Madonna and Childish Behavior

In what normal state does the foreign minister subject his status and prestige to his wife's petty whims?

In his book "No, Mr. Commissioner," Professor Itzhak Galnoor describes the seam between the political system and the public service. This is a coarse, ugly seam, with rips that sometimes cause surreal situations that are not without a humorous side.

The operetta played out on the public stage these days, starring the foreign minister, the Israeli ambassador in the United States and their respective wives, fits in perfectly with the theater of the absurd described by Galnoor in his book.

Cabinet ministers of all parties like to complain about what they consider the exaggerated power of officials. They moan that the senior officials are the real bosses of the country, and that the politicians in charge of them are castrated.

They gripe that every initiative they raise runs into a wall of regulations, budgets, thought patterns and work customs that shrink it and frequently evaporate it. They grumble that their authority to change policy and to renovate is blocked by the barricades set up by the civil administration.

This is, of course, a one-sided presentation. Usually the senior officials are a protective wall against the reckless ideas of irresponsible ministers, and against mixing ulterior motives, whether personal or partisan, into the government's decision-making process.

The senior civil servants have a key role in ensuring the public interest. This is the level that preserves and bequeathes to future generations the routine of proper conduct and lawful administration. It resembles the role of senior, experienced hospital nurses' role in ensuring the patients' well-being.

This characterization of the public service is being corroded in recent years, especially because of the corruption in the Likud. The process is inevitable - the moment the Likud decided on a primary election system that renders its elected officials totally dependent on the party's central committee, it opened the door to flooding the committee with shady members who are elected in fishy methods, and to contaminating the political system and public service with germs of ignorance, amateurism and corruption.

This process creates a cycle of corruption, bringing unworthy people to the Knesset and the cabinet. Eager to fulfill the expectations of Likud Central Committee members, these people insert defective implants into the top levels of the civil service, destroying its tissue.

One of the results of this conduct is the farce now being played out between the foreign minister's office and the Israeli Embassy in Washington. In this farce, the slight to the minister and his wife is more important than the good of the state.

Likewise, the tenure of the ambassador and his wife is more important than the norms of administration and good manners.

What normal democracy appoints a man, whose flawed judgment leads him to covertly record his superiors, to the most important diplomatic post? In what normal state does the foreign minister subject his status and prestige to his wife's petty whims?

The personalities of the ministers and their senior clerks is only half the problem. The other half is concealed in the Sasson report about building the illegal outposts in the territories. The report exposes the trend in recent years of appointing political cronies to key civil service positions, for the purpose of carrying out a certain ideology.

The civil servants - including senior Israel Defense Forces officers and lawyers in the State Prosecutor's Office - who helped build the illegal outposts undermined their positions. They preferred to serve the cause of settlement in the territories over upholding the law and its principles.

These officials have acted and are still acting not as a professional administration staff but as ideologues of the settler community. Thus the infrastructure of the state apparatus, on which the quality of the state's services depends, is being destroyed.

This distressing result will be held against the Likud, which instead of pulling itself together to prevent it, intends to legitimize it by the so-called "Jobs Law," a proposal by the Ministerial Legislative Committee that would turn almost every senior public service position into a political appointment.