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The ‘Frankel/Leiderman Affair’ and why it matters

The exit of two Bank of Israel governor candidates means something's wrong with Netanyahu's decision-making skills

This past week, amid all the “celebration” of the passage of the budget (and some rather misguided laws), Prime Minister Netanyahu and Finance Minister Lapid suffered a major embarrassment when not one, but two of their candidates withdrew their candidacy for the position of Governor General of the bank of Israel. While it is easy to brush these events aside as minor setbacks, or the products of an overly eager and critical press corps, the reality is much more frightening. These events, in which two candidates were forced to remove their candidacies, point to a deep and very troubling phenomenon: the total lack of process and staff research in important decision making at the very top of our political system.

I am only a moderately connected individual (and certainly not an investigative journalist). However, soon after each announcement I had heard information that should have precluded either of these nominations. How is it possible that both Netanyahu and Lapid, with all the powers of the government at their disposal, did not have access to the same information?

There are only two possible conclusions­ and I am not sure which worse: First, neither the Prime Minister nor the Finance Minister did their homework before making these decisions. Alternatively, Both Netanyahu and Lapid did know the of the candidates’ weaknesses, yet thought the fact that they wanted these individual was enough to overlook any skeletons the candidates possess. What is truly amazing, is not that it happened once, but that happened twice! Furthermore, the second time, Netanyahu announced the appointment of Leiderman (after only two days), not possibly enough time to have done the proper vetting. You would have thought that after the first fiasco, Netanyahu and Lapid would have both spent the time to do a proper investigation. They should have realized they needed to appoint a “Mr. or Ms. Clean”.

So, where do we stand now? What does this mean for our country as a whole? There are many decisions that the government makes on a daily basis. There are many appointments made which the press never examines. What happened in the case of these two recent appointments is clearly an example of how our government makes decisions. That is truly frightening. Is the process of making decisions regarding our security any better? What is the general decision process that takes place in the Prime Minister’s office? One can only hope that concerning decisions that impact our future the proper processes are in place. I fear, however, that they are not.

About the Author
Marc Schulman is the editor of Historycentral.com -- the largest history web site. He is the author a series of Multimedia History Apps as well as a recent biography of JFK. He holds a BA and MA from Columbia University, and currently lives in Tel Aviv. He is also a regular contributor to Newsweek authoring the Tel Aviv Diary. He is the publisher of an economic news App about Israel called DigitOne