April 8: Ethics vs. competence

Is better to have a leader whose hands are not so clean but is very efficient and steers things the right way, or to have a highly ethical person who is incompetent?

Ethics vs. competence
Sir, – Israel is struggling with a problem that is common to the Western world – corrupt politicians (“MKs hail Lindenstrauss decision to probe all ministers’ trips abroad,” April 6). The question is whether it is better to have a leader whose hands are not so clean but is very efficient and steers things the right way, or to have a highly ethical person who is incompetent.
When someone is running for a senior position, people can appear out of the woodwork to accuse them of improper behavior. I think it was US President Bill Clinton who was accused of smoking cannabis in his student days (and protested that he “had never inhaled”).
These attacks tend to prevent highly motivated and competent people from entering the public domain, perhaps to the detriment of us all.
Sir, – Recently, the Knesset honored Tzachi Hanegbi by seating him near outgoing IDF chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi at a ceremony saluting Ashkenazi. Although his conviction had forced Hanegbi to resign from the Knesset, it did not prevent him from receiving this honor.
Why should one be surprised? While Hanegbi was in court facing charges of fraud, breach of trust, election bribery, improperly influencing voters and perjury, Kadima named him its campaign chairman.
What does it say about our nation that a party appointed as the face of its campaign someone being tried for serious crimes? What does it say about Israelis that this party believed the voters wouldn’t care? Have Israelis become inured to corruption?
No hand-wringing
Sir, – Regarding “Israeli hasbara leaves much to be desired, all at Bar-Ilan parley agree” (April 5), it is possible I am a party of one on this issue, but I assert that the fuss over Israel’s public diplomacy is a wasted effort.
Essentially, there is no hasbara crisis. It emanates from a completely erroneous inferiority complex.
The parties in the world that aim to delegitimize Israel are radical left-wing fanatics, anarchists or crazed Palestinians. Governments are the parties that matter in the question of delegitimization, and no government is making moves to delegitimize the Jewish state. Worrying about delegitimization is a tempest in a teapot.
The fact is, every time over the past 20 years that Israel faced a public relations crisis – from the First Intifada through the Gaza flotilla – the public relations storm blew over. Even the Zionism is Racism and Goldstone blood libels blew over. Israel has never suffered permanent damage from public relations crises of any kind.
Jews and Israelis should stop wringing their hands. Israel should hold its head high like any other country and abandon obsequious hasbara.
Walk in the park?
Sir, – Last Shabbat, my friend, 92 years of age, was walking home from shul through a park with her caregiver. The caregiver is a sweet, delightful and caring woman from the Philippines who has looked after my friend for nearly five years and is like a member of the family.
Coming toward them was a man, perhaps in his early 40s, carrying a book (a siddur?) under his arm, wearing Shabbat clothes and a kippa. When he approached them he spit directly into the face of the caregiver.
Shocked and horrified, the women returned home and remained shaken for some time.
It is horrible and tragic to see what the behavior of some of the people of this wonderful country has come to. The man’s behavior was an attack, very abusive and hurtful, with no acceptable reason! We have to ask why such a dreadful thing happened, and what can be done to deter such behavior in this very family-oriented country.