Today brings the astonishing news that Likud MK Danny Danon as been appointed deputy defense minister. This is something akin to appointing Sarah Palin assistant secretary of defense. Not only do neither have any military experience (except for Danon’s IDF service), the only thing they bring to the job and only reason for their promotion is ideological fervor. The only example I can think of that was equally disastrous was appointing Amir Peretz as defense minister in the Olmert government. Peretz rose to his level of incompetence as will Danon.
Among his other claims to fame/notoriety, are the attempt to criminalize miscegenation between Jews and Arabs and a demand that any citizen seeking any form of government assistance offer a loyalty oath. Even liberal Zionists have labeled him M-KKK.
The defense minister will be the settler-darling Bogie Yaalon, a mutinous former IDF chief of staff, who will dutifully ignore just about everything Danon tells him related to Israeli military matters. That will make Danon little more than a figurehead.
An even more critical appointment that is also a figurehead is Yair Lapid as finance minister, the position responsible for controlling Israel’s economy. Lapid has admitted publicly he has no background in finance or anything that would render him capable of performing this job. He’s admitted that Bibi may’ve offered him the portfolio knowing he would fail.
That’s certainly possible. But it’s more likely that Lapid will play a similar role to the previous finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, who himself had no economics background. This is Bibi’s forte as a devout Friedmanist. Bibi will make all the major decisions around the economy. Lapid is there as a figurehead. If the economy goes south, then Lapid will be a convenient whipping boy.
The new deputy foreign minister (replacing Danny Ayalon from the previous government) will be settler Zeev Elkin. When Avigdor Lieberman is given a clean bill of health from the Israeli justice system and purified of the charges of corruption with which he is currently saddled, he will be return as foreign minister. That will mean two extremist settlers will be at the reins of Israel’s diplomatic apparatus, where they will be putting Israel’s best foot backwards.
Among those in the new security cabinet which will decide whether to attack Iran will be many ministers with little or no security experience including Bennet and Lapid. They will replace figures like Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Ehud Barak who, among themselves, had decades of military experience. Many of these figures put a break on Bibi’s adventurism regarding Iran. With a group of inexperienced military and intelligence figures helming Israel’s security agencies and less experienced political figures in the security cabinet, it may be much easier for Bibi to push for war.
That, I’m told by an Israeli source, is the major reason Obama is coming to Israel. He intends to wave the flag for his own policy that may involve negotiations over military assault.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.