Yair Lapid came with the best of intentions, with a genuine desire to change things, to do well by Israel's people. The mistakes personal, behavioral, economic that he makes as he starts out are cheap tuition, marginal, not really important.
As a person with sharp wits, humane and sensitive, he has taken on the chin the energy, the enthusiasms, the subterfuges, and the arrogance of the Budgets Division officials. He was infuriated, and decided to take them down a peg or two immediately. The fact that he did it not behind closed doors, not through their immediate superiors, and not in the large meeting room in his offices, but went straight to his comfort zone, personal communications on Facebook to the world and his wife, shows a lack of understanding of where he is.
Maybe he has not yet absorbed the critical and dramatic power of every word that a minister of finance says or writes. After all, he is no longer the popular journalist, successful broadcaster, cute poet, high-selling author, urban hunk, or election candidate. Minister of Finance is a weighty portfolio. There are heavy public demands of the one who takes the money from the citizens of the country and decides how to share it out. This demands a completely different style of conduct. Even when you're angry or think you're surrounded.
Lapid came with the best of intentions. Shocked at the manipulations of officialdom and the bureaucracy, he wants to force the officials to realize that behind the big numbers, impressive, global billions, are people, the Riki Cohens. He is trying to make them come down from the ivory tower, and send them to see the poor neighborhoods, small communities, mothers and baby carriages. He wants to put a stop to all their diversionary tactics, especially when it comes to the budget. But the minister of finance is too high up, too senior, too busy to free up time to write a post directed against a single person in the Budgets Division whose name was mentioned in connection with raising tuition fees or cutting spending on the universities. Yonatan Regev is not Minister of Defense Yaalon, nor Idan Ofer, nor Adv. Ram Caspi, nor Benjamin Netanyahu. If the finance minister comes out with all guns blazing, he ought to do so against someone his own size.
We are all agog to see what the minister will write about the cynical and exploitative debt arrangements by companies in trouble; about Ilan Ben-Dov and Nochi Dankner; about the farewell to Idan Ofer; gas exports or no gas exports; reform at the Israel Electric Corporation and the seaports; about senior figures in the defense establishment who have already started putting about threats in advance of discussion on spending cuts; and about Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz, who has woken up from his election clumber. Regev is a functionary who continued to do what he was trained to do, to say what he was trained to say. Lapid can change his attitude for him, but that takes time and demands understanding and a human touch. In order to succeed, he must learn to work with his officials. Only they can carry through his order of priorities. Insults and laying blame are not the way.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 10, 2013
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