Israel Should Listen to Former Shin Bet Chief Diskin

Usually it's the Shin Bet that eavesdrops on others. This time, the people should give a listen.

The counterattack by Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak on Yuval Diskin was expected, both in substance and in style. The prime minister and the defense minister were stung by his sharp criticism and quickly attributed it to the personal motives of the Shin Bet security service's former chief.

This is a typical case of the pot calling the kettle black. Politicians think first about their jobs and only later about their views. What Barak and Netanyahu said about each other when they were at loggerheads was no less scathing than what Diskin, former Mossad head Meir Dagan and former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi have said about the two of them.

Yuval Diskin
Alon Ron

What Diskin says is extremely important. In the six years that ended last May, Diskin headed the Shin Bet, the agency responsible for dealing with the Palestinians both politically and security-wise. So there is great significance in his words: "Forget about the stories they're selling you that Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] doesn't want to talk. They're not talking to the Palestinians because this government has no interest in talking to the Palestinians."

Diskin's comments peel off the government's mask - that it's constantly striving for peace but coming up against opposition from the other side. Diskin's remark about the Arabs of Israel - "Israel has become more and more racist in the past 15 years" - is also worrisome when uttered by the former Shin Bet chief.

His warnings on these two issues, which we heard when he was in office as well, are a call for an immediate change in the Netanyahu-Barak government's policies. This is especially the case because Barak last year forecast a heap of trouble with the Palestinians ("a tsunami" ). Even though this hasn't proved true, a crisis will occur in good time.

Even though Diskin wasn't much more than an observer during the Iran discussions, his impression of the decision-making process carries great weight. Politicians sell their voters images, a superficial appearance of how they function at the helm. Then Diskin comes, as Dagan and Ashkenazi did before him, and tells us how it really looks from the inside. If his impression is accurate - and the burden of refuting it is on the targets of his criticism - we mustn't put the fate of the nation in the hands of such leaders, in both war and peace.

Usually it's the Shin Bet that eavesdrops on others. This time, the people should give a listen.

Read this article in Hebrew