The frightened offensive against Meir Dagan was expected. The prime minister and defense minister were unable to hold back when the Mossad chief that they had adorned with praise and compliments surprised them with a stinging slap in the face.
Netanyahu and Barak sent their assistants to disparage Dagan. The always paranoid prime minister's entourage accused Dagan of participating in a political conspiracy. One called him “crazy.” The Science Fiction Minister demanded that he stand trial. A number of lesser known Knesset members are promoting a ridiculous law, the silence law, which will be named after Dagan. Very funny. Or maybe not.
The diversion of the public discussion to the least important question was also expected: Is it “ok” for the Mossad chief to speak publicly after his resignation, and voice his sincere opinions on fateful issues facing the State of Israel? Ok or not ok – who cares? When a person notices a fire, he or she must shout to alert others, even if that interrupts a celebratory concert. All the more so on the Titanic. While it is impolite to disturb the musicians, it certainly isn't the time to discuss manners.
And there was no surprise when it came to the well-known media pattern dedicating 10 minutes of glory to the Dagan drama. Like every story, Dagan faded when another drama took over – Miki Haimovitch resigned as anchor of the nightly news! Indeed, it's not just governmental involvement in the State of Israel's security affairs that is “superficial,” as per Dagan's claim. It became clear once again that media coverage of security affairs is superficial as well.
This is, then, a rather pathetic attempt to bring Dagan's highly important warning back to the agenda. The public was not given such a warning in 1973 when Golda Meir and her partners to the blindness and naiveté led Israel to the abyss. This time a brave man stood up to warn us that our government may bring about a national tragedy greater than the one faced on that Yom Kippur. How can this public warning be ignored?
The outgoing Mossad chief says that a military strike against Iran must “not be a preferred option or a possible option, but rather a last option.” Ethically and fundamentally, whoever shares this opinion must voice it, and may not use the right to remain silent.
Yet Dagan's main tenets were his opinions on the country's leaders, particularly the prime minister and defense minister. On this matter he opted to shout. In so doing he adhered to the guidance of the Winograd Commission following the Second Lebanon War: Professionals' supreme obligation is to their profession and their position, and not to their commanders.
According to Dagan, we are not in good hands. His remarks portray the prime minister and defense minister as adventurers who, through haste and irresponsibility, may cause a terrible war. When I wrote things of this nature a few times in the past two years, I never imagined that the Mossad chief shared my concerns. It turns out that his fears are greater and more established. I wrote as an observer collecting overt information. Dagan was privy to Netanyahu and Barak during secret moments over the darkest material. I believe him.
The headlines were dominated by Netanyahu and Barak's plans to attack Iran, but Dagan himself sought to stress another important matter – the essential need to urgently resolve the Palestinian issue.
“The first challenge, in my opinion, is the Palestinian problem, because it of its significance to creating the borders of the State of Israel and determining quality of life, and our ability to survive in the region is highly dependent on the relations that will take shape between us and the Palestinians,” Dagan said.
I have no idea what Dagan's political views are, but can assume that he didn't vote for Meretz. If a steadfast and hawkish security official states that he believes that the first challenge is the Palestinian problem, it is no less important than his clear stance on Iran. When Netanyahu and Barak praised Dagan upon his departure from the Mossad post, they said that the citizens of Israel owe him thanks for his excellent service in the Mossad. We also owe him thanks for the courage and integrity that he displayed after leaving the agency.
Yoel Esteron is the founder and publisher of business newspaper Calcalist