The Dichters and Diskins

Diskin repeated all of the empty mantras of the Shin Bet. Was it too much to expect one fresh statement, some sort of change in the approach whose failure echoes through the Hamas-flooded streets of Gaza?

Here, the new star of the election campaign - not the next one, but the one after - has burst forth from the Shin Bet's cloning factory. On the eve of the anticipated political success of Avi Dichter, the outgoing Shin Bet head and favorite of the media and opinion polls, the new Shin Bet director, Yuval Diskin, appeared at the end of the week and outlined his doctrine to military correspondents, a doctrine that raises the suspicion that he is also likely one day to emerge as a political discovery. Diskin demonstrated that there is no difference between new and old in the Shin Bet, and that the service knows how to create only one model of director. In addition to the happy news that Dichter and Diskin are amateur poets, it turns out that both of them know how to speak only one language - of force, one-dimensional, uncourageous and unimaginative.

Diskin repeated all of the empty mantras of the Shin Bet. Was it too much to expect one fresh statement, some sort of change in the approach whose failure echoes through the Hamas-flooded streets of Gaza? But beyond the disappointment from the very fact that such an important organization manufactures a frighteningly uniform pattern of thinking, the content of Diskin's remarks raises gloomy thoughts about the person responsible for the country's security, a person who has such a decisive impact on state policy.

What information did the new director impart? That the Palestinian Authority "is barely functioning," that Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is a "general without soldiers" and that Hamas "is positioning itself as a player of equal weight to the PA in the Gaza Strip." The commentator Diskin enumerated these sensational revelations as if his organization had no role in their development.

After all, if Hamas grew stronger after dozens of targeted killings of its leaders and fighters, one must recognize that this was an utter failure. What were the liquidations of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Abdel Aziz Rantisi and their like designed to achieve if not to weaken Hamas? The war the Shin Bet pursued against the organization was aimed at hurting it, but lo and behold: from liquidation to liquidation, Hamas grew stronger. Each assassination increased its popularity in the Palestinian street. Is it not time to take responsibility for this failure and, in particular, to change direction? It is clear a person like Diskin will not do this. As one of those who came up with the insipid idea of liquidations, he cannot be expected to do this.

But the failure of Israel's policy, conducted under the Shin Bet's baton, is not limited to the strengthening of Hamas. Israel also bears heavy responsibility for the weakening of the Palestinian Authority and the emptying of its institutions, especially its security organizations, of all content. Those who bombed all of the PA's security installations during Operation Defensive Shield, destroyed all of the government buildings in all of the Palestinian cities and seek to strike against anyone bearing arms and wearing a uniform; those who destroy every jeep and bomb every pickup truck, who left the Palestinian security forces naked and exposed - cannot come now and complain about "generals without soldiers." What remains of these security forces except for ruins, scraps of metal and low morale? Who humiliated them in the eyes of their people and proved they were unable to fulfill their principal role of providing security for the Palestinians?

Those who caused this loss of trust cannot talk now about "a lack of motivation and legitimacy." What did they expect when they prevented the PA from presenting even one worthwhile achievement to the Palestinians - release of prisoners, real easements on travel restrictions, an improvement in the economic situation? Why should the Palestinians be in a hurry to follow those who deceived them and did not succeed in easing their unbearable lives under occupation? Is it not more logical for them to line up, in their desperation, behind those who at least are perceived as less corrupt and as attempting to save their national honor?

Responsibility for this situation falls squarely on the shoulders of the Shin Bet, since it stood behind the policy of liquidating Hamas men and of destroying all of the symbols of the PA. It dictated the policy, provided the list of addresses and targets to the IDF's targeted killing units and prevented the implementation of measures to improve the lives of Palestinians.

The Shin Bet of Dichter and Diskin, more than any other party, pressed for applying more and more force against the Palestinians and stood as an obstacle to any confidence-building measure with the PA. Behind every aggressive step by the IDF stands a Shin Bet man. Behind every checkpoint stands the organization whose commander now complains about the results of its policy. True, the suicide attacks have disappeared from our lives, but Diskin himself reported on the manufacture of "steep-trajectory weapons" in Jenin and Bethlehem, on the "transfer of infrastructure" to the West Bank and that the exit from Gaza "does not end the threat posed by it."

Diskin is now pulling out his next winning card: He opposes the participation of Hamas in the elections as long as it does not hand in its weapons - a demand Diskin knows has no chance of being realized. He also opposes moving forward with negotiations before this unrealistic demand is implemented. Israel's opposition to Hamas' participation in elections guarantees only one result: pushing Hamas to the path of continued violent struggle instead of the political path on which it is now seeking to embark. In four more years, when Diskin completes his term, he will be able to report the next dizzying achievements of Hamas and the complete collapse of the PA. Then perhaps he will also turn to politics, wreathed in glory, like his predecessor.