The citizens: still shocked by Oct 7 and coming to terms with how broken things are; the IDF: pressing forward in a massive assault on Hamas
But Major General Yitzchak Brik, who has been warning of military failure for some time, is suddenly getting his air time. We share part of an interview he gave months ago, long before this war.
One of our kids, who’s been called up since the night of October 7, got off for Shabbat. He, his wife and their kids stayed with us for the weekend. On Friday, when he’d finally taken a breath, gotten out of his uniform, stowed away his weapon and taken a shower, he came downstairs and began to leaf through the massive pile of Friday papers (equivalent to the Sunday papers in the US, with a gazillion sections, etc.).
“Wow,” he said. “You don’t really realize it until you read the papers. The country and the army are in totally different places. The country is still in shock and grief over the attack on October 7; the army’s all about moving on, fixing this, eradicating Hamas. And getting the hostages back.”
I can’t speak to what the army is or is not thinking about (though today we’re focusing on Major General (ret.) Yitzchak Brik, who has been warning for months that an attack like this was possible). But about our son’s claim about where the country is, there’s no question that he’s right. This is a country still very much grappling with grief over October 7, still coming to terms with how deeply almost everything in this country broke.
The Yediot Ahronot article below, entitled (in the black and blue) “How do we go on from here?” was accompanied by a drawing that said it all.
A closer look at the drawing without the text. The archaeological metaphor was apt. If this country is good at anything (and it’s still good at many things), taking ancient vessels and rebuilding them is among them. But, of course, when you look at those vessels in the museum, there are always a few pieces missing, and the seams are evident, impossible to ignore. The point was clear.
Israelis are facing an unfolding crisis, but also an important opportunity to rebuild. If you would like to share our conversation about what they are feeling and what is happening that the English press can’t cover, please subscribe today.
And as for who’s getting things done with so much broken, nothing much has changed in the public’s attitude in the past few days. This illustration, also from Yediot Ahronot, shows the emblem of the State of Israel with a yellow sticker that says, “Be right back.” As in, right.
And if there’s any other image that’s worth noting at present, it’s the collage of the 1400 faces of those butchered and murdered on October 7, now being widely shared on Israeli social media:
Or here’s a list of the children killed, and their ages. Also making its way around. (You can Zoom in to see some of the ages….)
THE BLAME GAME IS NO GAME
Politics cannot be kept at bay forever. And since this war is likely to be long (months? a year, as some are predicting?), there is going to be no way to keep politics out of the conversation forever. At the very top, everyone is trying to fix and to win, but they are also positioning themselves for the political earthquake bound to follow.
On Saturday night, Bibi Netanyahu, Yoav Gallant (Minister of Defense) and Benny Gantz (former IDF Chief of Staff, head of the opposition and now a member of the War Cabinet) addressed the nation together. There had been a huge backlash to Netanyahu’s previous press conference, in which he appeared alone (not wanting to share the stage with those with whom he is presumably trying to save this place) and refused to take questions.
So on Saturday evening, “The Three (ahem) Partners” all appeared together, all dressed in black, and all took questions. It wasn’t bad. Few people here believe a word Netanyahu says, but he put on a reasonable show of being part of a team.
But if we’d gone to sleep thinking that maybe, just maybe, we’d turned a corner and might have a political top that was finally up to the national task, Bibi took to X (formerly known as Twitter) late that very night to tweet the following:
The outcry was immediate and massive. How dare you?, people wanted to know. What is really wrong? Lapid lambasted him. Gantz said it was horrific. Some members of his own party were stunned. Soldiers in field uploaded videos saying, “We don’t have time for making videos, but seriously, we’re out on the front and you guys can’t even pretend to have it together?”
Netanyahu stood his ground very briefly, but then under pressure from virtually direction, he deleted the tweet and even apologized.
Whose idea was the ludicrous tweet? Some thought (as we’ll see tomorrow) that it must have been his son, Yair, widely perceived as entirely unglued and having far too much influence over his father. But, it turns out, it was the wife, not the son. As the following headline notes:
It was Sarah Netanyahu who pushed for sending the tweet in which the PM took on the heads of the Shin Bet and Military Intelligence.
Which brings us to the “blame game” front and center. As Bibi carefully calibrates what he will and will not say so as to best position himself for the political whirlwind that will follow (as we saw in the above tweet), there are generals are now saying saying that the army was warned time and again, that a disaster was looming, that the army has been eroded and corroded, that its corporate culture had become rotten to the core.
Among the most outspoken of those has been Major General (ret.) Yitzchak Brik, who gave a now much-watched interview during the summer, after three soldiers were killed in an incident on the Egyptian border in early June. The interview is very long, more than an hour, but we’ve taken a portion and subtitled it for our paid subscribers, as thanks for their support of our work at Israel from the Inside. It appears a bit below.
The following clip is a brief excerpt of the excerpt, available for everyone. Remember, this interview was given in the early summer, long before this war started.