Shraga Elam on the Winograd report 02.02.2008



It is amazing how some people can read 617 pages in two or three hours and in this time also write a commentary.


Many Israeli pundits decided prematurely that the Winograd report was positive for PM Ehud Olmert or at least not very negative and that he is saved.


But the party is not yet over. Even at the press conference the committee expressed strong critique against the political echelon and though the report did not criticize the decision to launch the war and the decision to start with the land operation as such, these omissions stand in sharp contradictions to the facts the committee had gathered and published. These contradictions are so obvious that they must be intended.


The Winograd committee was nominated by Olemrt and the members were not allowed to be in their final report as harsh with their critique as they had been in the interim report. But still the massive critique can be read without any necessity of complicate interpretation and intellectual gymnastic. It is not surprising that one of the members, who is not named, protested against the interpretation of the report as an acquittal for Olmert.


Ha’aretz leading journalist Ari Shavit sees in the report even a requiem for the state and he describes part of the failures mentioned in it:

And here, on page 543, it says that the failure to choose between two plausible models for Israeli action constituted a grave failing. And on page 545 it says that the prolonged dithering without any clear decision reflected a fundamental and serious failing. And on page 546 it says that the avoidance of preparation for a broad ground operation reflected a total lack of decision-making. And on page 547 it says that the absence of orderly discussion about certain developments was a blatant failing. And on page 548 it says that the actions and failures of the political echelon and military echelon created a double failure - for which supreme responsibility lies with the political echelon. And on page 549 it says that in the interface between the Israel Defense Forces top brass and the senior political echelon there was a systematic failure. And on page 558 it says that Israel had no comprehensive strategic political-security vision, and that this was also a failing. And on page 571 it says that the failures described in the interim report continued throughout the war. And on page 574 it says that Israel went to war of its own initiative without due consideration and without being prepared for it, and that a number of disturbing truths about shortcomings and debacles were consequently exposed. And on page 575 it says that the failures and faults were critical and that they were systemic, grave and have major significance for the future.“ Haaretz, 01/02/2008 (

It is obvious that nobody and for sure not a committee nominated by Olmert can give a final and conclusive analysis of the Lebanon war of 2006. As well the results and the impact of the report cannot be assessed accurately. It is still too early to know what will be the character of the popular protest as there are other possibilities beside ineffective mass demonstrations. It is sure the distrust towards the government and the military leadership together with the frustration is growing.


One thing on the very short run is for sure. The Israeli war minister Ehud Barak is now in a very awkward situation. On the one side he promised several months ago that he will resign from the government after the publishing of the final report and therefore he was elected to head the „Labor“ party. On the other hand if he will resign it is not sure that he will be again in the government as Benyamin Nethanyahu leads in the polls. But what will happen if Nethanyahu will promise him the war ministry one way or another?


There is a „solution“ for Barak and also for Olmert to come out of the mess and that is to launch a bigger mess in the form of a big operation in Gaza strip. For this distraction maneuver they will get for sure the support of the military high command whose wet dream is to reoccupy Gaza strip and expel its inhabitants. The High Command can try to rehabilitate itself. The implementation of the same strategy applied in Lebanon, namely massive bombardment from the air, sea and land will have more disastrous effects in Gaza than they had in Lebanon.


Barak is expected to make his decision known on Sunday, will there be a pretext for the Gaya attack in due time? Or is a pretext needed?

Shraga Elam