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How did we get so dumb?
By Sima Kadmon
Ynet / Israel Opinion
2 June 2010,7340,L-3897284,00.html

When was it that we were just a little less right and a little smarter instead? Almost everything we do in recent years suffers from lack of sophistication, insufficient consideration, and negligence. It appears that the dictum ďdonít be right, be smartĒ grows more meaningful around here from one incident to the next, from one operation to the next, and from one war to the next.

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What does it mean to be smart? For example, sending Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to brief the foreign press in an incident where we killed Turkish nationals is not smart; the same Ayalon who reprimanded the Turkish envoy months ago as he sat in a low chair. Itís just like throwing a red rag into an arena of hungry bulls. Whereís the tact? Whereís our common sense?

Itís not as though the alternative, sending Foreign Minister Lieberman, was much better. Yet someone needs to think ahead, see the overall picture, understand the implications, and predict the reactions.

Yet we donít need to go that far: As to the trap awaiting our troops at sea Monday, we can say that the writing was all over the water. For weeks theyíve been talking about the sail around here and what needs to be done about it. Yet they didnít do one simple thing: A thorough intelligence check of the people who are on board these ships.

So is it any wonder that the incident on board the Marmara caused such shock to the Israeli public? Nobody prepared us for this. Nobody told us there would be such bloodshed and that we may find ourselves facing an international entanglement. And why should they prepare us? Our leadership itself didnít know this.

When the defense minister spoke Monday about a radical Turkish group it was all very nice, but why did he have to do it after the fact? If you knew, Mr. Minister, that members of this organization were on board the vessel, why didnít you prepare accordingly? And if you didnít know Ė why didnít you know?

Humiliating our troops
Thereís not much to say about it: There wasnít much brainpower at work here. And itís not as though we needed a spark of genius. Common sense would be enough in order to understand that this is precisely what these protestors were seeking: a violent clash before the cameras.

We can say with certainty that Hamas leaders were not overwhelmed by tears when they heard about the fatalities. They could not dream of better results: IDF fighters shooting ďpeace lovers.Ē We can say that Israel played into Hamasí hands in an amateurish, pathetic way. So great, weíre right. But why the hell did we stop being smart?

One thing should be clear: There is not even one word of criticism here in respect to Flotilla 13 fighters. They apparently did precisely what they had to do. The question is why they even had to be there to begin with. Didnít all our wonderful minds, starting with the prime minister, have any better ideas than deploying soldiers on a deck where 600 unknown individuals are waiting for them? Is this the only way to stop ships?

What about causing some kind of mechanical mishap? Throwing a bolt into the engine? And if weíre already at it, why did we even need to stop them? Yesterday officials spoke of the need to maintain the blockade as if Gaza is hermetically sealed; as if these ships, which transported wheelchairs and milk, were the dangers posed by the besieged Gaza, rather than the endless weapon smuggling operations.

The repeated sights of soldiers being beat up with bats were like a blow to the stomach. It was sad to see our political and security establishment exposing them to this humiliation because of thoughtlessness.

In a normal country, we would have urged someone to resign. Sorry, what I meant to say is that in a normal country someone would have already resigned by now. Yet around here, the prime minister decides to return home from North America after long hours of deliberations. And this is supposed to reassure us.

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