me you have not recently heard the question - what will be? - in your own circle, but with one significant difference: not "what will be?" but "Will we continue to be?" And "everything will be fine" is no longer an answer. Don't say you have not asked yourselves that same question.

So put your mouth where your heart is and say it out loud. Perhaps out of revulsion and protest will come resurrection.