My Choice for Woman of the Year

She is the most humiliated woman, which to me makes her the most exalted. By their vile behavior, the ones who humilated her - Benjamin Netanyahu and his hanger-on, Yair Lapid - gave her a badge of honor.

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How much time does the American president need to decide whether to attack Syria, and how much time does the prime minister need to choose a governor for the Bank of Israel? Which decision is more difficult? All the answers may be found tonight in the sources of Jewish wisdom.

The time that has been freed up in the meantime allows us to stick with tradition: At least six times, this column has written about one outstanding person for that particular year. All is not lost, neither for the Jewish people nor for Israel: When no one stood up, they did, and each in turn was my person of the year. And that is the drop of honey that my column offers on the eve of the new year.

Now I will try to remember them all: Erez Ron, Avi Toibin, Amiel Keinan, Ilana Hammerman, Moshe Silman and Rami Baruch. Most of them are unknown people who became famous for a short time. Go to Google and learn about them.

Although each one is a human story on his or her own, they have a common denominator: They acted courageously when everyone else stood by. They swam against the current in murky waters and opposed evil. They are heroes against their will, since they never intended to be heroes at all. They opposed powerful forces, stepped unwillingly out of the ranks of anonymity and returned to them willingly as anti-heroes.

My person of the year for 5773 is a bit different. Her name is familiar to you and to me, too, even though we have never met. She is the most humiliated woman, which, to me, makes her the most exalted. After all, the ones who humiliated her — Benjamin Netanyahu and his hanger-on, Yair Lapid — are the ones who had the power. By their vile behavior, they gave her a badge of honor.

Nobody really understands why she was disqualified for the appointment, why Bibi detests her so much, or what she did to him. Everyone who knows her has only the highest praise for her; even Stanley Fischer, who got to know her abilities from up close, saw her as the preferred candidate.

True, she does not wear a skullcap, has no American accent, never went to school in Chicago, never fawned on Sara, and always lived here, among us. She never left the country so she could come back wealthier. True, she is no celebrity; she never rubbed elbows with the rich and famous. No scandal has ever touched her; her record is clean. Are these things enough to explain why she was passed over? She was not even worthy to be appointed among four obligatory candidates, because Bibi likes his appointees in his own image.

When I asked a few knowledgeable people about it, they all gave me the same answer: She is too “socially conscious” for him. She is certainly “assertive,” sticks to her professional opinion and doesn’t retract it to please those who are more powerful. As evidence of that, they cited the reports by the Bank of Israel’s research department, which she headed.

But then Karnit Flug made the mistake of her life: In her reports, she did not give full credit to Netanyahu, as finance minister, for the economic recovery. The reports cited “outside factors” that “contributed to support for economic growth”; “the turnaround in global trade and the improvement in the security situation” did their part as well.

Even worse, the research department dared to discuss what had been an open secret: Government policy was responsible for the increase in poverty, which resulted from cutbacks in state aid and child allowances. Many families sank below the poverty line in 2004.

Who did this troublemaker Karnit think she was? Did she think she’d get away with those things so easily? Did she really think she wouldn’t be made to pay for them at the first opportunity?

Anyone else in her place would have turned over the table in anger and frustration and told us what he really thought of Bibi. But she insists on serving faithfully until the moment of transition.

It’s not her, it’s you, you idiots: all the public servants, everyone who is dependent on the government’s ill will. You’re being warned: Unless you make sure to brown-nose Bibi every day of the year, you won’t get any goodies even for the new year.

Karnit Flug, Bank of Israel governor.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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