Home > Diplomacy, Israeli Neoconservatism, Jerusalem > Searching for scapegoats, Netanyahu now tries to label Kadima a fifth-column

Searching for scapegoats, Netanyahu now tries to label Kadima a fifth-column

Diskin

In May 2007, the current head of Israel’s internal security agency, the General Security Service (GSS aka Shabak and Shin Bet), Yuval Diskin, unilaterally revolutionized his agency’s mandate.  Disken was responding to a request by Adalah to clarify the scope of the GSS’s authority to investigate Israeli citizens, Haaretz reported:

The Shin Bet security service believes it is within its charter to carry out surveillance operations, such as phone taps, on individuals deemed as “conducting subversive activity against the Jewish identity of the state,” even if their actions are not in violation of the law.

The announcement was made a month before the 40th anniversary of 1967 war, the moment when Israel became a border-less country embroiled in a never ending internal security war. Under these conditions, it may have been just a matter of time before unaccountable security services inserted themselves into the political sphere of a nation lacking a constitution and a bill of rights. Indeed, Diskin was probably only formally publicizing a long standing practice.

Still, the fact that this development barely registered in the Israeli public debate was remarkable. Part of the explanation for the silence is that those with the power to influence this debate — Jewish Israelis — did not feel threatened. The GSS was investigating the politics of Palestinian citizens. Jews were immune. No comparison and all that, but those who remained silent then are now learning that Martin Niemoller’s lesson, as expressed in “First they came,” is applicable anywhere a society allows the freedoms of minorities to be compromised.

Even when the GSS became a tool in the latest incarnation of the government-sponsored, NGO Monitor-led, campaign to suppress the Israeli human rights community — Im Tirzu’s assault on the NIF — the “mainstream” opposition was nowhere to be found. Nor was the silence broken yesterday (March 24 2010), when politicians called on the security agency to investigate Peace Now for treason, because of the suspicion that it had leaked the embarrassing story of new East Jerusalem construction just ahead of the Obama-Netanyahu summit.

Ramon

Therefore, it is hard to resist a little Schadenfreude that a senior Kadima leader — Haim Ramon — is the latest victim of creeping fifth-columnization, now apparently a convenient weapon even in run-of-the-mill coalition-opposition fracas.

This morning’s media (March 25 2010) was a PR disaster for Netanyahu: Everywhere  the Prime Minister’s trip to US was billed as a fiasco. Everywhere, that is, except Sheldon Adelson’s Israel Hayom, whose front-page provided a scapegoat (full translated text at bottom):

The senior officials say that according to information recently obtained by intelligence agencies that was placed on the desk of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak, Ramon is working with senior PA officials to prevent negotiations from being launched between Jerusalem and Ramallah.  According to this information, PA sources confirmed this.  It was also said that other figures in Kadima might be partners Ramon’s activity.  Political sources say that Ramon has been urging Palestinian and European figures to wait for Kadima to come to power, saying that this would make it possible to launch negotiations under better conditions for them.

In 2007, by the way, the government was lead by Kadima and Ramon was one of the most influential figures in the party.

—–

Officials: Ramon working with PA to obstruct the start of peace negotiations

Matti Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom, March 25 2010 [front-page]

Kadima Council Chairman Haim Ramon is working to sabotage the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians — say high-ranking political officials.

The senior officials say that according to information recently obtained by intelligence agencies that was placed on the desk of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak, Ramon is working with senior PA officials to prevent negotiations from being launched between Jerusalem and Ramallah.  According to this information, PA sources confirmed this.  It was also said that other figures in Kadima might be partners Ramon’s activity.  Political sources say that Ramon has been urging Palestinian and European figures to wait for Kadima to come to power, saying that this would make it possible to launch negotiations under better conditions for them.

