Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Well I'll be 'Dan'ned

The aftermath of the Yom Kippur war (1973) forever changed Israel. Despite winning the war, the Israeli public had its self confidence severely shaken by an army that did not seem prepared for the war. With over 2000 dead and 4000 injured, there was major doubt cast upon the competence of the Labor elite, who had been ruling the country since 1948. Although the public was especially critical of defense minister Moshe Dayan, the Agranat Commission wrongly laid the blame on IDF Chief of Staff David 'Dado' Elazar's shoulders. This despite the fact that prime minister Golda Meir was warned by army intelligence of a potential strike, as well as also receiving a 'delivered in person' warning from King Hussein of Jordan days before the war. Golda Meir, who actually accepted full responsibility for the debacle (In her autobiography, Meir expresses extreme remorse for not authorizing a preemptive strike similar to that of 1967), would resign the next year and within a few years, Israel's political establishment would forever change with the Likud's Menachem Begin being elected as prime minister.

Fast forward to July/August 2006 and Israel is embroiled in a month long war with Hezbollah. Despite Ehud Olmert outlining the goals of the war as being the return of the kidnapped soldiers (2 from Lebanon and 1 from Gaza) and the ending of Quassam rockets from Gaza, neither target is achieved. The Israeli public again loses faith with its army and government. The government-appointed Winograd committee is set up to determine responsibility for the wartime debacle. And that brings us to today, where the headlines this morning finally read, 'IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz announces his resignation.' It's not that I'm happy, but I'm relieved that someone is finally accepting responsibility for the pathetic way our country was run during the war. This however, should only be the first stage of what needs to be a major shake up for this country.

Dan Halutz was the first pilot and non infantry soldier to be given the honor of being Chief of Staff. He was appointed by Ariel Sharon to replace Moshe 'Bugi' Yaalon, who was fired for rightly speaking out against the disengagement. It seemed to many that Sharon's reasoning for picking this decorated pilot were more due to political considerations than military ones. Halutz supported the disengagement and never spoke against it, despite the army's warnings of what would happen if we were to leave Gaza in the planned manner. In 2 years, he did little to improve the army and when confronted with the major challenge of war, it seems that he had no clear objective to help achieve the stated goals of the war. In his letter of resignation to Olmert, Halutz wrote:

"For me, the word responsibility has great meaning. My view of responsibility is what led me to remain in my post until this time and to place this letter on your desk today...Since the echoes of battle ceased, I decided to act responsibly according to the best traditions and values from home and from my service in the IDF. I feel proud that I completed what I set out to do. After these thorough processes, I am sure the IDF will be ready to meet the challenges ahead."

Exactly what he's proud of, I don't know. I just hope that a strong candidate replaces him who can reinvigorate our army, and prepare her for any potential future challenges that lie ahead of her. Halutz has made the right decision, and for the sake of the country, I hope Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz follow in his footsteps ...


Anonymous said...


only two critiques here:
1) He may have resigned but he did NOT take any responsibility for his actions - he did a lot to talk AROUND the isssues and not lay claim to them. I am not impressed.

2) Your snippet of "responsibility" - what particular responsibility was he talking about? Basically he was a great political tool that should have stayed in politics or under someone else in chain of command.

Just my uninformed opinion for your amusement, senor.


IsraLuv said...

you and i are now linked FOREVER