The Good Times Are Over / The Stars Lied to Us, Again

What will Israel do without Mubarak, or with a weakened Mubarak, who cannot even be saved by Benjamin Ben-Eliezer?

When the fat rats flee on a private jet, it means that the worst of their regime is extinguished, and the ship of state is about to capsize. Even if it stays afloat for a while, with tattered sails, its fate is sealed.

The United States and Europe have grasped what is happening; Israel has not, and is struggling to digest the news. It's hard to part from friends, comrades whose steady thinking and responsibility have been in evidence for the past 30 years. Throughout everything that has happened to our region, and to us in that period, Hosni Mubarak passed every test. More than once, it seemed that the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt was about to collapse due to skirmishing, warfare and the intifadas; but, each time, the Egyptian president stood out as a stable oasis. Unlike all the crazed leaders from one end of this region to the other, he was a normal statesman. Now, the time has come to part; the die is cast. It is a poignant sight - a regional leader of international stature is leaving the stage, with only Israel and Saudi Arabia bidding him farewell.

Totalitarian and autocratic regimes that rely on means of repression and intimidation invariably collapse. Their doom is foretold; they live on borrowed time. When the knife cuts them open, the internal rot shows. When the tyrant tries to perpetuate his rule, and pass the torch to some successor dictator, he only hastens his end.

Commentators are second guessing the Mossad and Military Intelligence, claiming that their eyes did not see, their ears did not hear, what was going to happen in Egypt. Such claims have no foundation. It is never possible to know in advance when the end will come; the end always comes as a surprise, that is actually no surprise at all. The end could come at any moment, and any simple straw can snap, and break the camel's back. No intelligence community has the capability to know exactly when the roof will cave in, and when the tyrants will be buried under the rubble. Their radar screens do not absorb preliminary indications of popular upheaval; no special technology is available to identify in advance the despair of the masses, their feeling that there is nothing to lose and possibly something to gain.

Not technology nor supernatural divination, but wisdom is needed to identify the deep-seated processes that lead to the end of such undemocratic regimes. State intelligence officers lack such wisdom; they operate on the basis of conceptual routines and wishful thinking. One definitely needs to listen to what Miltary Intelligence and the Mossad predict, and then assess that exactly the opposite will occur - that yields a precise forecast.

Yet the working assumption should always be this: Dictatorships, of every stripe, are ephemeral.

The Soviet Union collapsed into smaller units without giving any warning discernible to an army of Sovietologists. The same happened to the experts on Iran and South Africa.

What will Israel do without Mubarak, or with a weakened Mubarak, who cannot even be saved by Benjamin Ben-Eliezer? Israel will do exactly what it did during Mubarak's tenure - absolutely nothing. The good years were wasted, and now the bad times are on their way. Or perhaps the opposite is true: As the situation in the region degenerates, this government profits. It has nothing to do but defend old positions and fortify the state as a villa in a regional jungle.