The Green Beast Kicks Back

About a week ago a smiling young girl knocked on my door. She wore a very unique shirt, showing the logos of the Katz courier company and of the Home Front Command. She wanted the gas mask, God only knows where it is. It turns out that the Home Front Command wants it back, and threatens not to issue me a replacement in case of emergency, unless I provide it with the old mask. To perform the operation, just as it privatized the sirens, it also privatized the collection of the masks. The question begs to be asked: why not privatize all the handling of the masks? In fact, why not privatize the entire Home Front Command?

There are senior officers, there are honest officers, and there are very few who are both. As if we needed proof of that, the last report of the state comptroller shows that the head of the Home Front Command, Yitzhak “Jerry” Gershon, is not merely dishonest, but an outright criminal.

All through the war in Lebanon, Gershon was vigorously occupied by the IDF maneuver known as covering its ass. He evaded any responsibility, avoided any action he was not directly ordered to take, and in general – just like the prime minister – conducted himself as if he was preparing for an inquiry committee. He apparently knew why.

The gravest incident was an act of direct insubordination by Gershon. In the first volume of the report, pages 59 to 62, the comptroller records how the Minister of Defence, Amir Peretz, directed Gershon to call reserve soldiers into active duty and station them at the bombarded northern cities, to assist the civilian population. Gershon didn’t call the soldiers. He spoke with the IDF Chief of Staff, understood from him that he doesn’t have to call up the soldiers, and didn’t bother updating the Minister of Defense. Quite the opposite: he reported several times that he was carrying out the order. When he was dragged in front of the comptroller he made up something about “a soldier in uniform takes orders only from the Chief of Staff”, and that the instructions of the Minister of Defense are not, as far as he is concerned, binding orders.

Gershon’s lawyer’s statements in this case are stupefying: “The army is a hierarchal system, the army conducts itself according to orders… the minister did what he had to by promising assistance, the minister doesn’t understand, the minister is new, the minister yells home front, home front, home front…”. The minister yells, the minister is new, the minister doesn’t understand.

The comptroller, very cautiously, too cautiously, called upon the current Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff, “to explain to the head of Home Front Command the significance of his actions, and to clarify the matter with him beyond a shadow of a doubt”. In a normal army, the brave soldier Jerry would have been hauled to a short and formal court martial for insubordination in action, and then to face a firing squad. There would have certainly been no shortage of volunteers. And in the IDF? In the IDF Gabi Ashkenazi has already informed, a rare statement by him, that he fully supports his pathetic major general. Not only hasn’t Gershon been prosecuted, he wasn’t even reprimanded. Now this blunderer considers suing the comptroller for slander.

If you want to uncover the essence of this voluntary military putsch we underwent, note that except a couple of editorials, this event – emblematic of the entire war – vanished without a trace. The army is negligent, stupid and treacherous – and we prefer to look the other way.

The least any citizen can do is spit at Jerry if they come across him in the street. For the time being we can still express our contempt at the ruling junta. We can, and we should.

(Orignally posted to Friends of George by Yossi Gurvitz. Translated by Yair Mahalalel on July 31st, 2007)

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