Likud sources recently said that Ramon is surrounded by a number of people with whom he maintains close friendships.  Some of them want the Netanyahu government to fall, and the actions of the [former] MK serve these friends in one way or another.  Among the figures who could benefit from the fall of the government: Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes, former minister Aryeh Deri and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.  MK Ramon denied this, but a senior Kadima member confirmed the details last night.  “Ramon has been engaged in intrigues in the Palestinian Authority and is preventing the start of the peace negotiations to the best of his ability,” a senior Kadima source said yesterday, “he believes that this will topple Netanyahu.”

Ramon said in response, “woe to a country whose leaders, through the ‘Bibi-paper’ known as Israel Hayom, disseminate unsubstantiated nonsense in a desperate attempt to excuse the fact that the prime minister and the defense minister have caused Israel to sink to the deepest diplomatic low in many years.”  Sources in Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s bureau said that “this is delusional and untrue.”  Sources in Peace Now, who were apparently the ones who conveyed the report to the media about the construction in Sheikh Jarrah, said that they did not work in coordination with Ramon on the matter.  MK Ophir Akunis of the Likud said yesterday that “there are clear indications that Kadima and its advisers played a major role in publicizing the construction in Jerusalem.” […]

About these ads
  1. March 25, 2010 at 16:07

    Gadzooks. Tapping phones. This is a slippery slope, folks. Mr. Diskin won’t be featured on http://www.leadel.net anytime soon, I can tell you that. What an anti-democratic creep.

  2. Alan
    April 6, 2010 at 16:01

    So Israel’s main intelligence agency is tapping the phones of it’s negotiating partner/adversary/enemy and we’re “shocked, shocked, that there’s gambling going on in this establishment”??? I should hope it’s tapping the phones of everyone in the Palestinian Authority! So it should delete the tapes when an Israeli politician calls them and tries to persuade them to refuse to negotiate? You seem to have such a blind hatred of the Israeli government that you can’t see the forest for the trees! That sounds like something Israeli negotiators ought to know–as well as the American government that is working so hard to get negotiations started.

    • April 6, 2010 at 16:58

      Alan,

      The issue here is not the information collection, but the leaking of the report (very clearly by the either Netanyahu’s people or Barak’s) for political purposes.

      Best,

      Didi

      • Alan
        April 6, 2010 at 17:58

        Didi,

        Respectfully, your reply is only consistent with the title of the blog post, NOT your body, which emphasizes the impropriety of the Shin Bet listening to a phone call that included Haim Ramon while not suspected of a crime and your taking delight in Ramon’s pain (Schadenfreude).

        Furthermore, even if the issue was public release of the information, the purported “political benefit” is incidental to the proper release of information for diplomatic reasons. Although it’s conceivably possible, but very unlikely, that the US could be informed without the information going public, releasing it publicly seems to be the most prudent strategy for Israel to pressure the Palestinian Authority into returning to negotiations–or at least making clear (globally) which party is stalling.

        I simply disagree with you. I think you were reaching a little bit to throw blame back on Netanyahu for the stalled peace negotiations when your smoking gun suggests it is the Palestinians who are resisting negotiations for political benefit.

        Respectfully,
        Alan

      • April 6, 2010 at 18:11

        Alan,

        If the international community is the target audience, rather than the the Israeli public, why publish in Hebrew by leaking to Yisarel Hayom — a low-brow tabloid — rather than to an international outlet or to an English-language Israeli daily accessible to the international community? For that matter, why make the story about Ramon rather than about the Palestinian Authority? Isn’t your hypothesis something of a stretch?

        I take your point regarding the headline/body discrepancy. My argument is about the politicization of the GSS and the danger that poses to Israeli democracy, and that what goes round comes round. I’m agnostic about the ups and downs of the diplomatic process and its associated blame game. However, I do think it’s fair, in this context, to assert that the leak is a transparent attempt to use a friendly media outlet in order to to relieve pressure from a generally very hostile media environment. That in itself is legitimate, my problem is the use of the GSS.

        Respectfully,

        Didi

  1. March 25, 2010 at 16:56

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 367 other followers

%d bloggers like this: