MK Shelly Yachimovich sent a warning to Rabbi Israel Meir Lau week, that could not be misunderstood. "In light of the circumstances of President Katsav's temporary suspension, I strongly recommend that Rabbi Lau forgo his candidacy. I have a certain basis to assume that if he runs a number of affairs from the past may resurface, including some that were not publicized," she wrote.
The way Yachimovich is trying to dissuade Lau from running for the post of president of Israel stinks of extortion. Never mind the threats: the really troubling aspect is that Yachimovitch has information on Lau and isn't publicizing it.
Her actions indicate that that the information is not serious enough to prevent Lau from remaining the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, or to host a daily Torah and conduct segment on Channel 1.
But if Lau insists on running for president, will she open up Pandora's box. She will publicly expose him and block him from the presidency, she says. That is a corrupt solution, first and foremost because the threat constitutes a sword hovering over his head that is designed to do no more than frustrate his ambitions. Secondly, Yachimovich is holding on to the information instead of exposing it. Lastly (and this may be the worst), there seems to be an unspoken agreement that some public posts allow a person to have dirty secrets.
If Rabbi Lau has skeletons in his closet bad enough to block him from being president, then he shouldn't be chief rabbi of Tel Aviv either.
Standards for public behavior and morals should apply to all public positions. We need to set a very high bar for honesty and ethics when first receiving a position of public trust. For every single job.
Yet we don't, which is one reason why so many in government find themselves at the wrong end of police investigations into alleged corruption for their actions in previous public roles.
We allow public servants to advance, even to the highest position in the country, only at which point do we start studying their pasts.
We are twofold losers. The corrupt official continues to work with his skeletons rocking in his closet. And once we've paved the road for his advance to the top - instead of letting him deal with matters of state, we keep him preoccupied with investigations and personal survival.
"The stories about Katsav have been around for years. Everyone knew," they say. If so, we are all hypocrites.
We are willing to accept a Transportation Minister or mayor who is a sexual deviant or rapist. We are not willing for our president to be a sex offender. This means that we are bothered more by the harm done to the institution of the presidency or prime ministry, than from the actual corruption or sex crimes of politicians.
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