The Insecurity Minister

When Defense Minister Ehud Barak pulled apart the army, it was serious; without the Israel Defense Forces, we have nothing to rely on but our father in heaven, who has recently gone missing.

Ever since Defense Minister Ehud Barak equated himself with David Ben-Gurion, there has scarcely been any great figure for whom he has not found a modern-day equivalent. This week, he enriched the trove of comparisons by equating Yoav Galant, the former chief of staff-designate, with Moses and King David, two Biblical figures "who made mistakes when they were young but were then forgiven." In this manner, he placed both the crown of Torah and the crown of kingship on the head of the former nominee, and possibly on his own head as well.

The slides we see on the screen of our sick imaginations show the head of the army of Israel rising from his couch as evening breaks, walking back and forth on the roof of his house and watching a beautiful woman bathe herself. He desires her and thus concocts a plot to get rid of her husband who is fighting on the front.

It is possible to be envious of David, who committed a despicable act but is nevertheless remembered as a young man with beautiful eyes, from the naval commandos or from the elite "slingshot and stone" unit. Even the legal opinions that established the Buzaglo test - which requires the same law to apply to high officials and ordinary citizens alike - and the prohibition on stealing the poor man's lamb did not detract from David's positive image.

But what does Barak want of Moses, who is not considered to have committed any sins, unless the targeted killing of the Egyptian is seen as a crime on his part? Nevertheless, he was severely punished, allowed to see the promised land only from afar - not because he was guilty, but because he was responsible: Despite his efforts, he was unable to turn the rabble into a nation.

It sometimes happens that one does not reach the promised land, just as one does not always get the post that had been promised. But Moses did not submit an appeal.

Yet it is not because of his comparisons that the defense minister has lost his popularity, but rather because of his failures. This week, a reporter from a news agency telephoned and demanded an explanation: Why is Barak sinking precisely now? How is what is happening now different from what happened before, he asked, referring to an article I wrote in this newspaper many months ago that outlined his failures one by one.

The explanation is simple. As long as he was merely dismantling a government, it wasn't so terrible: Governments come and go, and their departure doesn't orphan the country. As long as he was merely breaking up a political party, that wasn't a disaster: It was a blessing to extinguish its wick, which was guttering in any case.

But when he pulled apart the army, that was no longer a joke: It was serious. Without the Israel Defense Forces, we have nothing to rely on but our father in heaven, who has recently gone missing.

Like Moses (if you'll excuse the comparison ), Barak does not bear sole blame for the bad vibes among the top brass; he has partners. But guilty or not guilty, he is responsible. It is during his term of office and under him that the disturbances took place. It is true that the document purporting to describe Galant's plans for a smear campaign against his rivals was forged, but the conspiratorial atmosphere that brought it into the world was real.

After all, what is the major task of the person in charge of any work place if not to instill habits of teamwork, to inculcate an esprit de corps? And that is all the more true in the army. And in this task, Barak failed. So much so that a level-headed person like former minister Avraham Shochat feels he is a security risk. Perhaps no one is waking up to oust him because they in any case haven't slept all night?

The trouble is that the candidates who have been mentioned as possible replacements for him - all the has-beens - are infused with that same evil spirit; they, too, trail a long line of vengeful personal accounts to settle. Every general is out to get his comrades in arms and in rank. Even when they divest themselves of their uniforms, they don't divest themselves of their grievances, and they will not be long in demanding satisfaction.

Sooner or later, Barak will be ousted. Our sensitive antenna of the public's feelings - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - will soon identify his vulnerability in the public's eyes and throw him overboard. Even this adventurous government will not accept a defense minister who is a security risk, and whose value is as minuscule as the number of Knesset seats he brings. It will not wait until six o'clock after the war.

What is needed in this pathetic group picture of a broken-down clique is a skilled director in ordinary shoes, not the boots of the Golani Brigade or the Paratroops. Perhaps this new candidate will not have participated in the last war, but he also won't have participated in the war between the generals.