politics of Palestine and Israel from time to time overshadow the
politics of Iraq. The recent developments with the big guns
accepting the Israeli disengagement plan, has not gone down too well
as it tends to disregard the Palestinian sensibilities. Mohan
Guruswamy a regular contributor to our website has sent us this
piece which presents an opposite point of view.
Intelligence Scandal –– Irreversible Mental Damage
weeks ago, the international community made a shocking declaration.
Giving in to a demand by George Bush, the "Quartet"
accepted the "Revised Disengagement Plan" of Ariel Sharon.
This means that the United Nations, the European Union, the Russian
Federation and the United States confirmed this document. I wonder
if any one of the honorable diplomats has read the document with
their own eyes.
the first paragraph of the "plan", the following words
appear: "Israel has come to the conclusion that at present,
there is no Palestinian partner with whom it is possible to make
progress on a bilateral peace process."
is to say, the international community has confirmed that the
Palestinian people have no right to take part in the determination
of its own fate. Everything will be decided by the Government of
Israel alone, with the backing of the United States, whose position
will be automatically accepted by the other partners of the
European Union with its 25 member-states, the government of the
Russian Federation and the organization that represents the entire
world have humbly accepted the edict of Bush, the dictator of the
world, who is himself a captive of Sharon. Sharon decided long ago
that the elected president of the Palestinian people is
"irrelevant", together with the whole Palestinian
The Palestinian people have been eliminated from the list of
decision-makers, thereby also abolishing in practice all the
agreements signed with them, from Oslo to the Road Map.
This is a scandalous step, unprecedented in its dimensions, and it
passed without comment. Apart from Sharon and his minions, nobody
noticed the implications. The big boot of the international
community trod on the Palestinian people without even noticing it,
as if on an ant.
That is the culmination of a process that began with the return of
the then Prime minister, Ehud Barak, from the 2000 Camp David
summit. After the failure of that meeting, he coined the mantra that
has since become the cornerstone of the policy of successive Israeli
governments: "I have turned every stone on the way to peace/I
have offered the Palestinians more generous proposals than any of my
predecessors/The Palestinians have rejected all my offers/Arafat
wants to throw us into the sea/We have no partner for peace."
mantra is based on a series of lies that have been exploded long
ago. American eye-witnesses like Rober Malley, President Clinton's
advisor at Camp David, as well as some of the Israeli participants
and international researchers have published detailed reports that
prove that Barak himself was responsible for the failure at least as
much as Arafat - in fact, far more. And as if by coincidence, just
when the international community absent-mindedly accepted that the
Palestinian people is not a partner for peace, in Israel itself
things are happening that turn everything upside down.
High Priest of the "We Have No Partner" creed is General
(res.) Amos Gilad, who at the crucial time was chief of the research
section (and as such the No. 2) of the Army Intelligence Department.
Since army intelligence is the department solely responsible for the
"national security assessment", it has a decisive
influence on the formation of national policy.
army intelligence man reports directly to the Prime Minister and
takes part in cabinet meetings. No minister would dare to question
his assessments, which are the guiding star of the entire state. The
research chief of the intelligence department is supposed to submit
a professional summary of the huge amount of data amassed by the
intelligence community. Most ministers are forbidden to read the
written report, and even the few others are allowed only to glance
at it. Therefore, the oral summary presented by the chief of
research to the Prime Minister and the cabinet is of paramount
importance. Amos Gilad went even further: he appeared almost daily
in the media, commenting on almost every political and security
event. He was not only the "national assessor", but also
the "national explainer", as he was commonly called in the
Who is this man, who has had a greater influence than any other
person on the policies of Israel over the last few crucial years,
and whose kontsepsia (Hebrew for "conception") is still
directing the path of the state? This is the very same Amos Gilad
who some days ago claimed for himself the benefits due to disabled
army veterans. He was not wounded in battle, God forbid, but claimed
that the stress caused by his difficult job has inflicted on him
irreversible mental damage.
This claim involves a considerable amount of Chutzpah, if not worse.
