Netanyahu, next prime minister
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Advice for the prime minister

Eitan Haber urges new PM to always think of good of the country when making decisions

1. The moment you step off the Knesset podium, after being sworn in as prime minister, there is no more “Bibi” and no friendly slaps on the back. From now on, you are “the prime minister” or at the very least “sir” to your friends, and certainly to your aides and advisors. “Bibi” is only to be used by your wife, your children, your brother, and your father. Please make sure of this.


2. Under no circumstances should you appoint close aides and advisors who have their own personal political agenda and who wish to climb up the ladder. Such ambitious aides are a recipe for trouble. They will always, always, think about how to advance at your expense before thinking about your own good and success.


3. Don’t appoint too many aides and advisors at your office. Too many loyalists around you will only guarantee clashes among them. Make sure that only one trusted associate will have the right to keep your door open or closed; otherwise, it will never be closed.


4. Don’t hand out too many honorary titles. In your previous term in office, you allowed 27 people to print business cards with the title of “advisor” or “honorary advisor.” Keep the Air Force’s slogan in mind: “Look around you carefully; the one you don’t see is the one who will bring you down.”


5. Listen well to the words used by the people around you, mostly at your office. If somebody says: “We decided,” “We announced,” or “We said,” dismiss them at once. There is only one boss at the Prime Minister’s Office, and that’s you.


6. From the first moment, don’t pretend you know everything. Ten years have passed since your previous term as prime minister, and the world completely changed since then. Only after you hear all the briefings about the “situation,” you will realize how much you didn’t know in these past 10 years.


7. Keep all your old friends, and be very careful of the new ones. Tell those who did not invite you to their home before you became prime minister that you will accept their invitation after you complete your term in office. Don’t worry: They won’t be inviting you by then. The prime minister has no new friends. He only meets interested parties.


8. You do not have 100 days, and not even one hour, of mercy. Even before you take office, prepare the plans for the initial period in power and immediately implement them. We are fed up with words. And yes, don’t let anyone divert you from carrying out your plans. Go all the way, to the (bitter?) end.


9. It appears to you that the State of Israel’s real problems at this time are the Iranian nuclear threat, the financial crisis, the Palestinians, and Syria. Well, it only appears to be that way. You will immediately discover that the “honor” of ministers and others is the “important” issue. Ignore such disagreements as much as is possible. The Iranian nuclear issue is more important and more urgent.


10. Don’t listen to the radio in the morning and don’t read newspapers at night. If you listen and read, you will spend your day formulating responses, denials, and spins. You know just as well as anyone that almost all journalists are only wise in retrospect and that all the commentators are completely wrong, just like, by the way, government ministers. You have a plan that you believe in? Go for it.


11. Try as much as you can to lower the level of suspicion towards every person, every statement, and every act. The mad mistrust ruined (almost) all your predecessors. It is indeed true that many people are interested in harming you, but even more people want what’s best for the country.


12. Most importantly: When you are asked to make a decision on any matter, large or small, never ask yourself: What will I gain from it? Rather, ask what the State of Israel will gain. If this is how you will make your decisions, you will be able to stay in power for a long time to come.


13. Please note: People will say bad things about you in their conversations, while only referring to minor matters: How much it cost to replace the furniture at the office, your wife’s haircut, the inappropriate appointment you made, the fact your driver drove too fast, or the fact you ate non-kosher food in public. So pay attention to the small details. When it comes to the big details, most of the people of Israel understand nothing and have nothing to say.


14. A small word of advice: Try to convince personal secretaries Marit Danon (at the Prime Minister’s Office) and Miri Lapid (at the Defense Ministry) to come back or stay at the office. It is no coincidence that half a dozen prime ministers and defense ministers decided to keep them.


15. And two more words: Good luck! Oh, you will very much need it, Mr. Prime Minister.


פרסום ראשון: 02.27.09, 00:19
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