Politicians and the Truth / The Danger of Doublespeak

Israel's leaders know the truth about the political situation but are afraid to speak it, as if Israelis were children who must be shielded from the cruel reality.

It's not clear what pushes VIPs to confess to Americans as if to a priest or psychologist. Maybe a psychological explanation is in order: At some point, people must have a chance to relieve themselves of the burden of lies.

The WikiLeaks documents published in Haaretz on Friday reveal doublespeak. Still, the ministers, officials and senior officers have not told the Americans everything. There are still things only the black box will reveal, once their policy has crashed.

lieberman netanyahu - Emil Salman / Tomer Appelbaum - September 12 2010
Emil Salman / Tomer Appelbaum

Like spouses who have been cheated on, Israelis are the last to know. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the settler leaders know the truth - they're just afraid to say so.

They, too, understand what our fate will be in this land if it is not divided. But why should they tell us that the settlers would evacuate for proper compensation? For now, the head of the Yesha Council of settlements will only whisper it to the Americans, perhaps so they can start getting the money together.

They're afraid to speak the truth as if Israelis were children who must be shielded from the cruel reality. They're afraid they will be thrown out of office when the people realize they've been tricked. It turns out that Israel now wants a strong Hamas, a general said, without which the state of Gaza will be even more violent.

I, too, was once sought out by foreign officials. My rules were as follows. First, they come to me. Second, only the ambassador or acting ambassador, not any passing CIA representative. Third, and most important, I don't tell them what I haven't told you first. That's the way of all defeatists like me, and I recommend it to Peace Now.

Doublespeak is dangerous because it destroys the public's belief in its representatives. Now we don't really know what is true. And if another war breaks out soon, will it be because we had no choice, or an attempt to reorganize the national agenda to deflect attention from having been tricked? In a few years, when the next batch of WikiLeaks is revealed, we'll know for sure.