To really understand who Benny Gantz is and the type of political leader he might very well be, I want to take us back to October 1, 2000, a day that will forever be remembered as the onset of the Second Intifada.
I was personally there, serving in the IDF as the Divisional Mental Health officer of the Regional Command Headquarters and Brigadier General Gantz was my commander. I was present during these critical hours in the operations room when Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef) was under siege and IDF Sergeant Madhat Yusef was shot by Palestinian Arab terrorists.
Madhet Yusef bled to death over a period of three and a half hours during an attack by a mob of Palestinian Arabs at the complex containing Joseph’s Tomb on the outskirts of the 'West Bank' City of Nablus. Israeli forces were only a few minutes away and could have saved him and rescued the remaining soldiers. The Israeli forces were never given the order by Benny Gantz, the Regional Commander, to enter Nablus and save Madhat Yusef.
During these intense and nerve wracking hours, surveillance drones buzzed above Joseph’s Tomb broadcasting in real time what was happening below; at the Samarian brigade headquarters, a tank battalion had been assembled and two columns of Merkavot tanks were in place waiting for the order to enter Nablus to rescue Madhat Yusef and the other soldiers under siege in Joseph’s Tomb.
The family of Madhat Yusef belong to Israel’s Druze Community, and have sent their sons to serve in the IDF throughout Israel’s 70 years of existence. They have publicly criticized Benny Gantz and have held him personally responsible for abandoning their son and brother, since he was the senior Commander in place and was ultimately responsible for not giving the order to save Yusef. Why did Brigadier General Gantz not give the order to save Madhat Yusef?
At the time, Ehud Barak, the head of the Israeli Labor Party, was Prime Minister and acting Defense Minister. The Israeli Labor Party, was the chief proponent of the Oslo Agreement, ignoring the dangers and the uptick in Palestinian terror already taking its toll on the Israeli public as a result of the Oslo Agreements. Nablus is part of the Palestinian Authority created by Oslo and in theory, according to those agreements, the Palestinian Arab police force was in charge.
Despite the warnings of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party, the leftist Labor Party was willing to demand sacrifices from the Israeli public so that the Oslo Agreements would be implemented. Did this willingness to save the Oslo agreement at any cost permeate the IDF’s top brass? Did the withholding of the order to save Madhet Yusef on the part of Brigadier Benny Gantz reflect a politicization of what should have been a purely operational decision?
Gantz had in the past expressed sorrow at Madhat’s death, but asserted that dispatching a rapid rescue force would have led to many Palestinian Arab casualties and that only the commanders at the scene could fully grasp all the considerations. Can we and should we assume that “all the considerations” include pressure from Ehud Barak to refrain from any action that could escalate and endanger the Oslo Agreement. In retrospect it seems that giving the order to send in a battalion of tanks or order in Black Hawk Helicopters would most likely have resulted in many Palestinian Arabs wounded and dead, leading to the cessation of the Oslo Agreement and causing Ehud Barak and the Labor Party to lose public support for their leftist agenda.
From this sordid event that has tainted the IDF for close to two decades, we can make reasonable assumptions about Benny Gantz, the politician in the current election cycle, in which he has bent over backwards to present his political party as belonging to the political center. His candidacy has been supported by all of Israel’s mainstream media, broadcasted as well as printed. Israel’s liberal elite and old guard have all come out in support of Gantz. All bastions of leftist ideology and in direct opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud conservative political platform.
In today’s political jungle, political policies are expedient and don’t really matter. Media advisors help their candidates to present their policies in the same manner as a product is branded, aiming to reach the largest audience of consumers in this case voters. In this election cycle it seems as if Benny Gantz has enabled his PR advisors to operate by guessing what the public want to hear and shaping his political message in accordance to it. In this manner, we get for all intents and purposes, a political candidate who looks majestic like a horse, but in actuality is a Trojan horse of the left.
Benny Gantz has zero experience in statesmanship, no real economic education or understanding of how the global market operates, no real understanding of Israel’s role in being a world leader in innovation; technology, food production, medicine, water preservation, and the list goes on and on. One would never know about Benny Gantz’s lack of basic knowledge or experience needed to be the leader of Israel by listening to the media. Authenticity is irrelevant, identity politics is a thing of the past, for all intents and purposes those who vote Gantz will be voting for a candidate who has been marketed as sparkling, shiny, and something new for the Israeli public to digest. Nothing like a new and improved product, irresistible!
Benny Gantz the politician does what he is told to do. From speaking with respect for the current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and immediately afterwards condemning Netanyahu who served as an officer in Sayeret Matkal and risked his life many times over in operational missions, and get this; for honing his English while Gantz was laying his life on the line. One could sense the discomfort on the part of Gantz, he knew that he was reading a script written by a media advisor and it had nothing to do with the truth, but he did it anyway.
If elected, Benny Gantz will do what he is told to do. He will play a role dictated by advisors, senior associates, and political partners. Benny Gantz has never been a maverick nor exhibited an ability to dictate policy. He has always been a team player and takes “into consideration” viewpoints of his team who by the way are clearly in the leftist side of the political map. Benny Gantz will abandon any semblance of being in the center soon after the elections and will be only the most recent Trojan horse on behalf of those that who want to oust one and for all Benjamin Netanyahu from power.
The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer. Prior to retiring in 2005, served as the Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psycho education programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. He was former strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria.
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