Analysis: What made Ezra boil over at Mizrahi?

By DAN IZENBERG
March 2, 2006 01:47
2 minute read.

 
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One can only guess at what was in Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra's head when he lashed out in such an unprecedented manner at Cmdr. Moshe Mizrahi during the first Knesset investigation committee hearing on the Amona outpost evacuation, which had nothing to do with Mizrahi. It's a safe bet, however, that Ezra was still simmering over an extremely critical television magazine report on the allegedly poor functioning of the police by Channel 1's police reporter Uri Cohen Aharonov on the Friday night Yoman news program. It would seem that Ezra believes Mizrahi put Cohen-Aharonov up to it, and perhaps provided him with some of the information he used in his report. Maybe the police minister knows something the public does not know. Even if he doesn't, such an assumption on his part would not be implausible given past events. After all, it was Ezra who fired Mizrahi from his position as head of the powerful Police Investigations Unit just two weeks before Mizrahi's term was due to expire. It was one of the first moves Ezra made after replacing Hanegbi as internal security minister and came as a shock because it was so unexpected. More than a year had passed since attorney-general Elyakim Rubinstein released his 64-page report accusing Mizrahi of illegal wiretapping actions and recommending that police take disciplinary action against him. In the interim, former inspector-general Shlomo Aharonishki had studied the case and decided to suffice with a reprimand to Mizrahi. Hanegbi took no action at all. Until then, Ezra was not particularly known as an enemy of Mizrahi's, and it was not as though Mizrahi lacked enemies, among them legislator Avigdor Lieberman, Ya'acov Nimrodi, his son, Ofer, the publisher of Ma'ariv, and former Ma'ariv reporter Yoav Yitzhak. Lieberman was the first public figure to attack Mizrahi in public, comparing him to an anti-Semite, after the officer began to investigate alleged ties between Lieberman and suspected members of the Russian mafia. During that investigation, which included massive wiretapping, Mizrahi also listened in to the phone calls of Likud power broker David Appel. For reasons that are by no means clear, Mizrahi came to be regarded by many right-wing politicians as a leftist sympathizer who picked on the right. The same was true for one his strongest supporters, then-state attorney Edna Arbel. After Mizrahi was dismissed, he faded from public life, that is, until Ezra unexpectedly resurrected him. He was shunted aside and put in command of the Community Affairs Department and the Civil Guard. As Ezra made clear in his remarks on Wednesday, he hoped Mizrahi would resign from the force. In the year-and-a-half since Mizrahi's dismissal, there has obviously been no love lost between the two, but also no reports of open clashes, even though they have met each other from time to time at working sessions or public events. Since Ezra will not say what led him to unleash such a vicious attack on Mizrahi, we can only guess that either he has inside information about Mizrahi's unpublicized activities, or that he bears an inexplicable and unstatesmanlike grudge against him.

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