As things stand now, businessman Moshe Terry, a member of the Securities Authority, is Finance Minister Silvan Shalom's candidate for the chair of the authority, to replace attorney Miri Katz who leaves the job next month. Terry is an economist experienced in both the public and private market. He served as manager of the Investment Center, as director general of the Postal Service, on the board of directors of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, headed a well-known brokerage and held various positions at Discount Bank, including head of the economic department in the securities division. In recent years he has been involved in the new technology sector and human resources.

Judging by that brief review of his career, Terry would appear to be a suitably professional candidate for the job, but the review would not be complete without mentioning the candidate's political background. He is a well-known Likud activist, a past member of the party's central committee, and is known for his connections with key people in the party. Past political activity, current membership and connections with party members do not rule out a candidate for a state job. There are many senior positions that could be filled by Terry without any reservations, after he faces the appropriate committee for senior administrative positions in the public service. But there are some jobs that should not be held by someone with a political connection, even if they have the necessary professional qualifications. The chairman of the Securities Authority is one of them.

The authority is responsible for a very sensitive area, in which enormous economic interests are involved. It must enforce laws that deal with the financial matters of public companies, and touches on the financial interests of investors. The authority's chairman must initiate new legislation in the area, investigate suspicions of law-breaking or inappropriate use of managerial authority, like insider trading. The authority is in contact with powerful people and corporations, and sometimes is in conflict with them. Therefore, the chairman of the authority must be not only a superior professional but also one of absolute integrity, not subject to influence, and about whom nobody can entertain any doubts or suspicions of preferential treatment.

Moshe Terry does not meet these criteria because of his close ties in the past and present with Likud activists. In the near future, the Securities Authority will have to deal with some delicate, complex investigations in which Likud politicians have been named. Even if the authority conducts the investigations with utter professionalism, if Terry is in charge, there will always be suspicion that his political affiliation played a role in the way the investigation was handled and decided.

It may be that it is not easy to find someone professionally suitable without political connections, but just as appropriate candidates have been found for other sensitive positions, like the Antitrust Commissioner, the finance minister could find someone appropriate for this job, if he looks outside his circle of political friends.

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