Analysis: Mickey Levy and the Ganot appointment

Dichter knew exactly what he was doing when he chose a police head who was indicted for accepting.

Mickey Levy 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Mickey Levy 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter knew exactly what he was doing when he named a man to head the Israel Police who was indicted for accepting bribes 12 years ago. Attorney-General Meni Mazuz warned him what would happen, but Dichter is banking that the High Court has been sufficiently spooked by the appointment of Daniel Friedmann as justice minister and the justices won't be interested in picking yet another fight with the government by overruling a minister's executive decision. They might criticize his choice, but it would be an extremely bold move for them to rule it "seriously unreasonable" and therefore null and void. Even assuming Dichter has good reason to be confident of the outcome, the question still remains why, of all the available candidates, he chose the one with a serious stain on his record. After searching for a star from outside the system, he was forced to accept that the police is in such a state that nobody serious is willing to sacrifice a good job and salary to become top cop. So instead, Dichter chose the biggest outsider within the force and gave him the job. Yaakov Ganot, at age 60 and heading the Prisons Service, the police's poor, ugly stepsister, wasn't seen by any of the ambitious commanders as a potential rival for the job. He was written off long ago, and not only because of the indictment that ended with an acquittal by the skin of his teeth. Ganot, while admired for his administrative skills, was never top of the popularity stakes in a police force that takes pride, if not in a high rate of solving auto theft, at least in a feeling of camaraderie that runs across the divisions of rank and hierarchy. Dichter, with the instincts of the spy master he used to be, realized all this, and in his crusade to shake the system to its very foundations, sees Ganot as the best man to do this. And if the commanders who were already imagining themselves in the inspector-general's seat feel like resigning, Dichter won't ask them to reconsider. He might even derive a perverse satisfaction from Ganot's notoriety because it infuriates the police brass even more. As for the conspiracy theories going around that Dichter actually wants Ganot's appointment canceled by the High Court to pave the way to the top for the new deputy chief, Mickey Levy, without any appearance of cronyism, it's the other way round. Despite being close to politicians, especially to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, dating from the time Levy as Jerusalem Police chief and Olmert as mayor faced the second intifada's terror together, Levy's appointment would have been greeted with joy by the public. Levy is still the most popular police officer in the country and his appointment as police chief would have gone through smoothly despite a few mutterings in the Knesset and the media. If it was up to Olmert, Levy would have got the job, but Dichter is calling the shots and he really does believe that Ganot is the right man at this time. Levy was brought in from his "pre-retirement" job as liaison in Washington to complete the picture for the senior commanders who thought they were in the race. Dichter resurrected two has-beens and put them in charge. The new numbers 1 and 2 will probably do a good cop-bad cop routine, where Ganot is the tough guy fixing up the system and Levy smooths the ruffled feathers when needed and undertakes any delicate diplomatic missions. But why has Levy agreed to return from his paid vacation overseas to take up the lackluster post of deputy police chief? Two and a half years ago, he hoped to be chosen, but Moshe Karadi got the job and Levy took his Washington consolation prize, resigned to leaving the force as soon as he got back. Now he's coming back to serve under yet another inspector-general, with the vague hope of having another shot at the top job in three of four years. It doesn't make very much sense. Unless one considers Levy's former plans. It was an open secret that he had planned to return to his beloved Jerusalem to run for mayor in a year and a half. But the political support he was building upon seems to have evaporated. His main supporter, Olmert, left the Likud, and while Kadima won the general election, in Jerusalem it came only fourth place with 12 percent of the vote. And if that isn't bad enough, the woman who was supposed to be the top organizer of his campaign, Olmert's bureau chief, Shula Zaken, is now under house arrest, neutralized politically. Levy, who was considered a front-runner to capture Jerusalem City Hall, suddenly faces having to build an election apparatus from scratch. Since the political situation is extremely fluid and anything can happen before the Jerusalem campaign heats up, the office of deputy police chief is actually a comfortable perch from which to wait for the capital's dust to settle. If the opportunity arises, it's the kind of job that can easily be abandoned at short notice, and if not, he can always stay in uniform. Yaakov Ganot's appointment proves that you're never too old to be promoted.