Monday, January 10, 2005

The best man for the job

Shinui MK Avraham Poraz, former Interior Minister has never been shy of controversy. It comes as no surprise therefore that he is the one leading the chorus of disapproval against the proposed appointment of Stanley Fischer as David Klein's replacement as the "Nagid" - the Head of the Bank of Israel.

Fischer, an American Jew with strong ties to Israel is currently deputy head of CitiBank, the world's largest banking corporation and a past Chief Economist of the IMF. Whether or not he has the relevant professional qualifications to take charge of the Bank of Israel is not relevant to Poraz however:

"I'm not interested in having a man like this in such a high position in Israel's civil service, even if he is an economic genius," Poraz said. "In my view, a person cannot be in a public position in Israel if he has not also gotten himself dirty in the mud of the army. And if he has not been in the wars, and his heart did not palpitate, and he did not go through our anxieties in terror attacks, he is cut off from the Israeli experience."

That he will make Aliyah, denounce his American citizenship in favour of an Israeli passport and accept a huge cut in salary doesn't seem to interest Poraz, for whom the fact that Fischer hasn't been to the army is more important than his standing as a leading economist with a global reputation. For those of us who have made Aliyah and haven't necessarily gone through the army this is hugely disturbing. A Member of Knesset and former Governmental Minister is effectively saying that for certain positions the most important thing on a CV is not one's skills but one's military service.

His attitude is even more surprising when taken in the context that only last year, whilst he held the Interior Ministry, he wanted to separate the issue of conversions from citizenship, making citizenship decisions based on the applicant´s "contribution to society and identification with the Zionist movement, or on humanitarian grounds." This meant that he would consider granting citizenship to non-Jews, such as sports stars, musicians or scientists, who had made significant contributions to Israeli life. So non-Jews who contribute significantly get citizenship whilst Jews who take citizenship and want to contribute at the highest level would be barred from doing so?

Although it's perhaps disturbing that Israel has not been able to produce a suitable candidate for the post, it would be far more disturbing to appoint a badly qualified substitute, just because he or she had gone "through all the wars here with us and when they attack us with Scuds, puts on a gas mask. Netanyahu has defended his choice as a "brilliant man, a Jew and devout Zionist" - surely we should be encouraging people of this calibre to make Aliyah?

In many cases the reason for people not making Aliyah is their concern that they won't be able to find suitable employment - if offered a job in advance it breaks down a lot of objections and certainly seems to have worked in this case. Small minded men like Poraz will continue to object on various grounds but with so many succesful Jews all over the world why shouldn't Israeli institutions and companies be headed up by the best Doctors, Lawyers and Bankers if they are prepared to tie their future in with us? Assuming that Fischer is the right man for the job and is prepared to take it, I will be more that satisfied that at least one senior appointment has been made on the basis of merit rather than on having been a General or a buddy of the PM.


1 comment:

Jack's Shack said...

In many cases the reason for people not making Aliyah is their concern that they won't be able to find suitable employment This is true for a number of my friends who would certainly have made the move already.