Following a scandalous report by Israeli Comptroller Michael Lindenstrauss which found wide-spread nepotism in Government companies, top officials are now scrambling to deny the charges.
Rafi Itzhaki, Head of Human Resources in the Israeli Electric Company said that the charges that over a quarter of the workers at the company are related are far-fetched, "It is true that we like to think of ourselves as one, big, happy family but we believe the comptroller took this metaphor too literally", Itzhaki explained, "That is not to say that none of the employees are relatives, in fact, my own secretary happens to be one of my nieces but what's wrong with that? Does that make her a criminal? Of course not – she does her job just like everyone else," Itzhaki said, "It's simply easier to hire someone you are familiar with, like your own relatives – it saves a lot of time and money for the public which is really our main concern here at the Electric Company, to be honest," said Mr. Itzhaki, "Believe me, it is not easy to have so many relatives hanging around you all day – you think I enjoy having my wife and three sons working here at the company, not to mention fifteen other relatives? You think I would make this sacrifice if it wasn't for the good of the country?" asked Mr. Itzhaki, with tears in his eyes, "What more do we have to do to prove to the country that we are good, honest, hardworking people?"
In the Ashdod Port, where close to half of the employees are related, top officials commented that nepotism is not a problem, "We have a very strict procedure to accept new employees – there is no way that anybody can use their influence to hire their own relatives," said Mr. Agmon, Vice-President of the Port and head of the hiring committee, "I make sure that the people on the committee are not related to each other so that the process will not be tainted – and you'd be surprised to know how hard it was to find the right people. Actually it was impossible," admitted Mr. Agmon, "But I did manage it so that only second degree relations serve on the committee together. That is why David Agmon – my cousin can serve on the committee but my brother, Saul, cannot
– and you won't believe what a hard time he gave me for that! Kinneret, my granddaughter, is our secretary, but I kept my wife out of it. That leaves Yoram Aharonov – Saul's brother in law, and Avi Klepter, Yoram's own second cousin by marriage –as the two remaining members, not counting Yoram's wife, Bella, who had to be included – they're having a rough time just now and we thought we'd help them out by getting them to work together on the same committee," explained Agmon.
"Now – how can anybody call that nepotism? Here I am, bending over backwards to construct a legal, non-biased hiring committee, catching heat from all and sundry here at the port, because everybody and their brother wants to be on it and what do I get from the comptroller? What, a pat on the back, maybe? Maybe he said 'Kol Hakavod, you're doing a great job in the most constraining of circumstances'? Of course not. Like everybody else in this country he is an ingrate! Instead of being thankful that we are allowing the port to operate, he spat right in my face and in the face of the whole Agmon family! I'm telling you, The Agmon family and the rest of the Ashdod Port will not put up with this kind of finger pointing and shameless, baseless accusations! I have half a mind to order my family out of here right now – let's see them operate the port without all of us," Mr. Agmon threatened.
In response, spokeswoman for the comptroller said that the objections, excuses and half-baked explanations on the part of the government companies included in the report are unacceptable, "There is absolutely no excuse for nepotism in this day and age. We believe that the government and all its subsidiaries should hire people solely on their merits without regard to sex, race, religion or family relationship," said the spokeswoman, Tali Lindenstraus.
The original, interesting article in Haaretz (which, curiously, is far less anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic in its English internet version. Am I the only one to notice that?)