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Haaretz | Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Moshe Arens

A professional, public inquiry

We will never know the full details of the Ben Zygier affair. It involves secrets having to do with Israeli intelligence and operations secrets which, if exposed to enemies of the state, could cause Israel tremendous damage. Thus it is unlikely that these secrets will ever be published, as doing so would harm the Mossads methods even more than they have been already. The responsibility for this damage falls on the Mossads people and those who are supposed to supervise them not on the media, which has operated within the law. But troubling questions were raised after Israel was forced to officially admit that an Israeli-Australian security prisoner had been held in extreme solitary confinement, had outwitted his prison guards and had put an end to his life. These burning questions will not allow the affair to be buried. Answers are demanded, even if not all of them are made public. It is necessary to launch a thorough investigation to ascertain how a man with questionable personality traits like Zygier was recruited to the Mossad. Has the bar for admission to this sensitive organization been lowered too much in the past decade? The investigation must look into the Mossads investigation procedures and its methods for drawing conclusions in order to ensure that errors are corrected. It must also look into the discourse between the Mossad and Shin Bet and especially their chiefs at the time to examine whether the Mossad had encouraged the Shin Bet to exert extreme emotional pressure on Zygier, which in turn contributed to his decision to commit suicide. Also, how did Zygier come to be held under conditions similar to those of the prime ministers murderer? Did the Prison Service have complete control over his fate, or should it have shared this control with the Mossad and Shin Bet? How do the prosecution and courts supervise the enforcement authorities? How much did the supervising outfits know in real time? The Subcommittee for Intelligence and Secret Services, within the Knessets Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, is not the appropriate body to lead such an investigation. In his first term as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu survived the Mossads failed operation to assassinate Khaled Meshal and the inquiry committee headed by former Foreign Ministry director general Yossi Ciechanover. The Meshal affair complicated Israels relations with Jordan. The Zygier affair complicated Israels relations with Australia. It is vital to probe the latter as well as the extent of Netanyahus knowledge of it, and the way his responsibility was implemented using similar methods.

Vain hope springs eternal

peace that has gone nowhere. Could it only be wishful thinking on Israels part that has allowed the Palestinians to make fools of it time after time? Obviously there are other motivations at work such as the feeling that we have no choice but to give in to pressure from the international community and offer concessions that would end this conflict once and for all. This is further reinforced by the Israel-bashing that is going on in much of Western Europe. Maybe this is a chance to become a respected member of the international community, no matter what the cost. Or perhaps this is the opportunity to end the occupation and rid ourselves of the Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria. They may not be better off after we withdraw, but who cares? That, after all, is their business. And those Israelis who live in the shadow of the

