They Caused the Labour Chaos

Newspaper: Jewish Herald
posted on:
16 In nov 1976
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Arabs of Israel. Government , Peace , Aliyah - Return to Zion, selective immigration. Individuals - Shimon Peres, Yitzchak Rabin. States - USA
Begin blames the current government for inflation and repeated labour conflicts. He accuses them of leaking secrets to the public and being unprofessional and using the Koenig memorandum to irritate the Arab citizens of Israel. He blames Rabin for making Israel look bad in the public eye to the rest of the world.
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"They Caused the Labour Chaos"

The Israel Government Is Not Functioning Properly.

Begin Confronts Rabin.

Can the present Government of Israel stem the galloping inflation embracing Israel? It is causing it. How can it overcome it? Does this Government have any influence whatsoever in trying to prevent repeated labour conflicts in the State's most essential services? It is causing it.

Massive finance was sunk in Ashdod Port. That port is almost totally paralysed. Once I heard a grim joke about Haifa port being "outside Israel's sovereign control." It seems that Ashdod is too.

And what about the absorption of aliyah, which is foundering on bureaucratic difficulties? And what about the growing emigration from Israel – which jeopardises our very future?

There is not a single sphere of our national life in which it may be said that this Government is functioning correctly.

To prevent further decline which could jeopardise the future of our children, Israel must have a Government which will fulfil its duties with collective responsibility, truthfully, and with credibility.


However, Mr. Rabin has expressed the opinion that the Government he heads is functioning properly. Unfortunately, one must regretfully say that not for a long time has a description so far removed from reality been uttered. All one has to do is observe the Government's actions to see how it "functions" and how dearly the nation is paying for its folly.

One of the Basic Laws according to which the Government is obliged to operate affirms in Paragraph 28:

"The discussions and decisions of the Government and of Ministerial committees on the following matters are secret and their disclosure is forbidden:

"(1) The security of the State; (2) The State's foreign relations."

Yet, there is hardly a Cabinet session from which such matters are not leaked to the Press the very next morning or evening. The citizens of Israel are witness to that fact, for most of the matters whose publication is expressly forbidden fill the columns of the newspapers.

Who leaks these facts? Senior State officials have been investigated, or are still being investigated, in this connection. But I know from personal experience that these officials do not leak information unless they are instructed to do so, expressly or by innuendo, by the Ministers they serve. In fact, one such official has stated: "I was told to leak the matter, so I did so…"

Frequently, the original citizen is astounded at the stenographic detail of the discussions published – even to the extent of interjections and exchanges of words.


Why are these facts leaked? Well every Israeli knows that there is one group of Cabinet Ministers in permanent conflict with another – and for that reason neither pays any attention to supreme national interests.

The public become accustomed to this state of affairs – but consider its gravity for the national interests. Words which foreigners were never intended to hear, and should never hear, are copied out and transmitted as soon as possible to foreign ministries all over the world.

Attempts to blame the press for that are unjustified. If a minister passes on, directly or through an intermediary, a stenographic record "for publication," who is entitled to require a journalist not to publish it? The responsibility is that of those who made the "leak" to the press: the Cabinet Ministers themselves.

That is how this Government functions in matters most vital for Israel's safety.

The extent of the damage this can cause has been brought home to us in connection with the matter of the arms which President Ford decided, on the eve of the presidential elections, to supply to Israel "in the near future."

The fact that Israel will get those arms is a matter of importance to us all. But…it seems that Mr. Rabin was informed of the matter in a hasty cable from the Israel Embassy in Washington. So what did he do? He did not tell his Defence Minister about that cable – although that is Mr. Peres's sphere and he must have been the Minister who requested those arms from America in the first place.

Both Mr. Peres and Mr. Rabin continuously affirm that their relations are "correct". Surely it would have been "correct" to notify Mr. Peres of Mr. Ford's decision?

Mr. Peres learned of the American promise at a Cabinet meeting. Since, on the basis of past experience, it was to be expected that if the Cabinet had learned such a vital national secret during a Cabinet session, the public would soon know it, too, immediately after the session, or at the latest in the next morning's press, the Ministers present preferred an official announcement.

It was obvious that such an announcement could not but cause serious harm. Red lights appeared immediately in Arab capitals. Those which are still linked with Moscow will undoubtedly be compensated with sophisticated Russian weapons, and those which are wooing the West with their petrodollars will obviously seek appropriate "compensation" for the supply of such arms to Israel.

If anyone should claim that, in any case, an arms secret could never be kept for long, the only reply must be that a careful and responsible diplomatic approach and a fatalistic "in any case" attitude are at opposite poles.

What is a fact is that this time it was not Washington that issued the announcement for publication. The official announcement came from Jerusalem.

That is a supreme expression of irresponsible government.

The damage was political, too. In the United States, the joyous Israel   announcement was interpreted as intervention in the electioneering on the side of Mr. Ford. Because of the incorrect functioning of this split Israeli Cabinet, which is contaminated by this pursuit of personal press publicity, the State itself suffers.


A memorandum from the Government's Legal Adviser, which had been marked "Top Secret," was leaked in toto to the Press. Negotiations with Washington on the extraction of oil from part of the Gulf of Suez under the principles of the Arab boycott against Israel are revealed in detail.

The Prime Minister, who has serious differences of opinion with the Defence Minister on this matter, angrily demands a police investigation of all those who might have leaked the secret document. Top senior officials in three Ministries are investigated – even to the extent of having to submit to a lie machine!

In the Defence Ministry there was a slight revolt against the shameful inquiry. Let me name just two of the personalities who were required to submit to the lie machine: General Tal, a world expert on armour and an outstanding field commander, rising to the status of Deputy Chief of Staff; and Mr. Haim Yisraeli, head of the Defence Minister's department – a man I have learned to know well, a man who has served under five Defence Ministers and is without peer in dedication and energy.

Consider the masses of secrets that have safely passed through his hands. Yet he is asked to submit to a lie machine. Justifiably, he refused.

There is no way of knowing at this moment what the result of this shameful inquiry will be. But no other Government has previously stopped to such attention.


It should be recalled, though, that the lie machine is not applied in every case of leakages. Consider the case of the Koenig document on Arabs in the Galilee. Today it is clear that the leaking of that document from the Ministry of the Interior caused grave damage to internal and external relations.

The Prime Minister repeated at least a dozen times that the views of this or that official did not influence Government policy; but the use of this Koenig memorandum to agitate Israel's Arab citizens or to befoul Israel's name abroad has not ceased. Nevertheless, no one has been summoned to any inquiry to discover how these documents came to be handed over to unauthorised people for publication – even though they were also headed "Top Secret."

I am not suggesting that the two Mapam Cabinet Ministers should submit to the lie machine. But it is a fact that we have heard not a word of demand for any such inquiry in regard to this document, with the grievous results its publication has had.

How did it reach the editor of "Al Hamishmar" (the Mapam newspaper)? There is no answer. Nor is there any inquiry. And that newspaper still, from time to time, reflects proudly on its "achievement."

May we be saved from any more such achievements which have once again proved how inter-Ministerial jealousies have made this Cabinet a free-for-all.

One could list many other facts to show how this non-Government functions: Ambassadors are changed amid diplomatic insult and scandal; appointments to State posts requiring special knowledge and ability are made on the basis of party loyalty. Over everything there is the spirit of the hypocrisy of creeping "socialism."

(Translated from the Hebrew by Joe Kuttner)