For the last eight years Stanley Fischer was the Governor of the Bank of Israel. He recently stepped down and PM Netanyahu and Finance Minister Lapid started looking for his replacement.
It is hard to fill Fischer’s shoes. A world-class economist, he navigated Israel’s monetary policy through one of the most turbulent economic times, and did so with resounding success. An obvious decision would have been to choose the person Fischer himself recommended: his deputy, Karnit Flug. But Bibi and Lapid had other ideas, and so began the farcical search for the next Governor.
First came Yaakov Frenkel, who already served in the position during the 1990s. But very quickly his candidacy was put to the test. Apparently, he did not report in the application form an incident he was involved in at Hong Kong airport 7 years ago. He took an item from a duty free shop and asked a colleague, who was standing in line, to pay for it. He himself left the shop with the item, but the colleague eventually did not make it to the cashier and did not pay for the item. Frenkel was questioned by airport security and missed his flight, but the misunderstanding was quickly cleared up and all was forgotten.
After several weeks of media reports and questioning by the selection committee, Frenkel decided he had had enough and announced he was withdrawing his candidacy.
This gave Bibi/Lapid the chance to go back to Flug. But they didn’t (some malicious souls say they do not want a woman in the job). They went for Leo Leiderman, a professor from the Hebrew University. A good candidate. Barely two days went by, and a local TV channel published an incredible scoop: years ago, Leiderman used to consult with an astrologer. Leiderman did not deny this, and said it was all for personal reasons and had nothing to do with his professional life. Another day went by, and Leiderman too withdrew his candidacy.
And so the farcical search goes on.
Never mind Bibi/Lapid. They are entitled to pick the candidate of their choice. The more worrying aspect is the pseudo political correctness that has taken hold of the public debate in this country, forcing two excellent candidates to step away from public office because of silly incidents from their past that were completely blown out of proportion. We have come to expect such things in the warped politically corret climate of the United States. Unfortunately it seems as if Israel has copied yet another bad habit of America.
I completely understand Frenkel and Leiderman. Why give up successful careers to serve the public if this is the kind of s**t they need to put up with even before they started doing their job? There is a saying in Hebrew: “Why put a healthy head into a sick bed?”. How true.