The whistleblowers from the Prime Minister’s Office who blew open the Eshel affair appear to have a strong case for why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should have backed them up. After all, what harm did they do? They noticed a problem and fixed it; they witnessed an injustice and reported it. Many self-righteous people have latched on to these arguments and attacked Netanyahu for his cool attitude toward his top staffers.
On paper, there is merit to this reasoning. Whistleblowers are entitled to protection, especially where the prime minister is concerned. But this is not the case here. Not only was their behavior not justified, Netanyahu’s senior staffers Yoaz Hendel, Zvi Hauser and Yohanan Locker ought to do some soul-searching.
The primary purpose – perhaps the sole purpose – of their employment in the most intense place on Earth is to serve the prime minister. They landed their jobs because Netanyahu trusted them, and they, in turn, must trust him. The PMO is the nerve center of national decision-making, where some of the country’s most fateful choices are made. Trust is key. It is an exalted value and sacred code that allows things to run under conditions that are almost intolerable. But through their deeds, the complainants expressed a lack of confidence in Netanyahu. They have thus forfeited their right to be part of his inner circle.
Netanyahu should have been the first to learn of this affair, and he certainly should not have found out about it from the media. Even after it went public, his three top officials should have told him of their involvement, not waited for him to learn about it from the television several hours later. Netanyahu was not on their minds when they did what they did. It is also unclear whether they had R.’s wellbeing in mind, as they also operated behind her back. Perhaps more than anything, their conduct shows they thought of no one but themselves.
Rumor has it that Hendel, head of the National Information Directorate, dedicated a full chapter in his Ph.D thesis to elephant wars in India. True or not, it seems that when it comes to his job at the PMO, Hendel was much more preoccupied with elephant wars than with public diplomacy.
Kadima Chairwoman MK Tzipi Livni attacked Netanyahu’s conduct Tuesday, saying it sent the wrong message both to victims of sexual harassment and those who expose them. That’s a bit rich coming from someone who appointed a convicted sexual offender to head her party’s council and another convicted criminal as her senior campaign adviser.