In the mid 90s, when Yitzhak Rabin was Prime Minister, MK Binyamin Netanyahu exposed in the Knesset a top-secret IDF document – the “Shtauber Document”, as it became known. The document detailed the army’s positions regarding issues that were being discussed in the peace talks between Israeli Chief of Staff, Lipkin-Shachak, and his Syrian counterpart. Netanyahu sought to thwart these talks so he exposed the document. In doing so, Netanyahu revealed state secrets to the enemy, Syria.
Fast forward to today. After the ridiculous gag order was lifted yesterday, the Israeli press finally reported on what has become known as the “Anat Kamm affair”. In short: Kamm is charged with copying hundreds of top-secret IDF documents when she was a soldier, and then giving them to an Haaretz reporter, Uri Blau. The documents served Blau to write an article in 2008 about the IDF methods of “targeted assassinations” of Palestinians, methods that allegedly defied the Supreme Court ruling against killing terrorists who could have been captured alive. The article was approved by the military censor.
Netanyahu was never charged with espionage for revealing the top-secret Shtauber document. The Attorney General and the Supreme Courts ruled that his immunity as MK holds because he was “provoked” into revealing the document by being heckled while giving his speech at the Knesset. This proves that he did not have pre-meditated intent to reveal top-secret information and has therefore not willfully hurt state security.
Kamm has been under house arrest since December 2009. She is charged with grave espionage, a crime carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Uri Blau is in London, not returning to Israel for fear of being arrested, after he apparently did not return all the documents in his possession. The head of the Israeli Internal Security Service (Shin Bet), Yuval Diskin, told the press yesterday that Kamm should be in jail, not under house arrest, and that his organisation was mistaken in “not taking the gloves off” sooner.
So what is the difference between Netanyahu and Kamm/Blau? Why was Bibi let off the hook so easily while Kamm is being portrayed as public enemy number one?
I think that the answer is that the IDF and the Shin Bet are going through all this hoopla to divert the attention from the real issue at hand. They don’t want the media and the public to deal with why they allegedly violated the law by ordering assassinations of terrorists that could have been apprehended alive. They wish to divert the focus to Kamm and away from Yair Naveh, then head of Central Command, who appears in those documents as approving the illegal assassinations. They don’t need the headache and the ramifications of an official inquiry so they are creating a smoke screen.
If the allegations are correct, then Anat Kamm willfully stole and passed on top-secret IDF documents, and for that she should be charged and punished. But that is very different from charges of “grave espionage” or revealing information to the enemy. After all, the Blau article was approved by the IDF. And as for the unsubstantiated claim that her actions risked the lives of Israeli soldiers, it is nothing but cheap demagoguery, or worse, blatant fear mongering.
Prof. Yishyahu Leibowitz warned, shortly after the 1967 war, that Israel would become a “Shin Bet state” if the occupation of Palestinians continues. The “Anat Kamm affair” is another proof he was right.