(October 4, 2018 / JNS)
“Brik is a disaster” from the army’s perspective, it was said on Army Radio a week ago. Then, almost one week ago, former IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. (res.) Avi Benayahu published a post on Facebook in which he included a photo of outgoing IDF Ombudsman Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Brik and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak hugging one another.
Based on the post and Benayahu’s op-ed in the Maariv daily newspaper, he is working again as Israel Defense Forces spokesperson in some shadow headquarters surrounding Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot. There’s a sense that shades of the Ashkenazi-Harpaz affair are reappearing, and that Brik is under personal attack.
“I wouldn’t rush to conclude that Brik is the one speaking and that Barak’s hands aren’t pulling the strings, but I’m certainly allowed to suspect such a thing. … It pains me to say, but IDF Ombudsman Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Brik … has been waging a personal, public campaign recently … against Chief of Staff Eizenkot and the IDF. And now there are even those who reject the inquiry committee appointed by the chief of staff … and I’m left to wonder, who exactly is behind this campaign,” wrote Benayahu.
Here, Benayahu reiterates the tired mantra that usually emanates from sources in Eizenkot’s circle, whereby Brik “was silent for 10 years and only now is waking up.” Benayahu goes on to argue that veterans of the army’s elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit are working “against us as well at this time.”
It’s unbelievable. Benayahu, to put it mildly, has not been silent for the past 10 years, even though nearly three years ago (on Jan. 20, 2016) Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein wrote in his summary of the Ashkenazi-Harpaz affair that the police found a recording device with sensitive—beyond top secret—materials in Benayahu’s home, and that Weinstein considered charging then-chief of staff Ashkenazi with espionage. Such a charge could have also included Benayahu, and the materials discovered on the recording device were indeed grave and jaw-dropping.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman doesn’t believe there’s a connection between Brik’s report and the appointment process for the next chief of staff. What’s certain is that the three realistic candidates to replace Eizenkot don’t have their own mechanisms to scheme and plot, the likes of which led former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to describe the Ashkenazi-Harpaz affair as a stinking corpse in IDF headquarters that needs to be removed.
It’s enough to witness the scheming against Brik to understand that something is wrong in the IDF. When a story suddenly appeared in the press about a possible fifth year for Eizenkot, government sources said: “He won’t get even a minute more.”
In the meantime, the shadow system is capable of jamming a spoke in the wheel, and the next chief of staff’s appointment will be postponed and extend Eizenkot’s tenure, instead of deciding on his replacement as early as this week already.
Amnon Lord, is an Israeli journalist with the daily newspaper Makor Rishon. His articles and essays about media, film and politics have been published in The Jerusalem Post, Mida, Azure, Nativ and Achshav.