But it also raises the question: This mental damage, when did it
start? When were the first symptoms observed? Was it when he started
endlessly repeating that Arafat wants to throw us into the sea? Or
was this declaration, perhaps, itself a symptom of his mental
problem? And how can he continue to fulfil his present duties?
last two weeks, Israel witnessed a stormy debate that should have
shaken the very foundations of the state.
former chief of Army Intelligence, General (res.) Amos Malka, who
was the direct superior of Gilad, broke his silence of many years
and published a thunderous accusation: that Amos Gilad arrived at
his "kontseptsia" without any intelligence basis
whatsoever. On the contrary, the huge amount of information
collected by the intelligence department indicated the very
opposite. That is to say, Gilad freely invented his intelligence
reports, based on his political views and/or on the desire to please
his political bosses, Barak and Sharon.
grave accusation raised a storm in professional circles.
Intelligence operatives of undoubted integrity emerged from their
anonymity in order to support Malka publicly. They were headed by
the man who, at the relevant time, was in charge of the Army
Intelligence section for Palestinian affairs, Colonel Ephraim Lavie,
who was then responsible for the collection of all intelligence
material about the Palestinian leadership. There is no doubt that in
the professional confrontation between Amos and Amos, Amos Malka
emerged as the victor. This means, in simple words: there was no
intelligence material at all backing the assertion that Arafat is
working for the destruction of the State of Israel, that Arafat had
broken off the peace process in order to start a terror campaign,
that Arafat is not ready for a reasonable compromise. All these
assertions, uttered by diverse Israeli politicians and generals,
were based on the "assessment" of one man who, while
appearing to represent the intelligence department, was actually
suppressing the considered professional reports of his own
department, as well as of the General Security Service (Shabak).
When the debate heated up, the orientalist Matti Steinberg, a former
advisor on Palestinian affairs to the chief of theShabak, joined the
fray. Steinberg not only confirmed that Gilad's "kontseptsia"
was completely false and contradicted the intelligence material
assembled by his own people, but he also asserted that Gilad's
conception "fulfilled its own prophecy".
Israel is immeasurably stronger than the Palestinians, its actions
create reality. The acts guided by Gilad's "kopntseptsia"
created results that suited it. Much as the "kontseptsia"
of Eli Za'ira, the intelligence chief at the time of the Yom Kippur
war, resulted in catastrophe, thus the "kontseptsia" of
Amos Gilad caused - and is still causing - the disasters of the
1973 intelligence conception was that Egypt would not dare to attack
Israel, causing all the glaringly obvious signs to the contrary to
be ignored, thus preventing adequate preparations and resulting in
the death of 3000 Israeli soldiers. Since than the Hebrew word
"kontseptsia" has assumed an almost obscene connotation in
Israel.) As of now, Gilad's immediate superior (Malka) and his
immediate subordinate (Lavie) both accuse him of presenting his
personal opinions, which were unsupported by any intelligence
backing, as if they were the official assessment of the intelligence
has caused irreversible damage. His mantra was accepted by the vast
majority of Israelis, as well as a large part of international
public opinion. Its exposure in professional circles will not alter
this fact. Indeed, the recent decision of the "Quartet"
shows how deeply entrenched this lie has become throughout the
the way, these revelations show that the secret assessment of the
highest professional echelons of the Army Intelligence Department
and Shabak were practically identical with the assessments published
at the time by Gush Shalom, which were met with total disbelief by
the media and the public, including a large part of the "peace
camp". To wit, that the Palestinian leadership, headed by
Arafat, has never wavered from its readiness to make peace with
Israel based on the creation of a Palestinian state on 97% of the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip (which together make 22% of historic
Palestine), with territorial compensation for the remaining 3% and
sovereignty over East Jerusalem and the Haram-al-Sharif
("Temple Mount"). The refugee problem would be solved by
agreement with Israel (meaning: Israel will have a veto on any
The experts of army intelligence and the security service, too,
agree that Arafat has not wavered from this position. On this basis,
peace can be achieved even now, as Arafat himself confirmed this
week in a fascinating interview with the new editor of Haaretz,
David Landau. Ariel Sharon denies this, of course, because he is not
ready for peace on these terms. He wants to annex at least 55% of
the West Bank, hoping that the life of the Palestinians in the
remaining 45% will become so impossible that they will leave the
country of their own accord. Shimon Peres is eager to help him in
the realization of this design.
that, Sharon needs the "We Have No Partner" mantra. Amos
Gilad delivered the goods. Now the "Quartet" has accepted
it, bringing shame on itself and obstructing the search for peace.
(Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, member of Gush Shalom and
contributor to The Politics of Anti-Semitism.)