With no authority, change is impossible

Erdan has the hardest job in the entire Middle East. He will be the one held responsible for everything that will happen the day the missiles start raining down on us.

By
July 25, 2013 23:13
3 minute read.
Gilad Erdan welcomes Ban Ki-moon to Israel

Gilad Erdan and Ban Ki-moon 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The next commission of inquiry report has already been written. All that still needs to be done is to fill in the culprits’ names and sign it.

For now, it looks like the leading name will be Erdan. Gilad Erdan.

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The miserable home front defense minister minister. The person who has agreed to take full responsibility for Israel’s safety, but has been given no authority to do so.

Erdan is close to exploding. This has been happening to him often lately. But this time, for a change, he’s absolutely right to be angry.

Erdan has the hardest job in the entire Middle East. He will be the one held responsible for everything that will happen the day the missiles start raining down on us.

(We’re talking about hundreds – maybe even thousands – of missiles that over a few weeks could kill hundreds of people and cause billions of shekels worth of damage.) And yet Erdan hasn’t been given the tools to deal with such a catastrophe.

When Erdan agreed to fill the position, he did his homework, as usual.



And what he discovered was that the only thing the office had to offer was a name. No legal adviser.

No controller. No staff. And no authority to order anyone to do anything.

Erdan is a doer. He’s one of the top Israeli politicians that has emerged over the past decade. He may not be so successful at interpersonal relations and sometimes he has a short fuse. Some people even say that he has not fully matured. His successes, however, are impressive by any standard.

Erdan has succeeded in every position he has held, and for the second time in a row he came in second place in a Likud primary.

He’s serious, articulate, impressive, thorough and hard-working.

So Erdan pored over all of the material and realized that the IDF’s only war scenario involved a massive missile attack on Israeli population centers. He also found out that over the past seven years, since the Second Lebanon War ended, Israel has not succeeded in providing gas masks to all of its citizens.

Millions of Israelis do not have safe rooms or bomb shelters in their homes.

Infrastructure is run-down, protection in factories is not up to standard, and nothing is being done about any of this.

Somebody has to prepare the home front for the next war, and Erdan realized that he was that person.

When Erdan was the environmental protection minister, for example, he had the Clean Air Law that he used to close down factories that failed to curb pollution.

He obligated military bases to clean up contaminated soil. Now, as the home front defense minister, Erdan is authorized to act in accordance with the Civil Defense Law, but the person responsible for implementing this law is the defense minister.

This means that, in the best-case scenario, Erdan can advise the defense minister and hope that he is kind enough to implement the necessary urgent legislative changes.

So Erdan is ready to explode. This situation is ridiculous, he tells his friends. When I was the environmental protection minister I could close down factories, but I can’t go to a refinery in Ashdod and force them to build safe rooms. I can’t force 247 local authorities to hire skilled security officers who have the proper training and background in place of all these people who received their jobs through protekzia (connections). I’m not shying away from my responsibilities.

I am dealing with these issues day in and day out, just as I have always done with projects I’ve taken upon myself. But no one will let me get anything done.

To carry out legislation, I need to be the minister responsible for implementing the Civil Defense Law. That’s all. I’m not looking to steal the IDF away from the defense minister. I have no desire to take control of the army’s Home Front Command. All I want to do is set standards and demand that things get moving.

In the meantime, Erdan has not succeeded. Without any authority, he never will.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.

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