The former police commissioner, Shlomo Aharonishki, had two bitter surprises last week, one personal and one general. Aharonishki was invited to testify before the Zeiler Commission and believed his services were being sought as an expert witness, but he received a letter of caution from the commission. While digesting that, he heard Public Security Minister Avi Dichter talking about "the police force's Bus 300 affair." Aharonishki was furious: In classifying the crime families, he had relegated the Parinyan brothers to the bottom of the district league chart. "Don't place the hunchback of the Shin Bet security services on the police," he told Dichter over the phone. "It wasn't us who committed murder on Bus 300, and it wasn't our negligence that caused the assassination of Rabin." (The 1984 Bus 300 Affair involved a cover-up by the Shin Bet after two Palestinian bus hijackers were murdered by Shin Bet agents after their capture.)
A week after the Zeiler letters of caution were sent, Dichter seems to have lost the first round of the battle against Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi. It's only a holding action, which is not decisive, but Karadi's immediate goal to prevent dismissals was achieved.
In his haste to focus the battle against the police, Dichter drew fire to himself and let it be forgotten that the State Prosecutor's Office and the Justice Ministry's Police Investigation Unit had been cautioned as well. Karadi was crucified as the person responsible for a problematic appointment, that of commander Yoram Levy. Aharonishki was the police commissioner at the time. Therefore, Eran Shendar, who was director of Mahash, the Police Investigation Unit, at the time, and those who recommended to the government to appoint him state prosecutor - a committee headed by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and whose members included Vardi Zeiler - should be held equally responsible.
By helping the politicians and Mazuz sweep aside dedicated and honest policemen, Karadi has acquired ambassadors of bad will. Someone who does not have sensitivity for his colleagues will also end up complaining about the attitude of the ungrateful "system," as though he himself were not the system.
When he decided to appoint a new commander for the National Fraud Investigation Unit, Karadi did not bother to inform the incumbent head, Brigadier General Miri Golan. She was embarrassed to hear the news from one of her subordinates, who received a phone message from a friendly informer in the middle of a discussion she was leading. The Hebrew acronym for the Community and Civil Guard Department (aleph-kaf-mem), formerly the Civil Guard - has been interpreted as standing for the "Community of the Ousted Department," since Major General Moshe Mizrahi and Brigadier General Yehuda Salomon have been exiled to it.
Prior to the establishment of the Zeiler Commission, Karadi was asked to recommend former police majo r generals as candidates to serve on it. Now he regrets having recommended Uzi Berger, who never worked in the field and in the district, and therefore, did not inform Zeiler of the difference in power and responsibility between investigating officers and detectives from the main units. Berger, a desk man in the Shin Bet and then in the police, was the head of the investigations division for a short time, and saw from up close - with reservations, but not belligerently - how suspect Aryeh Deri tried to get former police minister Moshe Shahal to act against the investigating team and then-police commissioner Yaakov Turner.
Once every 13 years, the police commissioner is ousted by the minister. None of the police officers resigned in 1993 to protest Shahal's ousting of Turner, nor in 1980 following Yosef Burg's ousting of Herzl Shafir. Zero - that will also be the number of policemen and officers who will resign in 2006 - if Dichter ousts Karadi.
The energy and police ministers arranged a job in the Israel Electric Corporation for Rafi Peled, the commissioner who was forced to resign against Shahal's will. If Karadi is suspended from the police force, it is important that his reputation be rehabilitated, and that he receive the full number of points toward his pension, which he will reach only in about three years.
To date, the commissioner has never beaten the minister in the final battle. Therefore, Karadi will try to hold on should a government shake-up lead to the promotion of Dichter to another portfolio (defense?) And if the state comptroller delivers the Ehud Olmert file to the police, Karadi still will be able to reinvent himself as a fighter against political intervention in the investigation.
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