Israel's Irrational Defense Establishment

There is no great measure of rationality in the way the heads of the defense establishment are conducting themselves, quietly serving irrational leaders and divulging the bitter truth to us only after they take off their uniforms.

It's safe to assume that when former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin spoke of the "two messianics" leading the country, what he really meant to say was that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are acting on irrational motives.

During this week's Independence Day celebration, Barak - who invented the image of Israel as a villa in the jungle - suggested the prerequisites for being accepted into the rational leaders club, insofar as rationality is defined "in the Western sense of the word." He explained that it isn't enough for rational leaders to be "sophisticated and calculating, aspiring to remain in power, and aiming for their goals with unending cunning while continuously gauging the steps and intentions of their rivals." They must prove, he said, that "they are seeking peaceful solutions to the problems on the agenda."

Barak was referring, of course, to the ayatollahs who rule Iran. It would never occur to any of our leaders to employ calculation and cunning to break up a party while remaining in power. We clearly have a government that has been turning every stone in search of peaceful solutions.

The following questions ought to help Barak determine whether he and Netanyahu are indeed worthy of the title "rational in the Western sense of the word":

Would rational leadership deny the risk that intensifying the occupation and freezing negotiations with the Palestinians - combined with the growing solidarity of the general Arab public with their brethren in the territories, the regime change in Egypt, and the increased pressure on Iran - might put an end to Israel's monopoly on nuclear weapons in the region (according to foreign sources, of course )?

Is it rational to ignore the possibility that a change in U.S. government and the rise in oil prices will generate international pressure on Israel to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and to eliminate weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East?

Would rational leadership toss out a peace initiative that has the support of all the Muslim countries, an initiative that offers our little state recognition within borders that will be accepted by the whole world, with some territorial exchanges, normalization and security arrangements?

Would rational leaders ignore the fact that the absence of a Syrian partner offers Israel an opportunity to come to a separate agreement with the Palestinians, without having to address demands that it give up the Golan Heights?

Does rational leadership - whose raison d'etre is to preserve its country's Jewish and democratic identity - spend massive resources dispersing its Jewish population in a manner that advances the post- or anti-Zionist concept of turning it into a binational state, or a leprous apartheid regime?

How rational is it to calmly accept the Knesset speaker's declaration that he would prefer a binational "Whole Land of Israel" to a Jewish state within the 1967 borders, while expelling foreign visitors who come to support a similar arrangement?

Would a rational leadership talk day and night about "Judaizing Jerusalem," while angrily attacking those who suggest returning to the West Bank the Arab neighborhoods that were annexed to Jerusalem after the Six Day War, and whose population constitutes a third of the city's residents?

Does anyone know a rational person who dares to seize his neighbor's land and then expects to find a judge who will take seriously his claims that expelling squatters from the property would have far-reaching social consequences?

Would a rational leadership gamble that the hybrid creature called the Palestinian Authority - which was meant to be part of an interim arrangement - will forever serve as the occupation's subcontractor?

What's rational about assuming that Greek taxpayers who can't make their own ends meet will pay the salaries of Palestinian teachers and policemen, instead of Israeli tycoons (the price, based on a cautious estimate, would be NIS 12 billion a year )?

The tragic failure of this test is not just the failure of Netanyahu and Barak; it is the failure of most of Israeli society. What's rational about "social leader" Shelly Yacimovich denying that there's a connection between peace and social welfare? The tens of thousands of Israelis who demonstrated to improve their quality of life, but who refused to say a word about life itself, are irrational men and women.

There is no great measure of rationality in the way the heads of the defense establishment are conducting themselves, quietly serving irrational leaders and divulging the bitter truth to us only after they take off their uniforms.

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