The Axis of Shame

In 1998, the Nimrodi family controversially lobbied to get Shaul Mofaz named chief of staff. Mofaz has not been ungrateful.

Eli Cohen. Moshe Marzuk and Shmuel Ezer. Uzi Yairi. Amitai Nahmani. Yonatan Netanyahu - people from Military Intelligence, Shin Bet, Mossad, and Sayaret Matkal. Altogether there are some 1,500 fallen, whose names are engraved at Glilot on the state memorial to the intelligence community's casualties at the Center for the Heritage of the Intelligence Services.

It's the last place one would expect the state to hand over to a convicted criminal, no matter who he was before he was convicted. But on July 10, a convict will indeed use the memorial site, and under the patronage of the defense minister, for a celebration. The invitation that went out to hundreds of people bore the triangular symbol of the center and says, "the event is under the patronage of Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz."

The Pale Scout Threesome will provide further entertainment, "especially for this evening." Neither the entertainers or their impresario will suffer any harm in editorial or advertising copy in the newspaper that is owned by the sender of the invitations to this celebration, nor is it likely Mofaz will suffer any criticism in that newspaper.

In 1998, the Nimrodi family controversially lobbied to get Mofaz named chief of staff. Mofaz has not been ungrateful. As chief of staff he attended the marriage of Ofer Nimrodi, after Nimrodi's first (of two) criminal convictions. Now Mofaz will be the best man at the launch of Jacob Nimrod's autobiography, in which the chapters dealing with the Irangate episode present Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinish, Maj. Gen. (res) Rafael Vardi, and Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein as Nimrodi's enemies.

High ranking legal authorities who only heard from the press about Mofaz's enlistment on behalf of Nimrodi and the use of the intelligence center memorial as the scene of the celebration, were not pleased. "We regret it," said the Justice Ministry.

Nimrodi was convicted on September 2002 at Tel Aviv Magistrates Court of harassing witnesses, conspiracy to commit a crime, obstruction of justice, and fraudulently receiving goods. His past as an IDF colonel and his work for Military Intelligence and the Mossad did not help him evade a five month sentence of community service, which he is supposed to do not far from Glilot, at the Kfar Hayarok boarding school.

His sentence has been postponed until a district court hears his appeal in November. Appearing in public with highly placed honorable people ahead of the appeal won't harm the appeal. Nimrodi is correct when he says that until the appeal is settled, no irreversible step should be taken now, like requiring him to quit certain business partnerships because he was convicted of a crime defined as shameful by the law.

But that's not the case in the matter of the book party at the memorial, which is preceding the appeal. State honors are being showered on someone who currently is not innocent until proved guilty - he is a convicted criminal.

While one arm of the state put him on trial, convinced a judge to convict him and now struggles with his appeal, the defense minister and a state memorial for the fallen are helping Nimrodi polish up his image and warm the hearts of society ahead of his appeal.

President Moshe Katsav, who become entangled in a letter of support for Nimrodi before the original verdict against the tycoon, this time had his picture taken with Nimrodi but will be able to avoid the event because of a trip overseas. Mofaz will represent the state at Nimordi's affair even though, if the appeal fails, Mofaz might be required to decide on a recommendation by a committee of colonels whether Nimrodi should lose his commission, as a result of a criminal conviction.

The previous Krieger-Ben-Ami committee will soon be recommending to the chief of staff and ultimately to Mofaz, that Ofer Nimordi be stripped of his officer rank, because he was twice convicted of crimes that the law defines as shameful.

None of those involved in this matter can be suspected of innocence, only of misjudgment. Mofaz was disingenuous when he claimed, through his spokesman, that Mofaz "was invited by the intelligence center, including Maj. Gen. (res.) Meir Amit, the center's chairman, and accepted the request to attend as the center's guest at an event honoring a person who contributed to the state of Israel's security."

Mofaz knows very well the purpose of the memorial center. Only a month ago he delivered a speech there at a memorial service for the fallen of the intelligence services, waxing poetic about `the artists of sweet silence.'" He quoted Bialik on "the curtain of secrecy," and spoke of "pain, sorrow, blood, and mourning," of the dedication and diligence of ants collecting crumb after crumb to build a great treasure to preserve our existence."

Nimrodi, an intelligence officer with a talent he eventually exploited for criminal purposes, as was evident at his trial, not only acquired a great treasure, but also the patronage and a stamp of legitimacy from the defense minister and the intelligence service's entertainment squad.

But if he wanted to reach the level of Mofaz and the center, he was only partially successful. By agreeing to serve him, they have brought themselves down to his level of shame.