• Lebanon
  • August 17, 2006
  • 4 minutes read

First Halutz must go

One thing ought to be clear: Without an excellent army that is ready at any moment to meet the enemy, “Israel” has no chance of surviving in this neighborhood over the long term. This deep understanding is shared both by those who think that we must withdraw from all the territory occupied in 1967, and those who think that we must not give up an inch. “Israel’s” democracy rests on a strong “Israeli” Army, whose commanders maintain its capabilities in training, equipment and fighting spirit as if war were about to break out at any moment.
Therefore, without claiming that the blame or responsibility rests solely with Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, based on the criteria of conduct, preparedness and results, Halutz must resign immediately. This resignation should occur even before investigations and inquiries begin, and not only in order to underscore the gravity of the situation and the facts that no failure can occur without someone taking responsibility, and no failure can be disguised as a victory with empty words.
The fact that the chief of staff found time to sell his stock portfolio at noon on July 12, three hours after two soldiers were kidnapped, is intolerable from every conceivable angle. When the person in question is a senior public figure who bears responsibility for the fate of all the state’s citizens, including the kidnapped soldiers and those who were killed trying to rescue them, this cannot be considered an invasion of privacy. The chief of staff’s conduct of his private life is indicative of his ability of function in his public life. If Halutz can find time to deal with matters of this nature at such a critical practical and psychological moment, that alone is enough to demonstrate that he should cease serving as chief of staff. The cumulative feeling created by the fact that the chief of staff took time off on that bitter day to hastily sell his stocks, while the justice minister found time on that day to be photographed with, and take down the telephone number of, a passing clerk who later accused him of sexual harassment, is one of despair, as if the public has no one on whom to rely.
Should the chief of staff resign, he would demonstrate, albeit with regrettable tardiness, that he understands what happened in “Israel” over the past month. His meeting with television interviewers at the height of the final battle Saturday, when, with characteristic self-righteousness, he devoted precious time to responding to the accusations being hurled at him, is merely another example of the arrogant behavior he has demonstrated throughout his tenure. If this arrogance had any justification in reality, it would probably have been forgiven. But the thousands of soldiers and officers who are now making their way home – most of whom are not professional soldiers, but rather responded to emergency call-up orders because they trusted the chief of staff – are telling hair-raising stories of logistical failures, confused orders, empty emergency storehouses, military operations whose purpose was unclear, and training that prepared them for the wrong battle.
If Military Intelligence provided accurate information about Hezbollah sufficiently in advance, then the failure rests with the Israeli Army’s lack of preparedness to confront the organization. If MI failed to grasp Hezbollah’s capabilities, then in that case, too, the chief of staff cannot remain in his post. The government as a whole is also not innocent in this failure. But first of all, Halutz must go.