Friday, August 13, 2010
Lessons of the Perlman Affair
1. Want a probe? Probe the REAL disaster!
Probe the 'peace process'
Op-ed: Instead of probing flotilla incident, Israel should focus on truly momentous failures
These days, Israel is home to intensive acts of scrutiny that had already graced the country with the dubious label of "a state of all its inquiries." One should not disparage the need for commissions of inquiry, as long as their purpose is to identify the reasons for failures, in order to prevent them from repeating. The personal aspect should be secondary.
Regrettably, the shallow media (and mostly the electronic kind) seeks blood and wants to see heads roll – if possible along with a change of government not via the natural ballot-based way. The last days, where our leaders testified before the needless Turkel committee, constitute an example of turning the essence – prevention of repeated failures – into the insignificant, while turning the insignificant – a witch hunt, especially against those disliked by the media – into the essence.
If there is a desirable and beneficial outcome for commissions of inquiry, it's the improvement in decision-making processes, and especially the integration of a risk assessment process – in advance – in respect to any operations of this type. Committees that would assess risks in advance, before making and implementing a decision, can spare us the failures, their cost, and subsequent commissions of inquiry.
In the case at hand, stopping the Turkish terror ship was an important act and the objective was achieved, yet the risks that could reasonably be assumed to exist on board the vessel were not predicted, thereby complicating the raid's execution. In fact, the working assumption was that no mishaps were expected.
Reckless media to blame
Indeed, we should be improving the decision-making process. Yet regrettably, the gravest decisions in Israel's history were taken without proper consideration, without profound public debate, without an appropriate, serious risk assessment, and through disregard for those who in real-time sounded the alarm regarding expected risks (which ultimately fully materialized and were much graver than the damages caused by the incident currently examined by the Turkel Committee.)
I am referring both to the "peace process," which as opposed to the delusions spread by the false prophets who marketed it prompted the Oslo War, and to the Gaza Disengagement, which did not only turn Jews into refugees in their own country, but also worsened Israel's diplomatic and security situation, ultimately leading up to the terror flotilla and its outcome.
The decision-making processes in these two fateful cases lacked a simultaneous process of risk assessment, as well as an advance decision regarding the kind of circumstances that would halt the execution of these decisions. In both cases, no exit strategies were formulated. Moreover, the cost was not estimated in advance – both in terms of casualties as well as in diplomatic, security, and economic terms.
In both cases, even after the grave implications were revealed, no conclusions were drawn on the organizational or personal level. Indeed, our leaders – including the current ones – are plotting to continue in the directions that had been proven to be erroneous. In these cases too, the working assumption was that mishaps are not expected.
Yet it is precisely these two fateful cases that prompted no official commissions of inquiry even retroactively, after the extent of the failure was revealed to all. The reckless media, which marketed both the "peace process" and the "disengagement" enthusiastically and uncritically, without demanding an advance risk assessment and without strongly cautioning us of the risks, are also the ones that kept silent later and silenced the failures after the fact – in order to avoid revealing the kind of misdeeds they were party to, both in advance and retroactively.
Dr. Ron Breiman is the former chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel
2. Have you noticed how few of the media reports on the "Israeli serial killer" arrested in Atlanta mention he is an Arab?
3. If - like me - you grew up being inundated in the near-worship of demigod Rachel Carson and her environmental activism, you might find this of interest:
4. So let us sum up the Perlman affair. About 12 years back, two Arabs were murdered in Jerusalem. The police were unable to track down the killer(s). They suspected radical right-wing Jews from the Kahanist splinters. After all, Kahanists are routinely involved in evil things like wearing racist Tee shirts that carry anti-Arab slogans.
A few weeks back, the "Jewish Section" of the Shin Bet decided that Chaim Perlman was the killer. He is a Kahanist radical and activist. The "Jewish Section" of the Shin Bet stalks and monitors Jewish right-wingers and "settler" activists. It increased its surveillance activities after the murder of Rabin by Yigal Amir. It NEVER, I repeat NEVER, monitors or carries out surveillance against radical Israeli Jewish leftists involved in espionage and treason.
The leftist media had a field day. The very same newspapers who obsessively refer to all Arab mass murderers of Jews as "activists" and militants" went hog wild denouncing the "Jewish terrorist." They suddenly discovered the "T" word!
It is not clear just what the Shin Bet had on Perlman, but the young Perlman was whisked away about a month ago to prison, held incommunicado, prevented from meeting a lawyer for 15 days. Not a single "human rights" NGO in Israel or abroad protested the denial of habeas corpus in the case. Three of Perlman's friends were also arrested, evidently suspected of being his friends. One wag is now selling "Arrest Me! I am a Friend of Chaim Perlman" tee shirts and bumper stickers.
Well, as it turns out the Shin Bet had no evidence at all that Perlman was the killer, at least none it could present in court. After being held for a month, the same Petah Tikva court that had issued the arrest warrant at the Shin Bet's request has ordered Perlman released, proclaiming that no incriminating evidence had been submitted to the court (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/139024) . The prosecution appealed and the court upheld the release order. See http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/139082 Perlman, for what it is worth, claims the Shin Bet was trying to frame him as part of its efforts to demonize right-wingers (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/138601 ).
Here is an idea. Instead of hounding "right-wingers," maybe the "Jewish section" of the Shin Bet should leave the investigation of suspected Jewish criminals to the police, and meanwhile investigate the REAL threats to Israeli security coming from Jews, the growing plague of leftist Jewish treason and espionage!
