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Retiring IDF Chief of Staff Accused of Selling Advanced Military Technology for Personal Gain, Sabotaging Competitor for His Job

gaby ashkenazi

Outgoing chief of staff Ashkenazi: the hand that salutes also rakes in cash (UPI/Rita Castelnuovo)

I reported last week (and here) that the Israeli censor had prohibited the naming of the soon to be former (as of tomorrow) IDF chief of staff, Gaby Ashkenazi as the target of a criminal inquiry.  Yesterday, the Israeli media finally named Ashkenazi as the one under investigation.  According to this report, my sources were correct when they noted that he was under investigation for sleazy arms deals arranged while he was director general of the Defense Ministry during the Sharon government.  I also reported that Ashkenazi used his wife’s cell phone to text hundreds of messages to a co-conspirator in a campaign to undermine the candidacy of one of his IDF enemies to succeed him.

I reported earlier that Ehud Barak, the defense minister, is known to have an intense dislike for Ashkenazi.  It was Barak who noted that Ashkenazi was not worthy of having his term as chief of staff extended for “moral failings.”

Among those failings, according to an Israeli source with knowledge of this matter, was a major violation of protocol involving sales of advanced Israeli military technology abroad.  In order to protect it’s technological superiority, Israel always sells the previous generation of weaponry and not the most current and advanced.  Ashkenazi and Harpaz, who were deeply involved in Israeli military sales and purchases, sold some of Israel’s most advanced technology to foreign sources.  And they used military resources to advanced their own corrupt schemes.  Ashkenazi’s son was also involved in the shady stuff making it truly a family affair.

This Israeli report linked above, of course, makes no mention of the fact that Ashkenazi’s name has already been published here as subject of the inquiry.  At the rate my scoops make it into the Israeli media you’d think we were living in the age of the Pony Express instead of the digital age.  Of course, if I know these are things the reporters likely do as well.  They just find themselves unable to break the gag, until they do.  Who knows why (unless of course the gag has been lifted).

The article clarifies that the investigators wanted to wait until Ashkenazi officially stepped down from his position before naming him as a target.  They also wished to wait until he returned from a trip abroad for the same purpose.  This may explain why his name was placed under gag in the first place.  As in many such cases, the article makes no mention of the fact that there was a gag order.

What strikes me as damn stupid about Ashkenazi’s behavior is that he used his wife’s cell phone to conspire with Lt. Col. Harpaz in the creation of a hoax memo claiming that Yoav Galant was engaged in a media campaign to get the chief of staff job.  Why would you involve your wife in a criminal act in such a direct fashion?  When you’re putting yourself in jeopardy why would you do so to your wife as well?  When you remember that Ashkenazi involved his son in his corrupt acts I suppose it’s not hard to understand how he would see every member of his family as a party who could advance his agenda.

What kind of officer is this who would do such a thing not only to the army he’s supposed to lead, but to his own flesh and blood?  And what does it say about the judgement of Israel’s leaders that they would choose such a venal, conniving, self-centered individual to lead its troops into battle?

Yisrael HaYom, better known as Bibiton, reports that two of Israel’s best known journalists, Dan Margalit and Ronen Bergman today published a book, The Pit: the Dark Secrets Behind the Worst Leadership Crisis in IDF History, about Ashkenazi’s corrupt military career and the infighting, petty jealousies and generally dysfunctional nature of the IDF senior command.  If Bibiton is correct, the book may’ve motivated the entire investigation by the Israeli authorities.  Perhaps material they uncovered even initiated the investigation.  Naturally, the IDF itself fought vigorously against publication.

From reading this summary of the book, it dovetails neatly with much of the coverage and substance of what I’ve been writing about the IDF over the past few years.  How can an army led by corrupt, bickering selfish men do anything other than commit atrocities in Lebanon, Gaza and on the Mavi Marmara?  Are we surprised at such military failures when the men leading the forces are failing in the most fundamental way possible to discharge their own duties honestly and competently?  Can we be shocked at the unadulterated lies spouted by the military spokespersons defending IDF conduct when the highest officer echelon too lies with impunity to cover its own ass?

There’s a saying that a country gets the leaders it deserves.  But it gets an officer corps it deserves as well.  This is a nation steeped in the oppression and corruption of Occupation.  How can its army and senior command not reflect the same sort of self-centered venality?

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • IlanP February 13, 2011, 12:51 AM

    1. Ashkenazi is not former yet. he will be replaced tomorrow.
    2. The government should vote today on nominating Beni Gantz for the Job.

    • Richard Silverstein February 13, 2011, 2:07 AM

      Thanks, I’ve corrected that.

  • Rafi February 13, 2011, 10:21 AM

    “while he was director general of the Defense Ministry during the Sharon government”

    He was the director in 2006, in Olmert’s government.

  • Anyn. February 13, 2011, 12:39 PM

    And these people say Anat Kamm is a traitor !

    • Richard Silverstein February 13, 2011, 8:47 PM

      Yeah, wait till you see what I’m gonna publish tonight about Gaby & Harpy.

  • dickerson3870 February 13, 2011, 9:49 PM

    RE: “What strikes me as damn stupid about Ashkenazi’s behavior is that he used his wife’s cell phone to conspire with Lt. Col. Harpaz”

    POSSIBLY GERMANE: ‘Secret clause lets Shin Bet get data from cell phone firms’, By Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz, 09/24/2007

    (excerpt) The licenses that Israel gives to cell phone companies contain a secret codicil requiring them to give the Shin Bet security service information about conversati­ons and messages that its customers transmit on their cell phones, according to the Movement for Freedom of Informatio­n in Israel (FOIM).
    However, the cellular companies – Pelephone, Cellcom, Partner and Mirs – as well as the Communicat­ions Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office, which oversees the Shin Bet, all declined to confirm the existence of such a directive. If this addendum does exist, it would potentiall­y impair the privacy rights of millions of cell phone customers in Israel without their knowledge.
    FOIM says that the security appendix “permits the security services to access citizens’ communicat­ions data, including in real time, without judicial oversight or other supervisio­n and without the citizens’ knowledge.­”…

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to haaretz.com

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