Daily Israel Report

Reaction to the Four Shabak Heads

Some feel that the line between news and propaganda was irrecoverably blurred this past Friday, when 4 former Shabak heads appeared in a unique joint interview with Yediot Acharonot to communicate their political message.
First Publish: 11/16/2003, 3:40 PM

News - or propaganda? Some feel that the line between the two was irrecoverably blurred this past Friday, when four former General Security Service heads appeared in a unique joint interview with Yediot Acharonot to communicate their political message. "We are on our way to catastrophe," blared the headline, atop a posed picture of the four.

Avraham Shalom, Yaakov Perry, Carmi Gilon, and Ami Ayalon - the four immediate predecessors of current GSS head Avi Dichter - used the newspaper (or vice-versa) to explain that Israel's military policies toward the Arabs of the PA were counter-productive, and that Israel must instead reach a diplomatic agreement with them. "We are taking sure and steady steps towards a situation where the State of Israel will no longer be a democracy and a home for the Jewish people," said Ami Ayalon, while Gilon chipped in that the government is "dealing solely with the question of how to prevent the next terrorist attack" instead of "how we get out of the mess we find ourselves in today."

Yediot was very proud of the coverage its story had received around the world. "Worldwide Echo for the Warning of 4 Shabak Heads in Yediot Acharonot" blared a headline in the paper today, continuing, "Almost all the important media in the world granted extensive coverage to the interview that was publicized over the weekend." Today's article noted that CNN, ABC, and Foxnews had called the interview "courageous and unique criticism of the policies of Prime Minister Sharon." The paper seemed pleased to note that the CNN headline was, "Shabak Heads Call for Peace with Palestinians." It further gloated that the Washington Post had chosen to post a photo of "Palestinians standing next to protest graffiti on the partition wall of Abu Dis," with the headline, "Shabak Heads Attack Sharon: The Government Policy Fans Hatred."

In fact, however, their opinion is far from the consensus. Minister Gideon Ezra said today that the four Shabak heads claim to see future dangers, "but the security services have not been very accurate in the recent past in seeing dangers. They did not foresee the first intifada, or the second intifada, nor did they see the dangers of the Oslo process or of allowing Arafat and his gang to come here... Who says that their view of the future now is more trustworthy than that of the government, or of that of IDF Intelligence?"

Former leading GSS official MK Ehud Yatom, speaking with Arutz-7 this morning, similarly said,
"I do not agree with their analysis. Never in history has a country been defeated by terrorism like this, and certainly not the State of Israel. I think they exaggerated in their description... [There are] other leading defense officials who feel that the situation is truly not so stark, there is no danger of the State collapsing, that terrorism must be fought, and that we will not give territories away as gifts while they continue to terrorize us here and around the world. We must stop thinking in terms of 'restraint as a component of strength,' but rather it's a 'component of weakness' - and we will see results. We have seen this work with Hamas, which suddenly decided that Israelis in Green Line Israel are no longer targets..."

Arutz-7's Emanuel Shilo noted, "Critics feel that the Sharon government is not advancing any initiatives, but is rather waiting for something - we don't know what - to happen."

Yatom: "Eh, what type of initiative did you have in mind, Emanuel?"

Shilo: "I don't know, that's why we have leaders, as you know."

Yatom: "I think that the Sharon government is doing what it has to do, and that is to deal with the main problem facing us - terrorism - and fighting it day by day. I have ideas, just like these other private initiatives, like the Geneva initiative and the pilots' letter, but in sum I feel that we are on the right path, in which terrorism will have stopped, and then we will be ready for diplomatic progress. I don't think that Abu Ala or any of his ilk should be here - they need a new leadership - and this is part of my criticism that I hinted at before, and as long as he's here, I don't think terrorism will stop, and we will have to defend ourselves. But we have to make attempts so that he will stop terrorism, and if he succeeds, only then will we deal with him."

Former President Ezer Weizman was scornfully critical of the four Shabak leaders. "The ones who are leading us to catastrophe are 'heroes' such as these four musketeers in Yediot Acharonot," he said.