Controversial Choice for IDF Spokesman Withdraws

Danny Naveh, a young Likud activist just nominated to succeed Israel Defense Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Nachman Shai, voluntarily withdrew his name from consideration Tuesday night after a public outcry over his lack of experience and the alleged politicization of the post.

The retreat by Naveh, personal spokesman for Defense Minister Moshe Arens and a past spokesman for Likud, was the first setback for Chief of Staff Ehud Barak, whose efforts to reorganize and streamline the IDF have forged ahead despite grumbling from the officers corps.

Barak, who took office last month, selected the 31-year-old law school graduate to replace Shai, the IDF spokesman whose soothing voice and avuncular image made him a television personality during the Persian Gulf War.

Barak’s surprise appointment of Naveh, a former member of the Likud central committee, had aroused the ire of senior officers, who said they should have been consulted.

The media and politicians also complained. They said it was “highly unwise” to name someone with such strong political ties to be the voice of the IDF.

Critics also noted that Naveh had neither media training nor extensive field experience with the army.

Announcing his withdrawal Tuesday night, Naveh said he saw “nothing wrong with a person with any particular political past serving as army spokesman.”

He said he withdrew in order to spare the chief of staff and the IDF further embarrassment.

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