If You Were Anat Kam

Kam may fall now, so may Uri Blau. But a day will come when their acts are seen in a different light.

Let's say the suspicions attributed to Anat Kam are true. On the basis of this assumption, let each one of us try to fill in the following scenario.

Imagine you are Anat Kam, a young soldier in the GOC Central Command's bureau. You serve coffee, transfer calls, document meetings. Unlike most people your age, you are also opinionated, maybe even conscientious, an even rarer facet these days.

Between coffee and phone calls you are exposed to meetings dealing with war crimes. You know, for example, that the High Court of Justice has ruled that wanted persons must not be killed if there is a way to arrest them. And lo, you hear the GOC issue an order to IDF soldiers to shoot down wanted men without trying to apprehend them, and even kill innocent people near them - if there is no choice. In some languages this is called murder.

What would you do? What should you do? Keep quiet? Forget? Do nothing? Swallow and focus on your next night out? Next date? Shame on you. And what would all those self-righteous commentators, sitting in television and radio studios asking why she did it, do in her place? Shut up? And what would the prosecution officials do, those who also swarmed to the media to wallow in Kam's acts and gush on about a life sentence, without saying a word - law keepers that they are - about the army's blatant law violation? Would they have kept silent too? Silence is collaboration with the crime.

And if you had decided not to keep quiet, what else could you do except bring the incriminating evidence to the public's knowledge, which is absolutely imperative in this case?

And what would you do if you were Uri Blau, a courageous investigative reporter, who received such material? Would you not publish it, after the military censor had approved it? A journalist who would not publish such things is no journalist. He would have betrayed his duty and his vocation.

To my regret I don't know Kam and Blau, but their principles and motives are quite clear. The charge sheet against Kam says her motive was "ideological." In good Hebrew this should be called "conscience." After all, had she exposed corruption in the Agriculture Ministry we would have applauded her. Had her name been Maya Koch, who exposed corruption in Tnuva, we would see her as a fighter for justice. So why is it permitted to expose corruption in Tnuva and forbidden in the IDF?

One may assume with certainty that Kam had no intention of harming state security. Had that been her aim, she would have found another recipient for the information she had, rather than an Israeli journalist subjected to censorship regulations. Blau too did not want to harm security. These two youngsters, each in his own way, wanted to contribute to the state. They saw evils and would not keep silent. This should be described and portrayed as patriotism and love of one's country - certainly more than sending soldiers to eliminate fugitives in cold blood.

Perhaps part of what these two youngsters allegedly did should have been done a little differently. Perhaps she shouldn't have copied 2,000 documents, if indeed she did. Perhaps they should not all have been kept in the computer. Perhaps the documents saying the IDF did the right thing should have been excluded. But for that you don't send someone to life in prison and you don't lynch them in the street.

After months of a dangerous cover-up, the cat is out of the bag. The defense and law enforcement establishments, which are one and the same here, not only want to keep security secrets, they want to take revenge on those who dared, allegedly, expose things that could shed light on the dark side of the IDF.

One would have expected Israeli journalists to appreciate their colleague's courage, as well as that of the soldier Anat Kam. Where from. They almost all joined the onslaught on the two, reciting in chorus the messages that the General Security Service fed them with.

One could also have expected someone from the State Prosecutor's Office to say something about the blood-curdling fact that the IDF gives patently illegal orders. Where from. Not a word from Assistant State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and the likes of him. They attack only the whistleblowers, shutting their eyes to the really big corruption.

Kam may fall now, so may Blau. But a day will come when their acts are seen in a different light. We will yet be proud of them. The blindness and silence that have fallen on the public and the media in view of their exposures are the real downfall.