IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Went against the public ethos
Photo: Gil Yohanan
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said last week that "Hamas also had some courageous actions" or "courageous fighters," or something of the kind.
As usually happens in the State of Israel, this immediately sent certain political circles into a state of shock: Why did he say what he said? Idolaters must not be praised. The chief of staff's words have a direct impact on the fighting ranks and on the population's morale. Is this the way to uplift the fighters' spirit?
And my answer is: Yes. This is the way to uplift – not only but also – the fighters' spirit. Simply telling them the truth, because they saw at least part of it in the battlefields, near and inside the houses, near and inside the tunnels, and they know the truth: There were some Hamas actions during Operation Protective Edge which, had they been committed by the IDF, we would have dragged brigades to the Western Wall for a thanksgiving prayer and praised them "that whole night."
There are many among us who love and nurture fairytales. Benny Gantz is not one of them. Gantz did something unique, something which happened during and after the Yom Kippur War, the war which we remembered several days ago. He told the truth and put an end at once to the state's national sport in the past generation: Lying to ourselves.
In his first interview after Protective Edge, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz says Hezbollah doesn't want another all-out war, there's no momentum for a third Palestinian intifada and ISIS is 'a phenomenon that must be tackled'; he won't, however, be drawn on the issue of Iran.
The decisive fact which cannot be undermined is that virtually the smallest and weakest terror organization dragged the great and mighty and terrible IDF into 51 days of fighting, and for dessert it launched dozens of missiles and mortar shells on the last day of fighting.
After paying his debt to the Israeli citizens' morale, to the political echelon and to every needy person, and saying "we won, we won, we won!" the chief of staff dared add that "Hamas had some courageous actions" and go against the public ethos, against the slow.
In today's war of narratives, there is no chance that anyone will like his comments, especially not the government, which gave Gantz his job but seems to have forgotten that his job is also, not only, to tell the truth.
Nonetheless, in his remarks Gantz won a name for himself in two areas:
1. Putting an end to the disregard of the enemy: For years and generations, terrorists and fighters in the Arab armies were seen as "Arabushim" (a derogatory term for Arabs), not to mention harsher words. We had the same notion in the Yom Kippur War, when many believed at first that it was "the seventh day of the Six-Day War." They became sober when Syrian tanks overlooked the Sea of Galilee and when Egyptian tanks ran over soldiers at the strongholds on the banks of the Suez Canal.
The soldiers who participated in Operation Protective Edge know exactly how and when and with whom and against whom they fought, what was missing and what they had too much off during the battle, and why and how we suffered losses.
They cannot be told lies. They were there. They saw. They heard. They fired. And they saw in front of them a terror organization demonstrating creativity in its actions against the IDF: Infiltrations from the sea, an operation of drones, tunnels pointing to thought and courage, massive rocket and mortar fire.
The IDF, which might have to prepare – and let's hope it is – for a war against an Iranian army with a nuclear bomb and against other Arab armies, must not be surprised by the planning and creativity demonstrated by terror organizations.
2. Telling the truth: In the Internet and social media era, telling lies has become an inseparable part of our lives. In the army, every army and especially the IDF, one pays with blood for lies.
In the past few years, unfortunately, IDF officials have also learned how to say things euphemistically, in order to please the public and definitely the political echelon, which is in charge of appointments, which promotes and demotes. Euphemism has been working overtime recently. Gantz's statement may mark a new way, even if it has hurt some politicians' swollen ego.