Victory in hand
It is true that since the last local elections we have mayors who don't whine all day, but work energetically. But the central component in the change is the Home Front Command's victory over Raanan Dinur, director general of the Prime Minister's Office.
It is not clear at all how the war in Gaza will end. International pressure on Israel to stop the bombing is increasing and Israel's status in the world is deteriorating. Will rocket fire from Gaza stop? Will arms smuggling from Egypt stop? Has Hamas "learned a lesson" or have the walls of hatred only grown higher with the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians?
But one victory is in the pocket: the victory of Home Front Command. If there is anyone who has performed commendably in the Gaza War, it is Home Front Command. The city and town governments have carried out their roles quickly and well, including rescue services, fire departments, ambulance services, property damage assessors and welfare organizations.
There is a simple reason for this: the neutralization of Raanan Dinur, director general of the Prime Minister's Office. The public may not be paying attention, but this time, in stark contrast to the Second Lebanon War, no one hears Dinur and and we don't hear every day about a new initiative by the PMO. The office is quiet, which allows the other agencies to do their jobs quietly and effectively, without disruption and hassle.
In the Second Lebanon War, things were entirely different. Dinur was at the height of his power. Just months before the war, Ehud Olmert served as both prime minister and finance minister and Dinur flourished. He saw himself as the treasury's uber-director and submitted grandiose plans to the cabinet every week. After the elections, Olmert appointed Abraham Hirchson to head the treasury, but Dinur continued to go wild with Olmert's blessing.
And then the Second Lebanon War broke out and Dinur decided to run the home front, too. He convened a meeting of representatives from all the agencies that handle the home front, while he himself headed dozens of committees that debated matters and authored "working papers" with conflicting recommendations.
Dinur established in his office the Center for National Management that was supposed to handle all civilian activities related to the war, but he created panic and terribly wasted management resources, time and money. The result was a power vacuum in the north, with dozens of charities trying to fill the void.
Dinur called himself the "National Integrator," the guy whose umbrella covers all the agencies. The bottom line was that he embroiled Olmert in the handling of matters that weren't even under his authority. Dinur's very appointment as director general of the PMO was a tremendous foul-up.
In July 2007, Roni Bar-On replaced Hirchson. He immediately understood that if he wanted to succeed in his position, he would have to neutralize Dinur. Dinur didn't buckle under easily. He continued to submit expensive weekly propositions to the cabinet that had no budgetary basis whatsoever, and Bar-On tried to intercept them.
When people who had received promises from Dinur approached the treasury, Bar-On told them "Let Dinur pay." After a few months everyone got the point that power was back in the finance minister's hands.
Can you imagine what would be happening now in the south if Dinur had succeeded in his plan to move the Home Front Command from the army to the police? This is the feeble organization that couldn't keep a serial rapist from escaping from the courthouse grounds or prevent the murders of civilians who happened to be in crime families' line of fire. The same police that couldn't stop daylight drug trade in Lod.
It is true that since the last local elections we have mayors who don't whine all day, but work energetically. But the central component in the change is the Home Front Command's victory over Raanan Dinur.