Amos Biderman | amosb@haaretz.co.il

Uzi Benziman

Bibis licking his fingers

ing this special arrangement in recent months until journalists put a stop to it. When the fourth estate wondered why the public should finance the prime ministers cravings, Netanyahus office announced that he had decided to cancel the arrangement because the sum was exorbitant and unacceptable to him. How odd. When did the sum become exorbitant? The prime minister himself or someone acting on his behalf reached the arrangement with the ice cream parlor and even agreed to a special contract, because its the only establishment that caters precisely to the prime ministers tastes. And how did the prime minister come to decide on February 14, 2013, that the sum was unacceptable to him, when it was not only acceptable but even imperative in the months leading up to the statement? There is another instructive paragraph in the statement issued by Netanyahus office. It states that the contract with the ice cream parlor was only a framework contract for hosting guests at the prime ministers official residence; it doesnt mean the entire sum will be used in practice. In other words, this desirable ice cream parlor wasnt necessarily catering to Netanyahus own personal tastes, but rather providing sweet treats to his guests. Well, if Netanyahu not only knows wholl be visiting him in the coming year, but also that their favorite flavors also happen to be vanilla sorbet and pistachio, then what do we need the Shin Bet and the Mossad for? Just like the construction workers in Naomi Shemers famous song, were dealing with a prime minister who is set in his ways. He and the people around him create situations in which a great deal of public money is used for lugging his private equipment around. They keep meticulous records of all personal gifts he receives while hes in office, only to sweep them all up at the end of his tenure. They get into confrontations with personal service providers over costs. They show indifference to the poor demonstrating near his residence. And when theyre criticized, his wife tries to hand out pizzas to them. They haggle over the size of the budget allocation for maintaining his Caesarea villa. They take advantage of his official travels abroad to satisfy their hedonistic appetites. And then, they stick the public with the bill. For Netanyahu, the public arena is a hunting ground for him to roam and from which to extract maximal personal gain. When hes caught redhanded, as he was with his ice cream bill, he invents excuses, traps himself with contradictions (if the ice cream was meant for official guests, why was the contract canceled?) and reacts with hysteria (the smoking cigar he tried to hide in his jacket pocket). Thats who he is. His private assets have been estimated at NIS 40 million, yet he continues to exploit the public coffers to satisfy his ice cream cravings. He has served as prime minister longer than any of his predecessors, yet still feels deprived, persecuted and eager to grab as many goodies for himself and his family as possible (like naming streets for his father and father-in-law). His conduct shows that he believes man is born into a hostile world where he must be on guard at all times, lest others conspire to steal what is rightly his. This is Netanyahus own personal mindset, but he applies it to the public arena as well: He believes the public owes him compensation for his sacrifices and must shower him with extraordinary luxuries. This is the worldview of a miserly, suspicious, anxious man who has no capacity for generosity or inner peace. A home life led with constant vigilance against anyone who might seek to conspire against him or deprive him of what he deserves, a home life marked by unceasing efforts to gain recognition and honor such a life necessarily fosters a smallminded, provincial outlook that cannot help but seep into the public sphere and come to the publics attention. Netanyahu is hardly the pride and glory of Israels citizens.

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court jester once told a king that an apology can sometimes be worse than the original offense. The king wondered how such a thing was possible, and the jester explained: Lets say youre going up the stairs. I creep up behind you and suddenly pinch your bottom. You turn around, furious, and I, flustered, apologize, Pardon me, Your Majesty, I thought it was the queen. This familiar tale comes to mind when reading the official statement issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late last week regarding his costly ice cream purchases. The statement announced that he would be canceling the budget item instructing the treasury to finance his annual ice cream purchases to the tune of NIS 10,000. Last year, it turns out, the Prime Ministers Office received special approval to allocate NIS 10,000 from the maintenance budget of the prime ministers residence to buy ice cream in two flavors vanilla sorbet and pistachio. Originally this expenditure wasnt included in the Netanyahu familys maintenance budget, but his aides managed to bypass the bureaucratic procedures transferring one budget item to another normally requires a tender and get the go-ahead to buy his favorite ice cream flavors from a neighborhood ice cream parlor. Netanyahu had been enjoy-

Hope springs eternal, wrote Alexander Pope, in An Essay on Man. And so it is with Israels hope for peace with the Palestinians. After every disappointment, hope rises again. When Yasser Arafat seemingly renounced terrorism at a press conference in Geneva in December 1988, we wanted to believe him. We signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, brought him and his minions from Tunis to Gaza and Ramallah only to find that he had by no means abandoned terrorism. In May 2000 we decided to unilaterally leave the South Lebanese security zone and abandon our allies, the South Lebanon Army, hoping that after the Israeli withdrawal Hezbollah would cease terrorist activity against Israel. We hoped it would become just another Lebanese political party, and we would have peace on our northern border. These hopes were in vain. Not only did Hezbollah not abandon terrorism against Israeli civilians, but the unilateral withdrawal was advertised by Hassan Nasrallah as a Hezbollah victory and perceived by the Palestinians as a sign of Israeli weakness. This in turn led to preparations for the second intifada. The second intifada was launched shortly after Ehud Barak offered Arafat, at Camp David in July 2000, the most far-reaching concessions ever proposed by an Israeli government. These concessions were rejected, and what followed was a wave of terror which brought suicide bombers into the streets of Israel and led to the death of over a thousand Israeli civilians. The Israel Defense Forces entry into Judea and Samaria put an end to it. We uprooted 8,000 Israelis from the Gush Katif settlement bloc hoping that this would further the peace process with the Palestinians. Instead, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip and rockets started raining down on the towns and villages of southern Israel. As they fell, Ehud Olmert conducted negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas, offering him everything Barak had offered Arafat. In addition, he agreed to a partial return of Palestinian refugees. That too was rejected. And so it went, one disappointment after another. As the saying goes, Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Israel has been fooled not once, not twice, but at least five times in a quest for

