Pic: Yaki Assaig

Is there not a shred of decency left?

In a nation controlled by opinion polls, Yair Lapid calls for some decent criticism

Let’s assume that IDF Brigadier General Gal Hirsch has to go.


He was a year behind me at the Gymnasia High School. Not that I remember him among all the youngsters. We called them baby faces, short soldiers who had not begun to shave yet, in uniforms that looked a little silly on them as they ran to catch the transport bus. That was 28 years ago. He’s been in the army ever since.


Let’s assume that the IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz has to resign.


In 1978, he left the army for the first time, studied economics at Tel Aviv University and did not plan to reenlist. He had already fulfilled his obligation. Twelve years of service in the Air Force, 43 missions during the Yom Kippur War, three Migs shot down. The Israeli economy was just starting to pick up. An ‘Ace’ in the sky who knew his way around a spreadsheet was a commodity in demand.


The millions seemed to be on their way, except that the first war in Lebanon erupted and he was asked to return to the military. He agreed immediately.


After the war, he was appointed the commander of the 107 Airborne Squadron. There is some irony in this as the squadron’s nickname was ‘the order of the orange tailed knights’. 20 years later the country was covered with the orange streamers of those who opposed him.


Let’s assume that in the weeks and months to come - as evidence continues to mount - we’re going to come to the conclusion that more and more people will have to step down.


How to do it?

Is there no meaning to the question of how they will exit?


In the worst case scenario, these are good people who made critical mistakes. Let’s face it. They are made of better stuff than most of us. In this materialistic world, of selfishness and indulgence, they dedicated their lives to a worthy cause. What were the rest of us doing during that time?


We weren’t running through the crowded alleyways of Gaza with Gal Hirsch nor were we responsible for reducing the number of air force training accidents to zero.


When exactly did we earn the right to scream and demand their immediate resignation? Why do we want to smash their swords in front of the screaming mobs in the town square?


What's going on?

A quick snapshot of the situation: The Winograd commission is still collecting testimonies; the Alma Committee is still working on its final recommendations; Amiram Levin’s commission does not find fault with individuals per se; and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has submitted a its initial findings only. As for the army, its internal investigation is still reviewing the operational data.


We appointed them all. We knew we were dealing with complex, multilayered systems during a war unlike any Israel has waged in the past. They should be looking at the mistakes that began many years ago. It was clear that the findings would take time so why aren’t we willing to wait?


It seems to us that we have the right to meddle in everything, anytime we want. Nowadays, instead of the corner grocery with one kind of milk, we can choose between five supermarkets which offer 16 kinds of milk. We choose the singers we like via SMS, the television programs we prefer with the remote control, the cell phone depending on the best sale. Seventy television channels, nine news broadcasts, 10 websites, a public opinion poll every other day


We are number one in the world for poll taking. In math, we rank seventh, from the end. Maybe it is because math is connected to facts. We have no patience for facts. They are always changing. So Ms. Sonja, what’s your opinion this morning?


Today we are satisfied with the government’s performance; tomorrow we’ll want to throw them out. Today we admire our army; tomorrow we’ll call our son’s brigade commander and yell at him. We have no need for representational government. The power of rule is in our hands since we don’t trust anyone anymore.


We are asked our opinions every five minutes so that we’ve become accustomed to having an opinion on everything. You understand this, marketing and advertising experts whisper to us, surely you understand this. You understand dancing, magic, singing, models, cooking, you know which of the fellows with the moon face is the most suitable for the girl with the great breasts.


Not once in four years, not because you learned the material, not because you gathered all the information. Now, right now, vote now, with one click, without hesitating, because the lines are going to close very shortly. Trust yourselves, go with your gut feelings, instinct replaced intellect long ago. Only you understand the question of who is best suited to be defense minister, finance minister, justice minister. Only you know who is best suited to lead his soldiers into Bint Jbeil.


That's not criticism

I am all for criticism but that is not what is happening now. It’s not criticism, it’s madness.


I don’t know if Halutz should resign. I have interviewed him; we had a preliminary chat first. I read everything published about the subject and a few things that weren’t. I spoke with senior officials in the investigating committees. My sources are pretty good in the army and outside of it.


And after all that, I still don’t know because that’s not really my job. The testimonies are still being taken, the investigation is continuing. It’s not just me. No Israeli journalist knows, and if someone claims otherwise he’s a liar or unreliable, just like taxi drivers, weather people, corporals in the reserves and the couple who were yelling in my living room on Friday. Facts cannot be replaced by opinion. We simply don’t know yet so how is it we already have an opinion?


And even after the hearing it is decided that Gal Hirsch has to leave the military, and even if the public debate compels Halutz to resign – isn’t it appropriate to enable them to leave honorably, with quiet dignity, without our shoe prints embedded on their backsides?


Aren’t their past achievements worth something? Is there no value to the fact that these are people who did the best they could under impossible conditions, with intentions that were no less than noble?


And when they do leave the stage for the last time don’t they deserve to be saluted?


פרסום ראשון: 12.12.06, 22:29
 new comment
This will delete your current comment