Israel Doesn't Need an Arab Spy to Know the Quiet Can't Last Forever

The insight of a defense minister isn't necessary to know what is heralded by the combination of an Arab political spring, a Western economic autumn and a freeze in the Israeli-Palestinian channel.

I read in Monday's Haaretz that during the course of the debate over the defense budget, Defense Minister Ehud Barak pulled out the Judgment Day weapon: another edition of the Yom Kippur War. Just to be on the safe side.

When the time comes Barak will be able to claim to the commission of inquiry: "I told you so." Then I turned on my computer and found in my inbox an election advertisement that the Alignment (the Labor Party and Mapam) published on the eve of Yom Kippur 1973. Beneath a large headline "The Bar-Lev Line," the "concept" is spelled out in all its glory:

Golda Meir

"Quiet prevails on the banks of the Suez, as well as in the Sinai Desert, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Judea and Samaria and on the Golan. The lines are secure, the bridges are open, Jerusalem is united, the settlements are being built and our diplomatic status is strong."

Who deserves the thanks for that? "Balanced, daring and far-sighted policy." Yes, mainly foresight. This self compliment adorns the famous "beehive" with Golda Meir in the hub, surrounded by Moshe Dayan, Yigal Alon, Abba Eban, Pinhas Sapir and Mapam leader Yaakov Hazan.

The elections, which were supposed to take place on October 30, were postponed to the end of December. Only in June 1974, in the wake of the report by the Agranat Commission (which investigated the Yom Kippur War) and the public protest that followed, did the government resign and Yitzhak Rabin replace Meir.

The concept of "It won't happen to us" did not allow any fact to spoil the sense of elation. One of its victims was the head of Military Intelligence at the time, Eli Zeira, who consistently ignored the oft-repeated warning of Egyptian spy Ashraf Marwan, the son-in-law of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The claim that Marwan sent the warning about the date of the start of the war very belatedly, thereby making it impossible for the Israel Defense Forces to prepare properly was brought up once again, at Yom Kippur. This claim ostensibly confirms Zeira's version that Marwan was a double agent. But that does not in any way contradict the fact (that is explained in Uri Bar Yosef's recent book "The Angel: Ashraf Marwan, the Mossad and the Surprise of the Yom Kippur War") that for months Marwan sent Israel an unambiguous message: if Sadat didn't get back the Sinai Peninsula by peaceful means, he would force Israel to return it after a bloody war. Zeira's great sin lies in his decision to favor the politicians' concept over the message of the Egyptian spy. The question of the double agent does not in any way reduce the weight of the responsibility of the national assessor.

With slight modifications, the array of rightwing parties dominating Israeli today could copy the ad for the 1973 "concept."

The malls are full of people, buses have stopped exploding, the Golan is bustling with tourists, the border with Egypt is quiet and even the Gaza Strip has been quite calm recently. The Palestinian Authority is establishing order in the West Bank, the settlements are full of life, Jerusalem is becoming more united by the day, the president of the United States is ingratiating to us, Europe is envious of our economic situation, young Arabs are busy with internal revolutions and the young Israelis are busy with the struggle for social justice. Paradise. So the defense minister warned of the danger of a second Yom Kippur. Several hundred million for his ministry's budget would remove the danger immediately.

You don't have to be Barak to know what is heralded by the combination of an Arab political spring, a Western economic autumn and a freeze in the Israeli-Palestinian channel. We can even save money this time - there's no need to pay a fortune for the services of an Arab spy.

How many mosques have to be torched before the head of the Shin Bet says that Baruch Goldstein was not the last murderer of Muslim worshippers? How long can a Palestinian president sell his nation the idea that violence will not release it from the occupation? How long will the citizens believe him when he says that if they behave nicely they will gain independence?

A busy attorney general

Three years have passed since the police transferred the investigation file against Eli Zeira to the previous attorney general, Menachem Mazuz. The investigation began in 2004 after former Mossad chief Zvi Zamir and two senior military intelligence officials claimed that Zeira had revealed the name of Marwan, whose body was found in June 2007 next to his home in London. In the arbitration decision he handed down that year, former Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or ruled that Zeira had an interest in revealing Marwan's identity, in order to confirm his theory that the man was a double agent and cast part of the responsibility for the blunders of the Yom Kippur War on the Mossad, which recruited Marwan.

In late 2010 the State Prosecutor's Office told Haaretz that discussion of the case had been postponed because of the prosecutors' strike. There was a promise that "it will take place afterwards and then a decision will be made." Last April a spokesman for the Justice Ministry said in reply to the question as to whether seven years is a reasonable time for making a decision: "The attorney general's office told us that the decision will be made soon." Yesterday, half a year later, the spokesman said that "a decision has yet to be made, and the case is awaiting the decision of the attorney general." The reason for the footdragging: "Too much work."

A propos too much work for the attorney general: Half a year ago Yehuda Weinstein announced that he was considering the adoption of the police recommendation of May 2010 to have Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stand trial, subject to a hearing, for crimes of fraud and breach of trust, receiving something fraudulently under aggravated circumstances, money laundering and harassing a witness. It was said that the hearing was supposed to take place in December. What's the rush? So what if a person - who police believe should be tried for serious crimes based on the evidence against him - continues to play a pivotal role in the most crucial decisions of the country for a few more months?