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In the heat of the recent protests and revolutions in the Arab world, one very important news item didn’t get the attention it deserved. On February 14, 2011, Binyamin "Benny" Gantz replaced Gabi Ashkenazi as the IDF Chief of General Staff. "Big deal, one criminal replaced another one" some readers may be thinking now. Yet, this choice symbolizes a cataclysm within the IDF and the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Ongoing Conflicts

Gabi Ashkenazi - the replaced commander – was already an unexpected choice. Gabi Ashkenazi became a Major General and left the army in 2005. As a Mizrahi he had no chance of becoming the army’s Lieutenant General and general commander. Then something happened. In 2006, Israel was utterly defeated in Lebanon.

The army commander back then was Dan Halutz, an air force officer. It is unusual for a “blue” (someone from the air force in Hebrew slang) to reach such a position. Halutz held back the “greens” (ground forces) during the operation because he didn’t trust them and sent the air force ahead. It was a disaster. The fact that in the morning of the attack he found time to contact his broker and sell his stock in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange didn’t help to his public image. He left humiliated.

It was time for a major change. Halutz – as his predecessors – was Ashkenazi. In 2007, Amir Peretz – then Minister of Defense – called Gabi Ashkenazi back to the army as general commander.

At the end of February 2008, Ashkenazi commanded Operation Hot Winter during which the IDF attacked Gaza. The fighting ended in an truce between Israel and Hamas. At the end of 2008 and in early 2009 Ashkenazi commanded Operation Cast Lead. The last was investigated by the UN and lead to the definition of Israel as a terrorist organization in article 1690 of the Goldstone Report, accepted by the UN Human Rights Commission on October 16, 2009. Askhenazi was tainted and he didn’t get the fifth year in the charge usually given to IDF commanders.

Gantz Gantz
Gantz Gantz

Rav Aluf Binyamin "Benny" Gantz | New IDF “Ramatkal” was de facto chosen by Justice Goldstone

Back to 2009

Justice Goldstone hit hard the IDF; in Justice from the Hip I made a summary and analysis of the report which defines Israel as a “terror inflicting” organization. Formally, Israel rejected the report. On the ground, it couldn’t ignore it. All the officers who commanded Operation Cast Lead could not advance to top positions.

The Israeli Administration understood what was said there. Several important columnists in the Hebrew media clearly stated that the Goldstone Report is here to stay. The Israeli Administration wouldn’t be able to claim it is anti-Semitic propaganda or to throw false mud on Justice Goldstone. The Israeli Administration was denied its two favorite Weapons of Person-Destruction. But, what can’t be done anymore on the international arena is still fair play within the Israeli media.

Technically, Israeli army officers are not supposed to express their political opinions in public. Yet, on January 31, 2010, Major General Benny Gantz - a former commander of Kingfisher - gave a highly controversial interview. It was clearly approved by the Israeli Administration, and probably requested by it. It is as if the last gave up, knowing there is nothing convincing it can say to fix the atrocities it committed in Gaza. Instead, it pulled a prestigious general – at least in the eyes of the Jewish Israeli public – in an attempt to at least stop the damage to its image in the eyes of the Israeli voters.

Major General Benny Gantz was the IDF military attaché in Washington, when days before the UN approved the Goldstone Report he was appointed the IDF Deputy Chief of Staff and his fate changed forever. Usually, getting the attaché position means getting an easy job before retiring from the IDF. Yet, because he was in Washington during the attack on Gaza, Gantz remained unstained by the shame of participating on such a brutal, savage event.

Ridiculously, in the abovementioned interview, he claimed the IDF acted in an ethical way in Gaza. Then he claimed, in a very clumsy attempt to justify the IDF crimes, that the same physicians that were in Gaza were later in Haiti as if that changed anything; this last statement clearly shows an inability to think logically or a Machiavellian attempt to confuse his listeners. Let me state that in other words: Major General Benny Gantz claims that firing white phosphorous artillery on a hospital is an ethic action. The list of Israeli crimes in Gaza is long. I could rephrase this in many different ways, each time mentioning a different Israeli atrocity. Major General Benny Gantz clearly cannot differentiate between good and evil.

If that wasn’t enough, he attacked Justice Goldstone on religious grounds. He said that since the judge is of Jewish background and is criticizing the State of Israel then he is a Trojan Horse taking advantage of his position in the international legal system.

Gantz Gantz

Rav Aluf Binyamin "Benny" Gantz | New IDF “Ramatkal” was de facto chosen by Justice Goldstone

Gantz Superstar

Untainted by Goldstone, but happy to throw mud on him, Gantz became a main candidate for being the IDF Chief of General Staff. Yet, Ehud Barak – Israel’s Minister of Defense – chose Yoav Galant to replace Ashkenazi in February 2011. Despite Barak’s weakness, on September 5, 2010, the Israeli government approved his nomination of Yoav Galant as the next Chief of Staff. This is a typical example of the “yes-and-no” doublethink, Newspeak, 1984-styled Israeli politics. Ashkenazi lost his world in Cast Lead, but Galant made his world there.

In the far past, Galant commanded the Shayetet 13, the naval commando unit that massacred Turkish civilians in the Gaza’s Freedom Flotilla event. In 2005, Galant was appointed as commander of the IDF Southern Command, which includes Gaza Strip. He commanded Operation Cast Lead and this role put him on the lead of the candidate’s list to be the next Chief of Staff. As a matter of fact, he is no less responsible than Ashkenazi on the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the IDF there, but in our strange world, Galant’s career was almost spared. A Galant Act of Terror passed almost unnoticed. Almost, for the Israeli government was quietly forced to change their choice. Shiny Gantz was chosen, a white-washed lamb capable to lead the IDF to its next massacres of innocent civilians.

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