Not Perfect, but Worthy

If we balance the blot on Ganot's reputation with his administrative qualifications, it would seem that he is in fact worthy of the position.

In the crisis situation in which the police force finds itself, it would have been appropriate to appoint a perfect commissioner - one who understands police work, who has held senior positions in the force, is considered an industrious and successful administrator, is loved and admired, and who is untainted. However, it is hard to find an individual like this. Perhaps Rudolph Giuliani would have done the trick - the man who wiped out crime in New York. But now he's busy running for president of the United States. And if not Giuliani, then there's no choice but to return to the local swamp and choose from what there is.

Everyone agrees that Yaakov Ganot is a doer, a "bulldozer" who has succeeded in the management positions he has taken upon himself. He established the Traffic Police and made the fight against road accidents a declared aim of the police. He established the Immigration Administration, which fought the foreign workers. He even succeeded in changing the face of the Prisons Authority, bringing about the establishment of 10 new prisons and transferring all of the military prison installations from the Israel Defense Forces to the Prisons Authority. In the near future, the police jail facilities will also be transferred to the Authority.

The police major generals who were self-designated candidates for the position of commissioner have greeted Ganot's appointment with anger. "It's a kick in the face," they said. "What's the rush?" they demanded. "The need to search for a person from the outside is an expression of no confidence in the system."

They really should calm down. This is, after all, an internal appointment. Ganot has been in the system since 1964, and has filled many and varied positions in it. And as for the rush, what would they have said had minister of public security Avi Dichter dragged out the appointment for another week or two - and then not appointed them? That Dichter is weak, a coward, submits to pressures and doesn't know how to make a decision, even when the police force is bleeding, with a lame duck at its head.

The truth is that Dichter did not decide in such a hurry. He already wanted to dismiss Moshe Karadi several months ago, in the wake of non-implementation of missions that he had delegated to him for improving the police force's organizational culture, dealing with the unacceptable norms of improper relations between police and criminals and bringing about a revolution with regard to the operational discipline that doesn't exist.

Dichter would have been pleased had Karadi submitted his resignation back when a warning letter was filed against him last May, but he waited for more than another half year until the Zeiler Commission published its conclusions. During that entire period, he looked for candidates for the position, and one of them was Ganot. Therefore this is no hasty appointment.

If there is a problem, it is in the area of probity. When Ganot was commander of the Southern Police District, he became embroiled in dubious relations with a contractor, and an indictment was filed against him for accepting bribes, and for fraud and breach of faith. Those are serious charges. The Nazareth District Court criticized him but also acquitted him, by a majority of two to one, and Ganot emerged from the affair by the skin of his teeth.

It's a matter that should not be taken lightly. At the same time, however, it must be remembered that the affair occurred 13 years ago, and that in the interim Ganot has paid the full price for it, having been distanced from the police for a long period. It should also be noted that in 2003 Ganot's appointment as chief of the Prisons Authority was okayed by the committee for the approval of senior appointments in the civil service, headed by Justice Gabriel Bach, which took into account his entire record.

Indeed this is not a perfect appointment, but it would appear that here is no such candidate. And if we balance the blot on Ganot's reputation with his administrative qualifications, it would seem that he is in fact worthy of the position.

When former public security minister Tzachi Hanegbi appointed Moshe Karadi as the police commissioner, he skipped over an entire generation, and appointed a young man of 44. Now Dichter has made a jump in the opposite direction, skipping up one generation and appointing a man of 60. Experience and maturity also have positive weight in filling a position that is so demanding.