Didi Remez
In May 2007, the current head of Israel’s internal security agency, the General Security Service (GSS aka Shabak and Shin Bet), Yuval Diskin, unilaterally revolutionized his agency’s mandate. Disken was responding to a request by Adalah to clarify the scope of the GSS’s authority to investigate Israeli citizens, Haaretz reported:
The Shin Bet security service believes it is within its charter to carry out surveillance operations, such as phone taps, on individuals deemed as “conducting subversive activity against the Jewish identity of the state,” even if their actions are not in violation of the law.
The announcement was made a month before the 40th anniversary of 1967 war, the moment when Israel became a border-less country embroiled in a never ending internal security war. Under these conditions, it may have been just a matter of time before unaccountable security services inserted themselves into the political sphere of a nation lacking a constitution and a bill of rights. Indeed, Diskin was probably only formally publicizing a long standing practice.
Still, the fact that this development barely registered in the Israeli public debate was remarkable. Part of the explanation for the silence is that those with the power to influence this debate — Jewish Israelis — did not feel threatened. The GSS was investigating the politics of Palestinian citizens. Jews were immune. No comparison and all that, but those who remained silent then are now learning that Martin Niemoller’s lesson, as expressed in “First they came,” is applicable anywhere a society allows the freedoms of minorities to be compromised.
Even when the GSS became a tool in the latest incarnation of the government-sponsored, NGO Monitor-led, campaign to suppress the Israeli human rights community — Im Tirzu’s assault on the NIF — the “mainstream” opposition was nowhere to be found. Nor was the silence broken yesterday (March 24 2010), when politicians called on the security agency to investigate Peace Now for treason, because of the suspicion that it had leaked the embarrassing story of new East Jerusalem construction just ahead of the Obama-Netanyahu summit.
Therefore, it is hard to resist a little Schadenfreude that a senior Kadima leader — Haim Ramon — is the latest victim of creeping fifth-columnization, now apparently a convenient weapon even in run-of-the-mill coalition-opposition fracas.
This morning’s media (March 25 2010) was a PR disaster for Netanyahu: Everywhere the Prime Minister’s trip to US was billed as a fiasco. Everywhere, that is, except Sheldon Adelson’s Israel Hayom, whose front-page provided a scapegoat (full translated text at bottom):
The senior officials say that according to information recently obtained by intelligence agencies that was placed on the desk of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak, Ramon is working with senior PA officials to prevent negotiations from being launched between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
According to this information, PA sources confirmed this. It was also said that other figures in Kadima might be partners Ramon’s activity. Political sources say that Ramon has been urging Palestinian and European figures to wait for Kadima to come to power, saying that this would make it possible to launch negotiations under better conditions for them.
In 2007, by the way, the government was lead by Kadima and Ramon was one of the most influential figures in the party.

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