Meir Dagan
Photo: Ben Kelmer
Dagan should keep quiet
Op-ed: Former Mossad director’s recent comments undermine Israel’s ambiguity policy
Meir Dagan has many rights. He dedicated most of his life to the State of Israel and did it in a way that produced impressive achievements. Yet more importantly, Dagan managed to direct a complex security agency over an extended period of time while being a trusted public servant. He was a Mossad director who understood well his place in the interaction between decision-makers and those who execute their decisions.


Yet precisely because of that, the words uttered by Dagan publicly last week are grave and must be condemned. Throughout his tenure, and as a man dedicated to silence, Dagan fought leaks to newspapers. The Mossad chief adopted a modest approach at the beginning of the road, and rightfully so. He knew that at times rhetoric is the deciding factor, even if the words are empty, and therefore he chose to remain silent.



Yet now, six months later, Dagan is speaking and provoking speculations that at best can be characterized as needless. We should emphasize that Dagan did not expose great secrets, neither on the political nor on the security front. Anyone interested in the shadowy war against Iran is familiar with those things. Moreover, Dagan is right: A military strike in Iran has the potential for collateral damage and would encounter great operational difficulties.


Nonetheless, Dagan is not permitted to say what media commentators are allowed to say. The aim of Israel’s ambiguity policy – which Dagan was a party to – is to create the impression that everything is on the table. The rest should take place behind closed doors and not in front of the cameras.


‘Retiring general syndrome’

On the political and diplomatic front, Dagan did not expose anything either, with the exception of the “retiring general syndrome.” Yet he committed the sin of arrogance. If Dagan had such dramatic criticism for his superiors, he should have said so during his term in office or quit. We cannot accept his argument that he stayed on board and kept silent all those years because his presence prevented catastrophe among decision-makers. As we know, the cemeteries are full of irreplaceable people.


And after all, Dagan isn’t alone. In the State of Israel, where the shift from the defense establishment to politics is a regular route, it’s hard to find generals who did not babble on. All of them had something to say and all of them were certain that they are right. Nonetheless, the words uttered by Dagan, his status, and his timing are very problematic.


I’m in favor of Dagan speaking and even entering politics one of these days. He is certainly a worthy individual. Yet until that time, he should stay out of it and adhere to the same standards he demanded of his subordinates.



פרסום ראשון: 06.07.11, 14:01
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