From hero to has-been: A cautionary tale

By Melchett Mike
February 6, 2011

At last there was some encouraging news here, last week. And I am not talking about Hosni’s continued refusal to be rattled by a rabble of rowdy Arab rebels. No . . .

Yoav Galant will not, after all, be the new IDF Chief of Staff.

It turns out that Major General Galant had chapped some 28 dunams (approximately 7 acres/28,000 square metres) of public land adjoining his modest 500-meter family home on Moshav Amikam (near Zichron Ya’akov) – to build roads and a parking lot – in contemptuous disregard of the law and opposition from fellow moshavniks. After all, he was Yoav Galant, quite probably the next IDF Chief of Staff. He also lied about the matter in a letter to the Israel Lands Administration and in an affidavit to the Court.

What the Major General certainly did not expect, however, was that those same neighbours would, through the Green Movement, petition against his appointment to the IDF’s top job. And they have succeeded: the appointment was revoked on Tuesday, two weeks before Galant was to take up his new post, following the Attorney General’s inability to support it. And to them – and, indeed, to us – I say “Well done!”

Most distasteful of all, Galant, far from holding his hands up, has – with all the finesse of a schoolboy, about to be appointed Head Boy, being caught behind the bike shed with a stack of porno mags and a joint – made excuse upon excuse in a forlorn, desperate attempt to stay in the running. (And the Major General is still refusing to take responsibility for his actions, protesting his treatment and fitness for the post on three different, Friday evening, TV news programmes.)

Corruption in this country is rife. From small-time real estate yazamim (entrepreneurs) all the way up to the Prime Minister (Ehud Olmert being the latest, crudest example) – taking in government ministers and the former Tax Authority head along the way (Avraham Hirchson, Shlomo Benizri and Jackie Matza are all currently doing time) – so many Israelis are lining their pockets at the expense of Joe Schmoe and the State.

But whatever happened to idealism? Most native Israelis cannot comprehend why the hell we came here; and when I inform them that I emigrated for reasons of Zionism, they look at me with a mixture of pity and disbelief. But how did Israel, once the land of kibbutz-living, come to this? Could it be (as I have previously suggested) that there are simply too many Jews here, all competing with one other, and with most unwilling to be the freier who misses out?

Major General Galant’s neighbours on Amikam were constantly told that “he deserves [the appropriated land] because he’s a military hero . . . we have no chance against him, because this is how things are done in this country.” (Haaretz)

Indeed, one cannot help but feel a modicum of reluctance to criticise a man who has given this country 34 years’ selfless and distinguished service, and some sympathy that he has fallen so agonizingly short of the very highest office.

It is to be hoped, however, that folk like the Major General will now think twice before putting personal enrichment and greed before respect for their fellow citizens, the law, and their country.



Mon, 02/07/2011 - 18:14

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"Israel, once the land of kibbutz-living"

You seem to know very little about Israel. Kibbutznikim have always been a small minority. City-dwellers, from businessmen to refuse collectors, have always been the majority.

Melchett Mike

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 08:13

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I obviously don't share your intelligence/knowledge, Yoni.

Reread the sentence: It doesn't mean that EVERYONE in Israel lived on Kibbutz.

Or, perhaps, you are still learning the lingo . . .

Joe Millis

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 08:30

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An excellent piece, Mike. As ever.

jose (not verified)

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 08:31

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I obviously don't share your intelligence/knowledge, Yoni.

It will comfort you to know you're not alone in this case!


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