Anat Kamm and the Peacock Incident
Since the gag order was lifted last Thursday(April 8 2010), the Israeli public debate has been largely engaged in indignant verbal stoning of whistle-blower Anat Kamm and journalist Uri Blau. The most vicious attacks have focused on the treasonous criminality of the theft (Kamm) and possession (Blau) of classified documents. Indeed, Kamm has been charged with “aggravated espionage.”
A few writers (albeit mostly bloggers and Haaretz columnists) have tried to provide some reasonable context. In a country where the army is so closely integrated in society as it is in Israel, classified documents in civilian, certainly journalistic, hands are a very common occurrence. Noam Sheizaf and Amitai Sandy note how a similar incident from the recent past was closed with an ultra-light sentence and little fanfare, Yossi Gurvitch (summarized by Dimi Reider here) provides a catalog of very senior Israeli officials with a proven record of leaking top-secret documents and Yossi Melman reminds readers that the Deputy Chief of the Mossad received a slap on the wrist for a related offense.
Writing in Haaretz this morning (April 14 2010,) Aluf Benn neatly wraps this line of argument:
Let’s keep things in proportion…In a country where everyone serves in the army, all are exposed to sensitive information that cannot be erased or forgotten. Every plane of Israeli tourists abroad carries far more state secrets than Kamm’s lost compact discs…Even the closest-guarded secrets seem ludicrous in hindsight.
Satire should also have made a contribution. Sadly, there is not much of that left in today’s Israel. Eretz Nehederet (“It’s a Wonderful Country”) Channel Two TV’s Friday night program, which occasionally has a biting skit in its lineup, was off last week.
Coteret readers may remember up and coming Israeli journalist Danit Gottfried, who broke the news that Pastor John Hagee was funding Im Tirzu, the group behind the NIF smear campaign. Gottfried is now trying to rectify this situation. Proclaiming “One document found, 1,999 to go” (Kamm reportedly took 2,000 documents), she posted on her Facebook wall a classified document found in the depths of the Ynet website (apparently an old hoax, but, with its uncanny replication of IDF-speak mentality, could easily pass for an original.)
Although it’s stamped “guarded” — second level classification — the memo deals with an incident one would have difficulty describing as secret and still maintain a straight face. Read the full translation below (click on the image to see the original document in Hebrew.) It’s funny stand-alone, but doubly so in the current context. Indeed, as Gottfried’s post spreads quickly on Facebook Israelis are crowd-sourcing comedy with wisecracking comments.
— Guarded [“Shamur” classification”] —
Re: Soldier attacked by peacock during Sunday culture day
a. Description of the event: On September 9, 2005 the regiment went on a Sunday culture day to the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem. During the visit one of the soldiers provoked a peacock on display at the zoo and was attacked by it.
b. The parties involved:
i. Yigal Zaguri 72924690
ii. A peacock from the Biblical Zoo
a. Soldier Yigal Zaguri came on a visit to the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem during a Sunday culture day for the regiment.
b. At the beginning of the visit the soldiers were told to stay away from the animals roaming freely on display at the zoo.
c. While visiting the fowl area the soldier Yigal approached one of the peacocks and began provoking it.
d. The peacock who saw the soldier as a threat attacked him and lightly injured him in the foot.
3. Further findings:
a. The peacock is a male and saw the provocation as a territorial invasion.
b. Soldier Yigal Zaguri is known to be a problematic soldier.
c. During the provocation another soldier was present and threw stones at the peacock.
a. Cause: The attack occurred because the soldier provoked the animal.
b. Points for future attention: Commanders’ alertness to the event and quick treatment of the casualty.
c. Results: A light injury to soldier Yigal Zaguri’s foot.
4. Lessons and conclusions:
a. A safety briefing should be given before any Army visit to institutions where there is contact with animals.
b. Units should be instructed on contact with animals at the base.
c. Soldiers must understand the inadvisability of provoking peacocks.
For immediate distribution in all IDF command courses
Daniel Peleg, Sergeant