Emanuel Shahaf

Operation Pillar of Truth

Now that we are contemplating how to go from here, how to find a way out of this awful situation into which we have worked ourselves through years and years of very poor statesmanship, I would like to point out one of the greatest fallacies of our leaders the political system surrounding them and the frequently complicit media: Regarding the central themes of our political reality, they almost never tell the truth and if they tell the truth, they only tell some of the truth. This is the reason why the Israeli public is disappointed that we didn’t go into Gaza. This is why the Israeli public thinks there is no partner to a dialogue. This is why the public is certain that if we would use force, we would finally, once and for all, beat Hamas or Hizbollah or whoever. This is why the public thinks we have international support for what we do or that it isn’t important what other countries think about us. This is why the public isn’t too worried about the lousy relationship between Netanyahu and Obama.

Our public is systematically being lied to and is, apparently quite at ease about it. First of all there is at least some implicit trust in the leaders the public itself elected. I mean these are relatively honorable people so how bad can their lies be ? Another reason the lies are acceptable is because taking them at face value makes life a lot easier. We have been raised on them, educated on them and they have been spoonfed to us for years. If they were exposed and related to as lies, it would come as an unpleasant shock, the public would actually have to change either its position or worse, may even have to act upon a newly pereceived reality. The public however is quite comfortable with the way things are, it really doesn’t want to know too many details that could be worrisome, it would like everything to stay the same.

Unfortunately,  every once in a while, the public gets pushed out of its comfort zone, gets an indication that it is being lied to. There is a short scramble to reposition and find new comfort in another lie and everything continues smoothly until the next hitch. And thus we go, from lie to lie, from small crisis to bigger crisis until it will all come down to one big catharsis, sooner or later. Like it did in 1973 with the Yom Kippur war. Like it did in 1988 with the first intifada, like it did in 2000 with the second intifada and as it will surely come any day now, with either another intifada, or another flare-up in the North or in the South or else, vis-a-vis Iran. There were also some pleasant wake-up calls, like Sadat’s visit to Israel in 1977 and like the much maligned Oslo agreement in 1993 and the peace with Jordan in 1994 but we worked hard to achieve these agreements which are of course proof that there is another reality. But we have stopped looking. We are content with the way things are.

Our politicians have woven a cocoon of lies around the people of Israel, a cocoon that constantly continues to be woven tighter by polticial and religious elements, mostly on the right of the polticial spectrum. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the movie “The Truman Show” where the main character lives in a make-believe world. Like in the show, the character has the best of times until something doesn’t quite work the way it should and he discovers that he is being used.

The people of Israel live a life of make believe. It can’t go on like this and we get hints and frequently even clear warnings from out friends abroad and also some Israelis that we are heading for a crash, but we are busy defending our own little universe, our own reality which diverges more and more from the real universe out there. But unlike the character in the Truman show who looks for and eventually finds the exit door, we aren’t even looking, we don’t want to leave.

Undeniably, reality has a way of crashing in on us. It surely will again. Unless we embark on an operation “Pillar of Truth” and speak openly about the real problems Israel has to deal with now, we will be, once again, most unpleasantly surprised.

About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".