Last week, the only Israeli people who could read the Raviv Document were those who had access to the Internet. As MK Michael Eitan and members of the press struggled to have it published officially, the Attorney General and the State Prosecutor insisted that its (further) publication would cause irreparable harm to State security. Anyone with access to the Internet -- and that includes more or less anyone who was at all interested in seeing the document -- could, of course, see and decide for him or herself. But most of them could not discuss it in public or in print, since the document was still declared secret.
The paper in question was a report of a meeting that took place May 2, 1996, almost exactly six months after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin and about eight months after the phony televised swearing-in ceremony of a phony right wing extremist cult called Eyal that was staged by GSS agent Avishai Raviv with the collusion of the television reporter and camera crew. It had not been announced that the ceremony was phony, and the blood rituals it depicted certainly helped heat up the atmosphere at the time, and their nature was used by many to "prove" the violent tendencies of the right wing opposition to the peace process.
At the meeting were State Prosecutor Edna Arbel, Attorney General Ben Yair, several senior representatives of the GSS (General Security Services), and other senior members of the Israeli legal establishment. The notes summarize the discussion that took place about the televised phony ceremony of Eyal and how it should be dealt with.
Among the few who could discuss the document publicly last week were the judges of the High Court. And they were as mystified as the rest of the public about the ramifications of the document for state security. Unlike the rest of the public they could act on their assessment, and they ordered its publication.
It is hard -- very hard -- to see how the State has suffered from its release. Those present at the meeting, however, should not escape unscathed.
This was a meeting of the senior members of the executive legal establishment, and all they discussed were the relative merits of various alternative ways of closing the legal proceedings against Avishai Raviv for his phony ceremony that functioned as real incitement to murder. Is it better to say "Lack of Public Interest" in pursuing the case they wondered, or is it more defensible to close the case due to lack of proof? Just how much damage will it do to the GSS and is it possible to contain the damage?
Conspicuously lacking is any concern for the rule of law, which was very clearly at risk (and still is). While the GSS representatives should make the strongest case they can for their organization's interests, the legal authorities participating in the meeting should have voiced and pursued the interests of what they are supposed to protect, namely the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law.
All the legal authorities present at the meeting expressed their general desire to press charges, but they were quite easily persuaded that the damage to the GSS is so great as to override the necessity to prosecute Raviv. Attorney General Ben Yair is the most circumspect: he "only" agreed to look the other way when the case was passed to the State Prosecutor to close as she deemed most effective.
The struggle last week to prevent publication of the document seems only to be a continuation of the same approach. Contain the damage, protect those in power, and save the rule of law for bashing the chareidim.