Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a rally..
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
When Israeli newspapers splash catchy headlines across the front page, it is easy to be captivated, but more often than not, there is more to the story than meets the eye.
Having worked in journalism as well as in government, I have seen both sides of the equation. So when I saw the relentless news coverage of Ari Harow, it was easy for me to see through the media babble.
I worked with Harow twice; first when he served as bureau chief to then-head of the opposition Benjamin Netanyahu, and then in the Prime Minister’s Bureau when Harow served as chief of staff for Netanyahu.
My proximity to Harow during some of the years he worked with the prime minister enabled me to see that Harow is a true Zionist and has dedicated years of his time and effort, through public service, to the State of Israel.
He is a man of sacrifices. As an oleh to Israel in 1985, his family decided to leave the good life in California to settle in Israel.
During his years in public service, he sacrificed much of his personal time and I can attest to the many sleepless nights Harow endured as he worked to resolve the most pressing of issues.
Without divulging details, I can say that I witnessed, on numerous occasions, Harow’s complete dedication to the country and the professional manner in which he worked.
For example, during the 2014 effort by the Obama administration and Netanyahu to reach a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, when then-secretary of state John Kerry was shuttling back and forth between Ramallah and Jerusalem late at night, Harow was focused and we followed his lead.
Even former US ambassador Martin Indyk, the special envoy for Israeli–Palestinian negotiations at the time, shared with me his surprise that we were able to remain so focused when there so much noise in the office surrounding the talks.
During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, when Israel was engaged in a war against Hamas in Gaza, Harow worked around the clock, managing the prime minister’s demanding schedule and dealing with numerous issues amid the strains of war.
Harow’s knowledge and advice during his time in the Prime Minister’s Bureau was deeply valued and there was often a line of people waiting to see him for counsel on this or that issue.
Anyone who knows Harow well is aware that he is often on the phone, taking calls from numerous people seeking his advice.
The media appear to have blown a gasket over Harow’s decision to become a state’s witness, painting this as a move by him against Netanyahu, but not everything is what it seems.
From personal experience, I know Harow to be an extremely loyal person, as he has been to Netanyahu for many years.
The tag of state’s witness is misleading. There is no suggestion that he colluded with Netanyahu over the allegations being leveled at the prime minister. Comparisons with Shula Zaken, who assisted former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s corruption, are well wide of the mark. The simple truth is that Harow had the ear of the prime minister for many years. He is therefore perceived to have valuable information on Netanyahu. Consequently, Harow has been placed under enormous pressure to divulge it.
The media onslaught against Harow is unjustified. For years, the media have worked hard to take Netanyahu down and remove him from office, and this coverage of Harow is seen by many as part of that unrelenting effort.
I have always perceived him to be an honest, hard-working individual whose integrity many people, both in public and in private, have recognized.
Harow comes from a quality family with strong values. I know his parents and siblings personally and they are deeply committed to living in Israel and strengthening the country from within.
So, knowing his background, it is not surprising that Harow is equally committed to the welfare of our country and has worked tirelessly toward that goal.
And I know that for years to come, Harow will continue to dedicate his time to strengthening Israel both here and abroad.The writer worked previously as an editor at The Jerusalem Post and as an assistant to Prime Minister Netanyahu.