If Halutz Must Go, This Isn't Why

If I were the chief of staff, I would have called Bank Leumi this morning, and closed my account. I would have transferred my affairs to another bank. Possibly, to another country, to a place where banking confidentiality means something, where there's no ambush awaiting public personalities en route to their private bank account.

One can find many faults with the conduct of the army and the government, and of the chief of staff, in this latest Lebanon war. Dan Halutz may even have to go home. But his selloff of his securities should not be the reason.

Halutz fell short twice, in his assessments of the situation; once when he thought the conflict could be ended in two or three weeks and once when he projected that Hizbullah chief Hannas Nasrallah would soon he eliminated.

The General Staff and the army will yet undergo many a probe; the procedure of internal investigations in the Air Force for instance is unparalleled. Even a novice lieutenant can criticize a colonel. When necessary, investigations will be carried out.

One might deem it esthetically wrong for the chief o staff to engage in his private affairs at the height of an emergency, mere hours after Israeli soldiers were kidnapped and hours before war erupted.

From the public perspective, it were better that the chief of staff and public persons not invest personally in the stock exchange; they should leave their financial affairs in the hands of trustees. But there is no such directive and the chief of staff is not only the top commander of the armed forces; he is also a private individual with a family, with health problems, and with his personal financial affairs.

We may assume that during the war, the chief of staff devoted much more than a working day of eight hours to the army. During his long days, may he not take a moment to handle his own affairs too? Does the chief of staff not undergo testing when he's sick? Do people really want a chief of staff who never lifts his head out of the bunker, who never sleeps and who neglects his private affairs, his health, his family and his finances? Do we want a chief of staff to make fateful decisions when distracted by private issues? Or would we rather he get his problems out of the way and concentrate on managing the war?

Halutz's concern for his investments at such a time is rich fodder for satire, and for public debate on the propriety of such high-ranking people handling their own stock portfolios.

But this affair should be given no attention whatsoever when critiquing his handling of the war. It is astonishing how a financial transaction that lasted perhaps two or three minutes has smirched the chief of staff more than a whole month of blood and death in the mud of Lebanon.