Leftists are already whining that if Perlman is released, then so should be the two Israeli Arabs now in prison for participating in an espionage ring. In other words, if Israel releases an innocent Jew then why should it not also release guilty Arabs?
5. So the Turks are upset because Israel is blockading Gaza until the Gaza barbarians release the kidnapped soldier and because they fire rockets every week into Israel. And the Turks are upset because Israel used armed force against the armed terrorists on the Flotilla ships. Well, now Der Spiegel, the leading German news magazine, reveals that Turkey has been using poison gas weapons of mass destruction against its own Kurdish population:
6. Israel's academic leftist fascism: http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/44818
7. Daniel Schorr's Big Lie: http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/44814
8. The Left's War against Israel and against Freedom of Speech:
The war on de-legitimization
Op-ed: We must name, shame hardcore anti-Israel activists who use façade of morality
Gerald M. Steinberg
The political war aimed at delegitimizing Israel, and at preventing the IDF from acting to stop terror attacks, is now recognized as a major threat. These are not the sentiments of alarmists; this is the conclusion drawn by Eitan Haber, a close advisor to prime ministers, including Yitzhak Rabin ("IDF isn't enough in face of global de-legitimization campaign faced by Israel.")
Haber's analysis only scratches the surface of the de-legitimization campaign waged against Israel. These efforts are not new; since the 2001 UN "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban, South Africa – international NGOs and some within Israel have introduced into the public lexicon slogans referring to Israel as an "apartheid state" guilty of "war crimes" that does not have the right to exist.
The campaign is gaining strength, and as Haber notes the importance of mobilizing the Jewish people "to fight back against the ubiquitous de-legitimization process, against the indifference, and possibly also against the despair among us."
Examples of NGO campaigns are, unfortunately, plentiful. The recent "Free Gaza" flotilla incident demonstrated the sophisticated use of the "humanitarian," "peace" and "non-governmental" labels to cover a preplanned attack on IDF soldiers, resulting in injuries and deaths. Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation) – a Turkish "charity" with close links to Hamas, jihadist groups, and the Turkish government – led the efforts in this instance.
Working with European and American anti-Israel campaigners, including the confrontational International Solidarity Movement (ISM), they tapped into a wider diplomatic and political campaign driven by the false charges of "war crimes" and "collective punishment."
NGOs orchestrate these incidents, stripping away the context of terror and hate, and placing Israel and its supporters on the defensive. This strategy is coupled with ongoing efforts, such as the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, to single out and isolate Israel.
A parallel tactic, promulgated by Israeli-Arab NGO Adalah (funded by the New Israel Fund -NIF and the European Union) portrays "Israel as an inherent undemocratic state." Similarly, NGO "lawfare" cases against Israeli officials in foreign courts attempt to delegitimize the Israeli justice system.
Detailed research reports published by NGO Monitor document the damage caused by powerful NGOs that use the façade of liberal agendas, and the funders that enable these campaigns. European governments provide tens of millions of dollars annually, without the necessary transparency, to many of these NGOs.
'Soft power' war
Many of these groups, including the NIF, are attempting to prevent the Knesset from adopting legislation that would provide transparency regarding how and where NGOs receive their funding. These groups fear that they too would lose their funding and impact, and placed their private agendas and interests above the right of the public to know who is paying for the de-legitimization efforts.
Haber's is a welcomed voice, joining the growing mainstream chorus that has highlighted the power of NGOs in the "soft power" war against Israel. Other prominent liberals in the US - including NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who echoed the criticism of Human Rights Watch by founder Robert Bernstein -have criticized the "foul… trend, both deliberate and inadvertent, to delegitimize Israel - to turn it into a pariah state, particularly in the wake of the Gaza war."
Criticism and debate on particular policies is an appropriate part of all democratic societies. Blanket de-legitimization is not. The fact that Friedman, Bernstein, Haber, and others are calling attention to this danger shows that the mainstream Left and Right in Israel and the Diaspora have found an issue around which they can unify.
It also means those who care about Israel should follow their lead and take action. This includes demanding the implementation of NGO funding guidelines based on transparency and assurance that their donations will not be used for de-legitimization. Other guidelines reject the BDS campaign and international "lawfare" cases in all forms and arenas; offer criticisms of Israel in proper context; and use the vast resources available to assist those whose human rights truly are being infringed upon, in Iran, Sudan, Europe, and elsewhere, but are overshadowed by the obsessive emphasis on Israel
Haber's call for a military-type effort and a "huge body" to "fight back" against the de-legitimization process is understandable. But size is less important than intelligence, in both senses of the word. Israel and the Jewish people, working in partnership, need to think and act strategically, to name and shame the hardcore anti-Israel activists who use the façade of morality to promote their racism.
The funders and enablers, particularly the anonymous officials in European governments, need to be similarly exposed. In parallel, we need alliance with those who agree on the wider principles of Israel's place among the nations, despite polity differences, including on settlements and other issues.
The alternative to this war strategy would consign us to watching from the sidelines as Israel's place among the nations erodes further, and our ability to defend citizens against mass terror becomes more difficult. This alternative, as Eitan Haber has discovered, is unacceptable.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg is president of NGO Monitor and professor of Political Science at Bar Ilan University