What’s a million shekels off the public’s back when you’re talking about swanky French hotels that cost 2,500 Euro a night for six rooms…two of which nobody actually stayed in…for two days longer than they actually were there for…with the plans being so horribly put together that they had to pay late fees?
This latest disgrace to the citizens of Israel happened this past summer, in July during the 48th Annual Paris Air Show, and was revealed yesterday by the State Comptroller’s Office headed by Micha Lindenstrauss. He said, and quite rightly, “There is no place for spending so much on hotels and lavish suites, particularly during an economic crisis, when most citizens are struggling to make end’s meet.”
He published a 16-page report that depicts careless spending with no supervision of expenses. I guess they have no cheap falafel in France? Too bad.
The defense ministry was quick to absolve Barak of all responsibility of course, saying that he was not in charge of supervision of expenses or which hotels were booked. You see, that’s the problem with Israel. You can never actually find the person in charge, because they rarely if ever seem to exist. The sad thing is, the nonexistent person in charge didn’t even pick the swankiest of hotels. The person picked the swankiest hotels at exorbitant late fees because the event was haphazardly planned at the last minute.
“Nonetheless,” said a defense ministry spokesman, “the defense minister has instructed that from now on, all spending irregularities or deviations from regulations be submitted for his authorization.” Do you think that’s a good idea? I think that’s a good idea. Does this mean Barak is actually in charge now? A living breathing person? I really don’t know what to say. Tears are welling.
Here’s how the expenses broke down:
NIS 527,000 in hotel expenses
NIS 417,000 in covering the rest of the entourage
which totals 944,000, which doesn’t even cover flights, food, or any other expenses.
And get this: Lindenstrauss actually ordered an “accelerated investigation” because an “extensive inquiry” would have taken two years, at which time all those guilty would probably be out of office. This reminds me of a little game I went through when I first moved to Israel and attempted to get my degree from America recognized. Luckily, I knew someone who helped me with the fiasco, who told me to get a certain letter from the unemployment office declaring that I needed my American degree certified “quickly.” Otherwise, it would have taken six months, instead of two weeks.
I see things work this way at the top as well, which is strangely comforting, if not a bit disturbing.
Here’s some other sordid details: The hotel the delegation reserved, the Intercontinental, demanded that the Israeli delegation commit to the suites within four days, agree to pay for the reservation in full in the event of cancellation, and reserve the rooms for six days even though they needed them only for four.
Apparently “international pressure” now includes pesky French hotel managers. We have to be diplomatic, as they say.