On June 8th, Avraham Hircshson, Israel’s former Finance Minister under Ehud Olmert, was convicted of stealing 2.5 million shekels from the National Workers Labor Federation while he was its chairman. The current Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is under investigation for (allegedly) illegaly receiving millions of shekels from businessmen for his election campaign. His daughter, Michal, who is in her early 20’s, has somehow managed to make over 12 million shekels in profits from international business.
Lieberman’s troubles have sparked gossip in the Knesset hallways that he will soon be indicted and that his days in the Foreign Ministry are numbered. There are even rumors going around about who might replace him, one of them being the bizarre option of Aryeh Deri, the former charismatic leader of Shas, who himself has done time in jail for (guess what) fraud and bribery. Charismatic and charming as he may be, I honestly don’t know if Deri has any clue about international diplomacy. Though according to a recent report, he is already taking private English lessons.
Actually, Deri wouldn’t be the first foreign minister in Israel’s history who didn’t have a clue about diplomacy. And I’m pretty sure Hirschson didn’t have much of a clue about managing the state coffers (but apparently managed to find a way to steal from them).
Israel’s illustrious political past is dotted with so many similar biazarre appointments that the dots have converged into one big blotch. It’s easy to blame the over-representative political system here, which lets every little party squeeze far more than they are worth from the Prime Minister-elect as he attempts to cobble together a coalition. But what about some basic common sense? Or even a basic atempt to hide the blatant nepotism?
Nonetheless, here are my top 10 outrageous appointments over the recent years. Apologies to those I left out (there are many, I know. If you wish to enlighten us with yours, please respond):
10. Nissim Dahan – The Health Ministry is one of those unimportant ministries handed out as gifts, or bribes, to small parties to ease their entering into a coalition. Dahan, besides wearing a black kippa, also has a black belt in karate and a scuba diving license. He is ordained as a rabbi, and thus qualified to be Minister of Health in Ariel Sharon’s first government. But hey, at least Sharon decided to appoint a full-time health minister.
9. Rehavam “Gandi” Ze’evi – Ze’evi fought in the Palmach and retired from the IDF with the highly-respectable rank of General. He held extreme right-wing views, some would say racist (I would), and was eventually murdered in 2001 by Palestinians in a Jerusalem hotel. He came up with the bright idea to “transfer” Palestinians from the Holy Land, and was thus qualified to be Tourism Minister in Ariel Sharon’s first government. What a great way to encourage people to visit Israel, eh?
8. Yaakov Ben Yizri – Ben Yizri of the late “Pensioners” party has full matriculation, from 1940 (according to the Knesset website). This was his primary qualification for being appointed Health Minister in Ehud Olmert’s government.
7. Raleb Majadele – An Arab representative from the Labor party, Majadele has a high school education and was therefore qualified, if not over-qualified, to be the Minister of Science, Culture and Sport in Ehud Olmert’s government.
6. Dan Meridor– Along with a few other strange appointments in Bibi’s current government, Meridor has been given the made-up Ministry of Intelligence and Atomic Energy. Meridor, who has a degree in law and on various satire shows has been likened to a freightened cat (due to his infamous inabilty to decide and stand on his own) is thus qualified to be minister of anything atomic.
5. Avraham Hirschson – Hirschson has a “partial academic education” (according to Knesset website) and is a good friend of Ehud Olmert. Which is basically all you need to be qualified to steer the nation’s economy in the wrong direction and be Finance Minister.
4. Eli Yishai – Yishai has a high school education, is the political leader of Shas, and is thus more than qualified to be Interior Minister and decide who gets deported from Israel, who is allowed in, and who is stripped of their citizenship.
3. Avigdor Lieberman – Lieberman has a BA in Social Sciences (hey, impressive!). But it is his promotion of a loyalty oath that makes him qualified to act as a light unto nations and represent Israel around the world as Bibi’s Foreign Minister.
2. David Levy – Levy barely knows a word of English, and was therefore fully qualified to serve as Foreign Minister in Yitzhak Shamir’s government and show the world just how enlightened Israel can be.
1. Amir Peretz – Peretz has a high school education and was released from the IDF with the rank of Captain. And so who better to lead Israel into a war in Lebanon than a man who can truly see the big picture, as one may see in the photo above. His English is also impeccable.