Thursday, August 17, 2006
Vitriol for Halutz and everybody else
Dan Halutz is Israel´s Chief of Staff, the man who managed the last war. Yesterday, the media unanimously called for his head: Halutz must go! Just a minute, what happened? All in all, the war was successful, today the Lebanese Army is taking up positions in the South and an international force is going to guard Israel's northern frontier and possibly even disarm Hizballah. Even those terrifying German warriors - who in the past did us so much harm - are coming here to protect our safety. That were the war's aims, all achieved.
Of course no good deed goes unpunished and in the ferocious "man eat man" environment in Israel, you dont even have to do any good deed to be punished. Poor Halutz, a decent if limited Persian pilot, has some 100,000 dollar savings in Bank Leumi. Some journalist wrote that Halutz had sold all his portfolio a few minutes after being informed of the Hizballah's kidnapping of two soldiers in the North, the incident that triggered this war. Instead of being concentrated in the war, he was thinking about saving his portfolio from the coming crash, and in fact made of use of "inside" information to make a stock exchange profit. And if the public knew that Halutz has sold his shares, in the ensueing panic the whole TASE would surely crashed. Halutz, therefore, was unsuited for his post and had to go.
Now things are calmer. It appears that Halutz is a rather weak investor, he bought when everybody was buying (at the top) and sold when everybody was selling (at the lowest prices). He lost a lot of money on the TASE. His rather obtuse selling on the first day of the war, was in fact done a few hours before the kidnapping, so he has been cleaned of the suspicion that he was exploiting inside information for personal profit. Moreover, his portfolio contained mostly foreign, emerging market mutual funds, independent from Israel's security situation.
Two things can be learned from this pseudo incident:
(1) Halutz is a very weak investor, dominated by rumors and crowd sentiment. If that means anything, he is like everybody else, lacking a leader's spiritual unmovability.
(2) In Israel, everybody is out to get everybody else. People is bad, evil, wishing unfortune to their neighbors and relatives, passionately searching for dirt to throw on the other fellow. We dont have the monopoly of these "virtues", but watching the perverse satisfaction of yesterday's vitriolic TV commenters, oh boy, we are something.