Sunday, December 8, 2013

Give the Baby his Bottle

by Gonen Ginat

Years ago, the following joke made the rounds in Israel: Two friends hadn't seen one another in a long time. When they met, one of them learned that the other had a baby boy.
"Is he speaking yet?" he asked.

"Yes," his friend answered. "Now we're trying to teach him how to shut up."

According to the urban legend, the child grew up, was drafted into Israel's Internal Security Agency, the Shin Bet, learned how to keep his mouth shut, climbed the ladder to the top of the organization and, a few years ago, resigned. He dreamed of being appointed by the prime minister to head the Mossad, and when he didn't get the appointment, he started talking again. And he hasn't stopped since.

Does Yuval Diskin know what he is talking about? Well, when talking about the Iranian nuclear program his experience in the area is about the same as that of a regular person reading the newspapers. The Shin Bet does not deal with the Iranian threat. Diskin has no more knowledge of how dangerous the heavy-water reactor at Arak is than your average grammar teacher.

In contrast, when it comes to the Palestinians, the head of the Shin Bet most certainly has experience. The problem is that he has a problematic motive: At the end of his term as Shin Bet chief, Diskin wanted to be appointed to lead the Mossad. He could have become the strongest person in the defense establishment. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided he preferred someone else at the Mossad's helm. The blow to Diskin did not end there: To succeed him at the Shin Bet, Netanyahu chose Yoram Cohen over Diskin's recommended candidate. Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces at the time, also did not have his term extended, effectively neutralizing the power alliance of Diskin, Ashkenazi and then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan, which posed a challenge to Netanyahu.

And then Diskin and his two friends saw the light and understood that Israel has two primary enemies: the Iranian nuclear threat and Benjamin Netanyahu. Not necessarily in that order. They preached that matters pertaining to Iran's nuclear ambitions should be left to U.S. President Barack Obama. This theory, meanwhile, has come crashing down. Now they need to focus on the person who had it right -- Netanyahu.

The main danger posed by Diskin's comments, similar to Dagan's comments before him, does not stem from the revelation of military secrets. The problem is with Israel losing its deterrent capability. Because what are senior Palestinian officials saying among themselves when they hear Diskin? And what are Iranian intelligence officers saying among themselves? They are scratching their heads and saying: If this is the quality of their security personnel, we'll be fine.

Gonen Ginat


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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