A Jew went to a rabbi to seek his advice. He needed to see a non-Jewish clerk at the town hall to register his newly born son. He debated: Some say I should register my son on the day prior to the actual birth date, and some say the opposite - that I should register him a day later. The rabbi suggested he register him on his actual birth date. The Jew answered: Wow, what an idea, I didn't think of that.
Three high profile commentators were invited to a live studio to give their take on the question why Major General Ron-Tal said the disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank last summer was the reason why the IDF failed the war in Lebanon this summer.
The presenter asked them whether they thought the major general said what he did because he was eying politics, or perhaps because he wanted to settle personal accounts with the military echelons. The commentators gave opposing views and estimates, but not even one of them thought the major general said what he did simply because he believed what he was saying.
Hundreds of thousands of people think in similar terms; not only that the war, but all the painful and humiliating events that plagued Israel in the last year, came in the aftermath of the corrupt deed Israel carried out with firmness and bluntness when it evacuated the Gush Katif settlements and the northern West Bank.
Ron-Tal spoke of the military's training and the defense establishments' resources that were allotted to the mission of expulsion and destruction of Gush Katif rather than using them to prepare for war. But this is only the superficial connection between the earthquake of Gush Katif and the tsunami wall that climaxed with the failures of the war in Lebanon. The connection is rooted far more deeply.
For our enemies the disengagement bred the Hamas victory, the disintegration of the Palestinian Authority, the barrage of Kassam rockets, the Hizbullah's need for competition, the war in Lebanon and finally the Katyusha fire on Haifa. And this is also just the outward connection.
Yet both within the political and military elites the resounding success of the disengagement and the destruction of the settlements bred a measure of arrogance, reminiscent of the type prevalent on the eve of Yom Kippur War. However, the arrogance stemming from the disengagement was much more inflated, extroverted, and void of content, because who did you actually beat?
And this isn’t the worst outcome of the disengagement crime. People are asking where the overall sense of revulsion is stemming from, how is it that half the population didn't go to the polls, and the other half demonstrated their protest by voting for the Pensioner's Party, or the Kadima Party while knowing full well that several of its leaders had a closet full of shameful acts and potential indictments.
All the blatant headlines appearing lately shouldn't come as a surprise. We knew, and we voted them in. Without hope, without fun and without illusions. We also knew that the entire country's leadership was dancing to the tune of the adman Reuven Adler and his band of image consultants, spin wizards and headline creators.
The TV documentary "All the Campaign's Men" didn't serve as a scoop or an eye opener. It was very unpleasant watching the "bluff creators" setting the state agenda and filling in their list for the Knesset, just as it is unpleasant now seeing the newspaper headlines on Ehud Olmert's homes or Tzachi Hanegbi's indictment.
We can't say, however, that this news is anything new. But how did it come to this? Where did it begin?
Mother of all spins
It began with the disengagement, the mother of all spins and corruptions. Now it's public knowledge that Ariel Sharon's "farm team" invented the disengagement in order to rescue the Sharon family from a series of legal and criminal quandaries.
It is public knowledge that Sharon wasn't interested in this move, he thought it would be bad for Israel, but the newspaper headlines were screaming the words "Greek Island" and "Cyril Kern" and it was crystal clear that these scandals would lead to an indictment, dismissal from the premier's post and perhaps even a prison sentence.
Sharon had to make a tragic choice between what he thought was very bad for Israel but good for himself and his family, and between what's good for Israel and bad for Sharon and his family.
He chose badly, but this is not the greatest violation. The greatest violation of all is that it worked. It became possible. The spin wizards and headline acrobats actually tipped the legal scales, closed files, recruited the media, and managed to take the prosecution, the high court and the military with them.
The spin wizards took them all on a course whose motives everyone knew were tainted. Everyone knew they would be obliged to pay a fee when being recruited, either by their obedience, or in the decision to close the file, or in keeping silent - and they all paid up.
The Winograd committee will not pinpoint these findings, because no committee of inquiry is built to probe ties that that go so deeply. But if they really want to fix the foundations, they should look courageously at the signs indicating that all the failures and downfalls we have experienced in the past year didn’t constitute the crime but rather the punishment.
The crime was perpetrated at the end of last year in Gush Katif, and if we wish to start making amends, we must repent our sins first.