Chief of Staff Dan Halutz didn't think the barrages of Katyusha rockets peppering northern Israel needed to be taken seriously. He forced his will on the government, suggested no alternatives, and silenced opponetns in army circles. Thus Channel 10 and the press, ahead of the release of the Winogran Inquiry's interim conclusions on the (mal)functioning of the political echelon during the Second Lebanon War.
The report from the external examiner appointed to investigate the flaws in how Bezeq approved executive pay, paints a picture of a domineering CEO (Jacob Gelbard) who treated the company like his own private kingdom, with nobody checking his moves, let alone saying anything. The examiner, Yoram Danziger, marked Gelbard as the power at the company and with that, basically ascribed the blame for the problems to him. Thus the press on Danziger's report.
Danziger published his findings at the end of last week. The report basically placed Gelbard's head on the guillotine, because of the grave flaws in the company's management under his domineering rule.
The Winograd commission publishes its interim report today, but its main points have already been leaked, at the end of last week, just as Danziger's report arrived.
Winograd saved its most biting criticism for the chief of staff, Halutz, who's actually already paid with his head.
Two reports. Two very different subjects. Published together. And lo! they reached much the same conclusion: enablers met rot at the top.
"According to reports, Halutz suffered from excess charisma, which stopped the government from getting alternatives from him," the Winograd report found.
"The directors' flaccidity, and bizarre lack of interest in doing their jobs properly, enabled Gelbard to act with almost no checks or balances, while the executives beneath him - out of respect, fear, laziness or stupidity - impaired the company conduct," according to press reports on Danziger's report.
"The draft report claied that Olmert's judgment was unwise and rash, and that he didn't manage, he followed the army's lead" (back to the press on Winograd). "Olmert did not ask the army for alternative plans to the ones they presented, and did not ask the right questions."
And at Bezeq: "The examiner found that even after the board learned of flaws in the approval of employment terms of executives, and that it had to approve the employment terms from scratch, it did not do so" - meaning, it did not restart the process and approve them again.
Danziger's conclusion was that the chief executive, Jacob Gelbard, bore the main responsibility for the flaws, and should quit. And what about the board of directors, which is supposed to ? What about the chairman, Dov Weisglass?
"Weisglass managed to convince the examiner at Bezeq that he shouldn't bear personal responsibility for the failures of the board of directors," the press wrote. "It is doubtful whether Weisglass will be going home, for a simple reason: touching him personally would expose the directors to lawsuits and criticism. Weisglass will serve as a wall protecting them from condemnation."
Danziger concluded in his report that it was doubtful whether any of the directors would pay a price for the faults, unless the Israel Securities Authority investigates.
Publicly traded companies are supervised by the Israel Securities Authority. The State of Israel has no watchdog to supervise its actions. The State of Israel doesn't even have a national inquiry that can recommend personal conclusions. All it has is an inquiry that settles for "arousing public debate". In Israel, the chief of staff may be required to go home, and justly so: but what about the body that supervises the chief of staff, namely - the government? What about the equivalent of the government's chairman, the one who designs its strategy, including whether or not to go to war, and how, namely - the prime minister?
"Olmert's motivation to survive is very high," said sources near the prime minister yesterday. "If the prime minister has to go, then everybody should go. The prime minister will claim that the ministers unanimously supported a strong military response and they bear the same responsibility that the does."
We are to understand that Olmert should not be held personally responsible for the failures of the Second Lebanon War, just as Weisglass should not be held personally responsible for the flaws in Bezeq's procedures.
The ministers are obviously not going to reach personal conclusions, and therefore their leader, the first among equals, doesn't mean to reach any either. You can trust Israel's Knesset not to force the prime minister or government to reach anything like a conclusion, because then it would itself have to pay the price: it would have to disband and face the electorate again.
Therefore, expect no conclusions whatsoever from one of the unhappiest military endeavors in Israeli history. The Knesset members, the ministers and the prime minister will continue to glue themselves to the horns of the altar and teach the People of Israel that accountability is a word for other places. However dreadful the management, the manager is here to stay. And as the report on Bezeq shows, Israeli society, the people, are faithfully following the example set by government. Business leaders are the first to follow the lead of the prime minister, how to shrug off responsibility and how not to pay the price of failure, and while about it, how to continue demanding stock options worth tens of millions of dollars. Great example. Great country.
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