In recent years the Israeli media have been in love with a government official by the name of Meir Dagan. Over and over, the press waxed emotional over the clandestine work of the head of the Mossad. Again and again it hinted, starry-eyed, at astounding feats carried out by Dagan's amazing boys (all attributed to foreign media reports, of course). Everything was cloaked in a glorious veil of secrecy. The rumormongers had it that since Dagan took over the espionage agency, it has gone back to being its true self. Now, they say, it is once again the Mossad that eliminates and assassinates, the Mossad that pursues and rescues, the Mossad that will redeem the State of Israel.
But after a single press conference in Dubai, that picture has been turned upside down. If Israel was behind the Dubai assassination of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, as is being claimed in the foreign media, then all of a sudden, Dagan is no longer the nameless hero, but the national blunderer; no longer the people's darling, but a disgrace to his country. Some people are even demanding to see his head roll. That is unfair. Getting things done entails making mistakes.