The Israeli General Who Spoke the Truth About the Syria Strike's Timing

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Relatives of Lebanon's Hezbollah commander Mohamad Issa during his funeral, January 20, 2015. Credit: Reuters

Thank you very much, Yoav Galant, for one thing: that you spoke the truth. Thanks for saying that it’s possible that the timing of Sunday’s assassination of six Hezbollah militants, including Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the slain Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughniyeh, could be connected with the current Israeli election campaign (or as you put it, “not unconnected”).

Thank you very much for saying what you see, laying bare the cynical dimension of the assassination, even if in the process you have made yourself a target for pressure from the right wing. Thank you for explaining publicly how the system works that brings about an “inflamed situation on the ground” and an “escalation.” Thanks for enabling the public to see how extremists on the right are prepared to attack you, because when it comes to extremists, the meter is always on: After they expose the always-suspect, always traitorous “left,” they start setting upon people within their own camp. After all, in a nationalist, militarist regime, no one is entitled to speak their mind. Hence, thank you for saying things that permitted the public not only to see how military power is employed out of narrow interests, but also how a loss of democratic values can be no less dangerous for those with right-wing and security-oriented views.

Thank you, Yoav Galant, even if your comments were made because now you are running as a Knesset candidate (for Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party) rather than as a candidate for Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, which requires the support of the defense minister and prime minister. Despite everything, at the right time you revealed the system that brings about military action which ultimately poses greater danger to Israel than the benefits it provides.

Thank you for pointing out the way in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly gives his approval for assassination operations, which correlates with his own aspirations to be reelected prime minister on March 17.

“If you look at the last election, the timing of the targeted killing of Jabari wasn’t an event that could have been carried only on that date,” you told Channel 2 in reference to Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari, who was killed at the start of Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. “I was a command chief five years before that,” you said, “and there were many, many events and opportunities in which it was possible and necessary to [assassinate Jabari], and I also recommended such action. For some reason, it didn’t happen on those dates.”

It would be interesting if you asked yourself what would have happened if anyone else had stated the simple and rather obvious truth that you expressed. Let’s say a candidate from the joint Labor-Hatnuah ticket, Zionist Camp, as it is called, or, Heaven forbid, a candidate to its left had said the same thing. Or someone who, unlike you, had not been a candidate for IDF chief of staff, or had not, as you had, commanded a ship in Operation Show of Force that brought commandos to Tunisia in 1988 to assassinate PLO military chief Abu Jihad. One can only imagine the shower of scorn that would have greeted such a candidate if he or she had dared make such statements.

Even though you tried to backtrack a little the following day, and nonetheless came in for your share of criticism, I thank you, Yoav Galant. Because Netanyahu is currently busy trying to undercut the rising fortunes of Zionist Camp leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, along with his foolish efforts at portraying himself as Mr. Security, it’s very important for the Israeli public to know that military attacks, acts that inflame the situation on the ground, are connected to internal power struggles and electoral considerations. It’s a shame that this is the reality here, but it’s always helpful to hear it from one who knows.

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