The sorcerer's apprentice
The judgment behind the appointment of Yaakov Ganot is so flawed and the disregard of the public mood so flagrant, that one begins to have doubts about Avi Dichter's suitability for national leadership.
Yaakov Ganot is a valiant warrior. About 35 years ago he proved that he is not some bureaucrat who hides behind a paperwork wall of rules and regulations and command hierarchy. At the time he bore the rank of inspector in the Border Police and was working in the Sasa station, on the northern border, when the commander of the Egoz commando unit of Northern Command, Uri Simhoni, called him on the wireless from inside Lebanon. That evening a lieutenant in the unit, Drori Bergman, left from Biranit to collect a force that would reinforce that of Simhoni, across the border. Communication with Bergman was lost; sounds of explosions were heard. Simhoni asked Ganot to find out what happened to Bergman. Simhoni was not his commander, and if Ganot had wanted to evade the task he could have referred Simhoni to his superiors in the Border Police. But Ganot went out into the steep, densely wooded area, ran into the ambush that had killed Bergman and one of his men, and was seriously wounded, but charged the enemy and ultimately extricated the casualties.
This week, when Public Security Minister Avi Dichter ran out of good reasons to justify his decision to appoint Ganot police commissioner, he repeatedly sent those who objected it back to that ambush. Ganot, Dichter says at every opportunity, lost an eye in a state mission. As if the minister did not behave insensitively in recent months, to the point of alienation, toward another top police officer, who lost an eye in his military service in the North in Egoz, of all units. That man, Moshe Mizrahi, in contrast to Ganot, came to symbolize the battle against corruption.
Corruption is of no interest to Dichter. He consulted with the prime minister and leader of his party, Ehud Olmert, who is himself entangled in a corruption affair, about the appointment of a new police commissioner. The No. 1 suspect will appoint the No. 1 policeman, who will not interrogate him, but will influence the promotion of those who do interrogate him. Dichter, who sanctifies performance, has indeed found an industrious doer. It would have been easier to appoint a commissioner who is not controversial. The judgment behind the appointment is so flawed and the disregard of the public mood so flagrant, that one begins to have doubts about Dichter's suitability for national leadership. Dichter sings the praises of "organizational culture and operational discipline," but for the post of commissioner chose a person who was part of a deficient organizational culture, and himself breached the discipline that he demanded from his subordinates.
In 2004 Tzachi Hanegbi skipped a generation in the upper echelons of the police when he decided to appoint Moshe Karadi, then 44, as commissioner. Dichter has now also skipped a generation, but in reverse. The revolution is dead, long live the counterrevolution. Dichter, Karadi and Ganot did not behave wisely during the chain of events that engendered the Zeiler Commission and the tumult around the change of commissioner. The three of them, who reached the highest rank in their organizations, caused themselves major damage which could have been avoided.
The Karadi and Ganot affairs are similar in one important respect: the effect of serving in relatively remote towns, far from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, on the connections between handlers and sources, officers and felons, cops and politicos (and sometimes judges, too). What the Lachish region and the Southern District were for Karadi, on a small-scale model, the North was for Ganot, who spent long years in the Border Police and as operations officer, commander of a region, deputy commander of a district and finally district commander. The Romans understood what the police refuse to grasp and what Dichter, who was born and lives in Ashkelon, the area around which the Parinyan affair occurred, did not bother to change: It's not a good idea to place a local boy in charge of his region, and orderly rotation is essential.
Karadi was not accused of personal corruption, but of covering up for other officers, his subordinates in the region and the district. He could have spared himself the humiliation if he had agreed, two years ago, to interview - not for the first time - Chief Superintendent Ephraim Ehrlich. In the interview that never took place, Ehrlich intended to supply Karadi, without the media and in a manner that would have rendered the creation of the Zeiler panel unnecessary, facts that had passed him by in the saga of the relations between his protege, Yoram Levy, and the Parinyan brothers. After listening to that report, Karadi would certainly have ordered an investigation into the matter.
Karadi's failure pales alongside Ganot's behavior, which according to Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Kedmi, "subverted and severely eroded the public trust ... [and] was imprinted in the public consciousness as incipient corruption; such a feeling has implications
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