For many years the head of secret services in Israel was a mysterious figure, never exposed in the media. This was until 10 years ago, when Jaccob Perry, head of the Shabak, Israeli internal secret service at the time, became, in a public relations strategic move, a celebrity. Charismatic, outspoken and, above all, pragmatic, Perry turned around the image of the entire organization. Today, the 65-year-old Perry, sitting in his home in the upper Galilee, only half a mile from the Lebanese border, laughs ironically: “It was a deliberate choice to buy this house; I can shout ‘good morning’ to Hezbollah from here.” After having held the position of CEO and chairman of Cellcom, one of Israel’s cellular communications providers, today he is a chairman of the board of several companies.
His green eyes tighten when I mention Gilad Shalit’s recent release from captivity by Hamas: “Well, it's great that a life was saved, but let's be honest here: Netanyahu did not do it for humanitarian reasons, but only to fuck Abu Mazen! He is so angry because of the UN bid for a Palestinian state that he decided to make a deal with Hamas. Netanyahu had another agenda, that didn’t include making peace with the Palestinians. Firstly, he wants to stay in office and secondly there is the Iranian atomic threat. With Abu Mazen’s move, he was forced to put the negotiations card back on the table. Hamas had to reciprocate by compromising on their original demand to allow Khaled Mashal to move to Egypt, where he could set a new base for Hamas leadership, in case the situation in Syria deteriorated.” He smiles: “Both sides can enjoy their newfound popularity for the next 3 weeks, but the bottom line is that with the UN recognizing the Palestinians as a state observer will face another Arab Palestinian Spring as well as an Israel Spring with millions of protesters here in Israel asking for social justice and Palestinians demanding their own country!” Perry’s wife, Osnat, joins us with tea and refreshments Perry smiles warmly at her and adds: “She is an Iraqi Jew” Onsnat responds: “I’m Israeli.” Perry stirs some sugar in my tea without asking and stands up looking seriously at the surrounding hills. He turns his back and continues: “We Israelis negotiate only when we are cornered, be it by a crisis or a state of war. It's sad, because all of us know what the solution is. Yes, it's painful, but there is no alternative. It breaks my heart to give back the Golan Heights to Syria, or give up East Jerusalem, but if we want a future for our grandchildren, it’s a must.”
“Today we lack leadership: Netanyahu is a coward and a liar, he is out of touch with reality because he sees it from a helicopter. We are less secure today than we were before. Israel lost a most important regional ally, Turkey, a country that has held a strategic value for us, for its border with Iran and with Syria. We used to have great military cooperation. Yes, the Turks are bastards, but we were should have apologized for the loss of lives on the Marmara and paid the damages of the ship. The outcome of the revolts that are taking place in the surrounding Arab states is Islamists taking part of future governments. Having seen Tahrir Square with millions of people in it, I realized that the only way to handle national aspirations is by listening to them. And yet, despite all of these challenges, Netanyahu policy is shit. He has done nothing except the Shalit deal.”
Perry, smoking nervously, adds: “Well, Gilad was one deal with Hamas; you can negotiate other agreements with them; Abu Mazen is ready to sign a peace treaty, a tactical one. Hamas has pragmatic leadership in Gaza that we should talk to. Whatever peace deal we achieve, will not be translated the next day into eternal love. It will never be a perfect one; there will always be extremists on both sides who will try to blow it up once in a while. But that should not stop us. I believe in a brighter future, with different leaders, perhaps from the business sector. Leaders who are not hostages of the mentality of fear.”