Shooting Gantz in the Back a Second Time

Israel Harel
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Defense Minister Benny Gantz, left, on a visit to the northern border.
Israel Harel

Benny Gantz’s response to the ad by former defense officials calling on him to quit politics was “you’re shooting me in the back.”

If he were a man of truth, as he claims to be, and as those urging him to quit keep calling him fawningly, he would have told them: “This is the second time you’re shooting me in the back. First, when I doubted my political qualifications, you inflated my ego and convinced me, and then the public, that despite my inexperience I was the right man to lead Israel in this severe crisis. Now that this false presentation is staring you in the face, you didn’t spare the shreds of my dignity and fired a second shot.”

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Many Israelis were surprised when a venerable group of retired generals and public figures formed a political party around Gantz. The astonishment grew when other parties, led by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, joined it and agreed that Gantz, of all people, would lead the joint ticket, Kahol Lavan.

At the time, I spoke with some of the people who crowned Gantz, his former commanders. I told them: Your opinion of him, which I knew when you were still in uniform, wasn’t flattering. What changed? You’re leading him on, and in so doing you’re leading the public on.

They weren’t willing to admit that they were inflating a bubble. “People change,” they said defensively. “He’ll take shape on the fly.” And if he doesn’t? “We’ll look after him. We’ll guide him.”

The “Anyone but Bibi” media took his side. It was boundless, untrammeled devotion. Many of Gantz’s praisers in the media were lying to themselves and hid from the public that he was a weak man, lacking sound views, incapable of rescuing Israel from the deceptive and baneful ruler. From the days of glorifying the leaders who caused the Oslo disasters to the mass mobilization to whitewash Ariel Sharon’s sins when he uprooted the Israeli communities in Gaza, I can’t remember such herdlike, deceitful behavior in the Israeli media.

Ultimately, the inevitable happened. The Gantz bubble burst. Instead of taking responsibility, as befitting luminaries with a military, economic and media background, they’re placing the responsibility, shamefully, on the man who has no self-judgment, who was tempted to believe the accolades heaped on him.

I wonder what the columnists who not long ago lauded him and are now pelting him with invective are thinking. Did they really believe that in their exaltation and flattery they could leverage a weak man to become a leader? If they had a modicum of personal or professional respect they would have admitted their sin and asked for forgiveness for all they’ve done to him.

A number of those who signed the ad are honest people who were persuaded to join the herd. About a few of them, including my direct commanders, I can testify personally. In contrast, plenty of the others are serial signatories: erring, misleading and just plain wrong.

That’s the way they were when they signed mass ads saying that Yasser Arafat wanted peace, that a withdrawal from the Golan Heights would be good for Israel’s security, that leaving Gaza would end the missile fire from there once and for all, and that the flight from Lebanon would lead to Hezbollah’s disappearance – because it would no longer have a purpose. About the likes of these our sages said: the pot calling the kettle black.

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