Fischer on leaving Israel: I’ll miss the people, not the yelling

All in all, it’s fair to say that Israel made a good impression on outgoing Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer.

June 27, 2013 18:52
2 minute read.
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer

Stanley Fischer 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

All in all, it’s fair to say that Israel made a good impression on outgoing Bank of Israel Gov. Stanley Fischer. But he won’t miss the yelling.

In an interview broadcast on Thursday on Army Radio, Fischer showed his softer side, saying that the thing he will miss most after eight years in Israel was “the friendships with many people.

The relationships with people are very different than those I’m used to.”

But while he’s learned to understand the Israeli culture, some things still elude him.

“There are things I completely don’t understand,” he said.

“Yelling all at once around the table, I don’t understand. If two people are already talking at the same time, everyone feels free to join in,” he said. “Everyone’s yelling, nobody is listening, and I don’t understand its functionality.”

Yelling aside, Fischer expressed a strong patriotism. The thing that touched him most? “The fact that this state exists.

I’m embarrassed a little to say this, because it’s not fashionable, but I enjoy the Independence Day celebrations.”

Fischer also spoke about more serious issues, in what will likely be his last interview as governor.

Though he refused to divulge the recommendations he made to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on who should replace him, he did say that a lot of pressure was put on Jacob Frenkel to take the job.

Whether or not Netanyahu followed Fischer’s advice, the two had a good working relationship.

“He’s very smart and he knows to discuss, and he understands things quickly,” Fischer said. “He’s a politician but he’s also interested in topics I’m interested in.”

Asked if he was surprised at the criticism lobbed at Frenkel since the nomination, arguing that his outlook wasn’t suited to the socioeconomic realities of Israel’s economy, Fischer said, “I wasn’t expecting it and I didn’t think it was justified.” Frenkel, he said, is “a man who reads, understands, speaks,” and will be able to adapt.

In general, the populism infusing politics was unpalatable to Fischer, who called it “disturbing.”

“There are things we can’t do,” he said. “We’re not the United States. We’re not Sweden. We have less money, we must understand that.”

When it comes to reducing inequality, he added, the government is not the only one responsible to take action.

“I hope that those who cause inequality from their behavior, who won’t study the core curriculum, that they will also contribute to it. If they contribute, then it can change,” he said, alluding to ultra-Orthodox schools that don’t teach basic math, science and English.

Finally, Fischer said that Israel could take more steps to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians.

“I think we could have made more effort to reach an agreement with them, though I understand that there was no possibility for what happened with Egypt,” where an absolutely powerful figure visited Israel and could provide a more certain followthrough.

The Palestinians are in a more precarious situation, Fischer said. “We have to help them to establish the state that they want.”

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