As the saying goes, Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Israel has been fooled not once, not twice, but at least five times in a quest for peace that has gone nowhere.
demographic demon, and do not want a single Arab added to the roster of Israels Arab citizens, will agree to almost anything to prevent such an eventuality. So now we have Mahmoud Abbas. He is a reformed terrorist who proclaims his desire to establish a Palestinian state by peaceful means. Is this not the opportunity that we and most of the rest of the world have been waiting for? He rejected Olmerts offer, but maybe we can sweeten the pill. There is only one problem. Abbas is not capable of fulfilling the two basic requirements Israel would demand in any agreement involving significant territorial concessions: First, that the agreement would constitute the end of the conflict and that no further Palestinian demands would be made of Israel. And second, that the territories ceded would not become bases for terrorist activities against Israel. Abbas cannot fulfill these requirements, and he knows it.

Zamir Dahbash and Shiri Perciger-Cohen

Gabi Sheffer

Get off my Facebook page

Religion and state stay apart

he social-justice protest of summer 2011 was a seminal event in Israeli history. What started with a small group of people pitching tents on Rothschild Boulevard and reached a peak with half a million people out in the streets had an indisputable effect on public discourse here. The evidence of that is the major role that social and economic issues played in the recent election campaign. But even as that change took place, another, less talked-about one happened as well: The leaders of the protest were marked by the Israel Police, which put their Facebook pages under surveillance and submitted them as evidence to the court (Haaretz, February 11, 2013). The Israel Police is not alone in these actions. In December 2012, The New York Times reported that according to FBI documents, FBI agents had been watching the members of the Occupy Wall Street movement since September 2011, exchanging information with employers, universities and police officials. The FBI regarded spying on the activists as part of the war on terror. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel believes that snooping on peoples Facebook pages is a worrisome symptom of the real problem: the way the police perceive the rights of assembly and free expression.

Even if the polices use of Facebook is only a symptom, its obvious that it should be dealt with immediately. Laws and regulations guiding the ways in which government authorities behave must adapt to the frequently changing definitions of privacy on social networks. On the one hand, when our Facebook pages are open to the world, we have no one but ourselves to complain to for having allowed everybody to see them. On the other hand, we need to recognize that Facebook is becoming a platform whose use and influence go far beyond the sharing of personal experiences. The question of who is looking at our Facebook pages becomes relevant in many contexts. Are potential employers allowed to look at the Facebook pages of potential employees? Can they ask interviewees to friend them? Can police operate on social networks under assumed names and profiles to keep track of social activists and even arrest them? Should Facebook be treated as the city square, where anything made public therefore becomes part of the public domain? Or should snooping on Facebook pages be treated like wiretapping, which requires permission from the court? A report released by Gartner Research predicts that by 2015, 60 percent of organizations will have formal programs to snoop on social-networking sites to

keep information secure and prevent electronic break-ins. Today, less than 10 percent of companies keep track of their employees social-networking profiles. In March of last year, Facebook announced that it was considering taking employers who had asked for the names and passwords of job candidates to court. So far, no law in Israel has been made that deals with employers spying on their employees over social networks. It appears that the issue will have to be decided by the Supreme Court following a petition on the matter, or by a bill proposed by young Knesset members those with active Facebook accounts which enabled them to win realistic slots on their parties Knesset lists. Until the closure of this loophole one that allows surfers on social networks to be treated as potential criminals to be spied on before they commit a crime the legislative authorities must incorporate the winds of change that are blowing through Israeli democracy, and not slide down the slippery slope of silencing people and invading private conversations between people and their friends on Facebook. Zamir Dahbash is a coowner of the Shalom Tel Aviv public relations and resource management firm. Shiri Perciger-Cohen is the firms head of digital PR.

