Clean house

The Jerusalem Post - - COMMENT&FEATURES -

If there is any­thing in Is­raeli so­ci­ety that is be­lieved to be holy, it is the IDF. The coun­try is cap­ti­vated by mil­i­tary sto­ries, and holds its breath when sol­diers are hurt, killed or kid­napped. Ye­diot Aharonot, one of the largest news­pa­pers in the coun­try, still in­serts a large por­trait of the new IDF chief of staff when­ever one takes up the post.

In 1963, David Ben-Gu­rion stepped down as Is­rael’s prime min­is­ter and gave what be­came known as his “farewell speech” from the IDF.

“Every Jewish mother should know that she has en­trusted the life of her son in the hands of wor­thy com­man­ders,” Is­rael’s found­ing fa­ther said.

It would be in­ter­est­ing to see if Ben-Gu­rion would stand by his state­ment af­ter the news on Thurs­day that the po­lice had wrapped up their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Case 3000 – also known as the Sub­marines Af­fair – and were rec­om­mend­ing in­dict­ments against six for­mer top mil­i­tary and govern­ment of­fi­cials.

Among those sus­pected of bribery and whom the po­lice claim to have suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to con­vict are re­serve ad­mi­ral Eliezer Marom, V.-Adm. (res.) Avriel Bar-Yosef and Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shai Brosh. Marom was the for­mer head of the Navy who al­legedly took bribes to as­sist Miki Ganor in be­com­ing the Is­raeli rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Ger­man cor­po­ra­tion ThyssenKrupp. Bar-Yosef was the No. 2 official in the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, and Brosh served as head of naval in­tel­li­gence. All al­legedly took bribes to help ad­vance the sale of Ger­man sub­marines to Is­rael, bring­ing into ques­tion all of the de­ci­sions th­ese three men took as com­man­ders.

What mo­ti­vated them? What was the real rea­son they chose one course of ac­tion over an­other? Were they op­er­at­ing to en­sure Is­rael’s se­cu­rity or to pad their pock­ets?

But that is not it. The po­lice also rec­om­mended charg­ing David Shim­ron, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s cousin and close po­lit­i­cal con­fi­dant. Any­one fol­low­ing po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in re­cent years knows how dom­i­nant Shim­ron has been. He was some­thing of a con­sigliere, the man who Ne­tanyahu en­trusted with the most sen­si­tive per­sonal is­sues – from his fam­ily’s own le­gal trou­bles to the coali­tion ne­go­ti­a­tions he led af­ter each elec­tion.

The mere sus­pi­cion that the sub­ma­rine sale was tainted with cor­rup­tion is a stain on the coun­try. Sub­marines are not just Is­rael’s most ex­pen­sive mil­i­tary plat­form, but also its most strate­gic one. Is­rael’s Dol­phin-class sub­marines re­port­edly serve as the Jewish state’s sec­ond-strike ca­pa­bil­ity, mean­ing that even if the home­land were at­tacked by nu­clear weapons, the subs would still re­port­edly be able to re­tal­i­ate with nu­clear-tipped cruise missiles of their own.

Ne­tanyahu has not been im­pli­cated in this case, but that hasn’t stopped the op­po­si­tion from call­ing for his res­ig­na­tion.

“Steal­ing money from the de­fense es­tab­lish­ment is a be­trayal of IDF sol­diers,” Zion­ist Union leader Avi Gab­bay said. “With this money we could have bought ar­mored per­son­nel car­ri­ers in­stead of the old ones that our sol­diers were forced to use dur­ing the last Gaza war four years ago. If the prime min­is­ter knew what his as­so­ciates were in­volved in, he should re­sign. If he didn’t know, he should re­sign be­cause he is not fit to lead the de­fense es­tab­lish­ment.”

We dis­agree with Gab­bay. As long as Ne­tanyahu has not been ac­cused of a crime, there is no im­me­di­ate rea­son for him to re­sign. Nev­er­the­less, he does need to do some house clean­ing and look into how it was pos­si­ble that some of the clos­est peo­ple to him – Bar-Yosef was his can­di­date to be­come his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser – or­ches­trated one of the most ex­ten­sive cor­rup­tion cases in the his­tory of the Is­raeli de­fense es­tab­lish­ment.

It is too early to tell what dam­age this will cause Is­rael over­seas. What will hap­pen, for ex­am­ple, the next time Is­rael ne­go­ti­ates a multi-bil­lion-dol­lar deal with the In­di­ans or some South Amer­i­can coun­try? How will Is­rael’s in­ter­na­tional part­ners know that they can trust their Is­raeli de­fense counterparts?

Steps need to be taken now to en­sure that sim­i­lar cases don’t hap­pen in the fu­ture. Now is the time to re­view pro­to­cols and tighten re­stric­tions to pre­vent fu­ture cor­rup­tion within the IDF and the De­fense Min­istry.

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