This week it was announced that the Judge Advocate General’s Corps is considering suing the Winograd Commission in the High Court. Even if the army’s Advocate General is not the IDF itself, and the Winograd Commission was appointed by the Israeli government and is not itself the State of Israel, still, the symbolism of this scandalous step taken by senior officers against an investigatory commission about to reveal the depth of their failure in the Lebanese was is enough to bring one to despair.
This is not the first time a senior officer has threatened state institutions and sued them in the High Court. A few months ago the home front commander General Yitzhak Gershon (who likes to be called “Gerry”) did not hesitate to go to court to prevent publication of an interim report by the State Comptroller dealing with the home front’s activities during the war. This general reported to the minister of defense on the day the war broke out that “the home front is ready” and recommended not declaring a state of emergency on the home front and not initiating use of the country’s emergency economic program, and not even the program for providing for evacuation, assistance and dealing with fatalities, and he declared “that the border area is well protected and its residents are in the shelters.” He who neglected to perform to his job, who dragged his feet and did not help the million Israelis directly affected on the home front, he did not hesitate to run to the High Court to prevent publication of the State Comptroller’s report about his failures.
What did Gerry gain by all this? Three more months in his office. What did Israel lose? Three months in which it could have been preparing better for the next war. New shelters were not built in the north. In the south, Sderot was left to its fate. But this general did not even blink when it came to defending his “good name,” which might have been sullied if the interim report had been published three months ago before he had a chance to respond to its conclusions.
Soon the State Comptroller will publish the complete report on the abandonment of the home front during the war. Then we will all know the extent of Gerry’s role in the debacle. But even before publication of the report, we have learned that for him three more months in his job was more important than the steps necessary to provide for the safety and well being of millions of Israeli citizens. The military lawyers fought the State Comptroller to protect his “good name.” To protect their “good name,” unnamed generals and brigadier generals went this week to court to prevent publication of the Winograd report, because their “good names” might be sullied.
It is necessary to state that as long as the Winograd Commission has not identified which senior officers bear personal responsibility for the failure along with the prime minister, the entire IDF has been branded as a failure. As long as these people have not been removed from the army, more worthy officers are unable to fix what the former have brought about. In order to insist on their personal rights, they have not hesitated to delay the report’s publication – and to oppose the state.
When the Agranat Commission report was issued following the Yom Kippur War, the late chief of staff David Elazar knew that he had been wronged, but it never occurred to him to sue the country that he loved, even though it had turned its back on him. He bowed his head and with a broken heart became another victim of that war. He died of that broken heart. Elazar took upon himself the responsibility for the failure of a war that ended in victory. We failed in the Lebanese war, but despite this failure the Israeli army generals are afraid even to have their names revealed, and they hide behind the Judge Advocate General’s Corps; they are not prepared to lower their heads and wait for the commission of inquiry’s conclusions. They are trying to accomplish a targeted assassination, or at least to continue fighting while retreating and remaining in the area as long as possible.
Are we seeing a new generation of IDF senior commanders who are ready to put their personal egos ahead of their people and the good of the country? Or perhaps they are serving not only their personal egos but also and mainly the personal ego of the prime minister?
Five generals serving today in the IDF served as military attaches to Sharon and Olmert. This politicization of the army is destructive. The person in Israel who most wants to delay publication of the Winograd report is Ehud Olmert. The report may perhaps redeem the citizens of Israel from his failed and corrupt leadership. Olmert knows he may lose his job after his publication. For him, anything is kosher that will prevent or delay its publication. Therefore he is pushing those loyal to him in the army to go to the High Court. If he could he would do it himself, but this he does not dare to do. So he has officers doing his dirty work, even if the result is destructive.
From his sinking ship, he sends senior officers to drill holes in the bottom of Winograd’s boat. But we know the Winograd boat is also Israel’s lifeboat.
This article ran in Maariv on July 13th, 2007