ne of the main mistakes by Israels first government under David Ben-Gurion is that it did not separate the Jewish religion from the state. This shows that Ben-Gurion and his colleagues in Mapai (the forerunner of Labor) were not genuine socialists. Genuine socialists would have separated religion and state. The failure to do so did not stem from coalition considerations but from a problematic understanding of the essence of Judaism and the state. It is essential to understand that Judaism is not only a religion but a combination of ethnic, national and religious factors. The Jewish nation started out as ethnic tribes. Whether the Hebrew-Jewish entity began in Aram Naharaim (Mesopotamia) or in present-day Syria and Lebanon, there is clear evidence that these were ethnic groups that merged to create a single entity. And as in other ethnoreligious nations, this unification of the Hebrew tribes preceded the invention and adoption of the Jewish religion. For the thousands of years of the existence of Hebrewness or Judaism, ethnic factors have been of central importance to nationhood. The question Who is a Jew? is related not only to religious belief which is an outlook and a feeling adopted by individuals,

families and groups. It is also related to the ethnic-genetic origin of the Jews. The Jewish nation does not have a single religion; everyone knows that there are atheists, secular Jews, religious moderates and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews. They are united by their ethnic identity which, as noted, preceded the Jewish religion, even according to the Hebrew Bible. Religious people recognize this fact, even if they wont admit it. The best evidence that the religious community understands that ethnic affiliation is the essential basis of Judaism is found in rules determining Jewish identity. Two examples are the importance attributed to the Jewish identity of an infants parents and the demand to maintain distance from other ethnic groups. In the Diaspora, where there were no independent political Jewish entities, clerics assumed a central place in Jewish communities and decided that it was impossible to separate religion from the Jewish nation. For conceptual reasons, and considerations of self-interest, they also made sure to identify Judaism solely as a religion and with the State of Israel when it was established, thereby causing problems in all areas of Jewish life. Below are problems that have resulted from a failure to separate religion from state.

For years there has been a clear preference in Israel for Haredi and religious Jews and their interests over those of secular Jews, atheist Jews and non-Jews, who are the absolute majority in the country. This is reflected in the official and unofficial domination by religious and Haredi Jews of social and political systems in Israel and, to some degree, of economic systems as well. This domination has many consequences: Allocation of

Jewish, in Israel and abroad. This religious and Haredi domination of Israeli society and politics is of great significance in terms of the attitude toward the Palestinians and the possibility of achieving peace with them, as well as in terms of Israels status in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Most of the Haredim and the religious community are opposed to peace with the Palestinians, which will probably involve Israeli withdrawal from

The only way to escape an intolerable situation is by separating religion and state, as is the case in many countries around the world. This will happen only when political parties and private citizens demand it.
too many resources to the religious and Haredi communities, including to their yeshivas, education systems, synagogues and religious communities; control over compulsory education in a manner that prevents graduates of the Haredi school system from joining the job market; the mass exemption of all Haredim from military service; a demeaning attitude toward religious and Haredi women and women in general; a demeaning attitude toward gays and lesbians; and an almost racist exclusion of anyone who is not the West Bank, due to their religious and messianic claims of Jewish ownership of the land. For that reason they are also opposed to freezing construction in the settlements. As we know, a significant percentage of settlers in the settlement blocs and especially in the outposts are religious people and Haredim; it will be impossible to evacuate them because of their religious beliefs. The Israeli cultural and educational systems are also controlled by the religious community. This is reflected in their penetrating criticism

of textbooks, research studies, books and poems that take a secular and nationalist stance and are opposed to religious domination. Also, they exert control over several universities and colleges in Israel and in the West Bank, forcing religious observance on the students. All this is evidence of the unquestioned status of the religious and Haredi communities in Israel. It should be noted that the idea of the inseparable connection between religion and state is characteristic not only of the religious parties but of several right-wing and centrist parties as well. That is why even in the next government we should not expect significant changes in this area. Such changes would affect the economic, social and political situation in Israel, as well as its relations with the world. The only way to escape this intolerable situation is by separating religion and state, as is the case in many countries around the world. This will happen only when political parties and private citizens begin to demand it. The sooner the process begins the better it will be for Israel and for many Israelis even those who are unaware of this issues profound significance. The writer is a professor emeritus in the political science department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.