(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Thursday brushed off harsh criticism by five prominent university professors who published a large, front-page newspaper ad earlier in the morning attacking him for the way he performed his duties.
"The state comptroller is not responding to the ad in the Haaretz newspaper," his spokeswoman, Shlomit Lavie, told The Jerusalem Post. "All of the state comptroller's concerns and time are devoted to eradicating corruption and creating a better society. The State Comptroller's Office will continue without let-up in its professionalism, fairness and impartiality to fight for ethical conduct and for wiping out the affliction of corruption."
Professors: 'Who supervises the supervisor?'
The ad was signed by Hebrew University Professors Shlomo Avineri and Professor Yoav Dotan, dean of the law faculty, Prof. Yaffa Zilbershatz, dean of the Bar-Ilan University law faculty, Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, President of the Interdisciplinary Center - Herzliya and Prof. Arik Carmon, head of the Israel Democracy Institute.
It was headed: "Judge Micha Lindenstrauss is causing damage to the order of government in Israel." They charged that there were too many leaks regarding ongoing investigations in the State Comptroller's Office. "Information that is supposed to be kept private by the state comptroller is apparently leaked, including information regarding his intention to investigate, the conduct of investigations, and the means of investigation, all of this while the investigation is still going on."
The professors also charged that Lindenstrauss had blurred what should allegedly be a sharp and clear line between his investigations and criminal investigations by the police. They said he was "misleading" the public by claiming that he can defeat corruption singlehandedly.
With regard to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the professors wrote, the fact that so much was known about the state comptroller's investigations had disrupted the prime minister's work and threatened to paralyze him. The state comptroller should investigate allegations of impropriety but the investigations should not affect the prime minister's functioning while they were still being conducted.
The professors called on the Knesset, which elected Lindenstrauss, to supervise his conduct and make sure he acted properly.
Meanwhile, the watchdog organization Ometz rushed to Lindenstrauss's defense. In a prepared statement, Ometz expressed support for "Lindenstrauss and his determined and brave policy to turn the State Comptroller's Office into an effective and influential tool in the war against corruption."
Ometz charged that the true aim of the professors who published the ad was to "deter the state comptroller and discourage him from conducting examinations and investigations of matters related to the prime minister." It demanded to know where the professors got the money to publish the ad.