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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Doing the right thing (for a change)

It was announced early this morning that PM Natenyahu has decided to cancel the appointment of General Gallant as the incoming IDF Chief of Staff because of recently discovered improprieties in Gallant's land dealings near his home.

While I'm sure General Gallant has had a stellar military career, I am pleased to see that for once, an Israeli Prime Minister has sent a clear message that in order to serve in a position of high leadership, an appointee must be beyond reproach, and have nothing in his/her background that might suggest that high ranking officials are above the law.

Without going into too much detail (since there is no lack of information available in the media), the Israeli attorney General had determined that General Gallant had not only taken possession of a significant amount of public land adjacent to his home (using it to create a prive access road for his exclusive use), but that when confronted about it, the General had taken several years to finally relinquish. Most seriously, Gallant had lied about what he had done while under oath during questioning.

The top officer in the IDF cannot reasonably demand absolute integrity from the officers and soldiers under his command unless his own conduct is beyond reproach. If there is even the impression of a dual standard, the message that is sent and received is that his failure was in being caught, not in having acted improperly in the first place.

By comparison when former Justice Minister Haim Ramon (of the Kadima party) had been accused, and ultimately convicted of Indecent Assault, he was immediately appointed by Prime Minister Olmert to an even more senior position than the one he had held when he committed the offense.

Ramon was initially investigated for 'Sexual Assault' in connection with having forcibly kissed a subordinate in his office. However, in a back room agreement the charge was reduced to 'Indecent Assault' without moral turpitude, ensuring that if/when convicted, he would not be barred from serving in the government.

Immediately after Ramon's conviction, then Prime Minister Olmert (also of Kadima) appointed him to be his Deputy Prime Minister. In my opinion, that sent a clear message to everyone that once you reached a certain level of power, you were above the law and immune from the consequences of your actions.

It should be noted that the current opposition leader, Tzippi Livni - also a Kadima member and, at the time, the most senior Woman in the Israeli government - remained absolutely silent about Ramon's appointment to Deputy Prime Minister. This sent an equally damaging message to women throughout the country that political considerations trump concerns specific to the vulnerability of women in a predominantly male environment (government).

I, for one, am pleased that PM Netanyahu (Likud) and his Defense Minister, Ehud Barak (formerly Labor party, now Independence party) were able to set aside politics and the 'that's how things have always been done' mentality, in order to send a clear message to the country that everyone is subject to the law, and nobody is above it.

Posted by David Bogner on February 2, 2011 | Permalink


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