Opinion

Could Israel's Next War Be Connected to the Bribery Recommendations?

Well, we tell ourselves, even cynical Netanyahu wouldn't risk our lives just to stop some investigation – even one that could put him in prison

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tour Israel's northern border with Lebanon, October 23, 2017.
קובי גדעון / לע"מ

It’s unpleasant to have to interrupt the considered political assessments and the barbed comments directed at Iranian President Hassan Rohani, pardon the disturbance. I’ll be on way momentarily, but first I’d like to ask: Is it possible that the intensity of the attack depends on the gravity of the investigation? Might the next military operation have a connection to the recommendations of the police? (Airstrikes ahead of the attorney general’s decision are something I don’t want to even think about.)

I know there’s talk of this on Facebook, but Facebook isn’t the television commentators on television: the ones in the know, who speak with the regional commander three times a day. Come on, they say, you care about that? Why mix wars with suspicions. Questions about the connection, they say, only detract from the purity of the analysis and the perfection of the commentary. Give us briefings, give us backgrounders and aerial photos. Don’t bother us with did he steal or not, did he bribe or not. Only junior commentators ask them, Tell us, is there a connection?

With questions like that, they say, go talk to Yossi Verter. They’re not from the United Nation. When there’s shooting, they put on the khaki. They’re spokesmen, not journalists. Journalists have many, they have only two: They get military assessments from the army and political assessments (“Smash in their faces? No, no, let’s go with ‘bomb them back to the Stone Age’) from the government. Show me one who ever said: Sorry, but the army made a mistake. I’ve yet to see any of them say it was wrong to attack and that there was a choice.

We’ve never believed this government, and there’s no reason we should believe it now. “Now there is no opposition or coalition, no religious or secular. ... Now we are all one nation, in uniform. Quiet, we’re shooting.” So wrote the late journalist Amiram Nir during the first Lebanon war. Who knows how many soldiers died because of that quiet, how many could be saved if they were to break it today.

No one wants to release the genie of a military decision made out of personal hardship. This is quite understandable. Just imagine if it were true. Imagine someone proves the connection between the police recommendations and the war rumblings. Imagine new recruits hearing about it on the news, on the way to the induction center.

It’s difficult to pin down such a connection, cloaked in so many layers of “intelligence” and “political sources” and “violation of sovereignty” that it’s impossible to bore through them all to uncover the truth. The possibility that young people could die as a result of somebody’s personal problems is so terrible that such thoughts are quickly suppressed.

Well, we tell ourselves, even wily, cynical Bibi wouldn’t go that far. He wouldn’t risk our lives just to stop some investigation, yes, even an investigation that could oust him from power, even put him in prison. There’s a line that can’t be crossed. And even if he were to come close to that line, there would always be somebody — the chief of staff, or even Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Lieberman!) to pry the phone from his hand, gently take his elbow, lift him from his chair and lead him to the couch, to calm down a little.

Lieberman might do it. But not TV military correspondent Roni Daniel. He wouldn’t waste his petrifying gaze on the possibility of a connection between the military and the political.

Alon Ben-David wouldn’t sully his splendid baritone in the political muck. They’re not into lawyers, they’re into generals. The generals leak to them the army’s multiyear plan, and the analysts mention the generals’ names ahead of the next round of officer assignments. That’s the way it works in peacetime, and it always stops in war. It works when there’s sexual harassment or when Haredim complain about female soldiers. It works with the small things and it stops with the big things. It gets stuck on that annoying question: Is there a connection?

That’s when our military analysts remain silent. They join the electronic campfire discussing the “escalation” and “tension in the north,” in the hope of reviving the dying consensus, and if only a rocket would land somewhere during the news broadcast and keep everyone from dying of boredom. This is the friendly and innocuous media that Bibi claims is persecuting him. This is the media in which Tali Moreno puts on a warm sweater and “goes out to the field.” There’s the media and there’s journalism. The media is the analysts and Danny Kushmaro. Journalism is Raviv Drucker and Amnon Abramovich. Please don’t confuse the two.