1. The old saying "it's worse than a crime; it's a blunder," applies to the construction of the new bridge to the Mugrabi Gate on the Temple Mount. The plans drawn up by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Jerusalem Municipality were okayed by Ehud Olmert, but they were not coordinated with the Waqf and upset the king of Jordan. It didn't take long for the rumor to spread that the Jews are out to destroy Islamic holy sites. From here to an outbreak of rioting, the road is short. The government is not such a hero when it comes to battling its own ultra-Orthodox extremists. It halted work on the Trans-Israel Highway because of a few unidentified bones that turned up in the excavations. In the matter of the Temple Mount, Olmert wants to have it his way. He also thought he was the smartest guy in creation when he initiated the opening of the Western Wall tunnel and set off riots that left 16 Israelis and 69 Arabs dead. Ariel Sharon thought he was the cleverest of men when he went up to the Temple Mount, triggering the al-Aqsa intifada. The problem is that our great brains don't always know how to get out of the fixes that smart people never get into in the first place.
2. The appointment of Prof. Daniel Friedmann as justice minister looks like the revenge of a corrupt political system on the country's law enforcement authorities. Friedmann is considered a brilliant man, but someone who knows him well says that when he moves into his office, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a resident psychiatrist on staff. Last week, Friedmann said that with the illustrious backing of the law, Israel was on its way to becoming a police state. He also said that an indictment always seals the fate of the suspect with the slimmest chances of acquittal, and that cabinet members and MKs were ultimately subordinate to an attorney general, who could destroy them. This totalitarian depiction of the country is galling. What interests the public is not who is for or against Dorit Beinisch or Nili Cohen, but the endless foot-dragging in the courts, the lame attempts to enforce the law, the absence of a functioning bailiff's office, the shoddy efforts to fight crime and public corruption, and the loss of our sense of personal safety. A justice minister should be concerned about quality of life in an organized state, not the petty affairs of the social elite and the political activists. Just this week, Olmert got up in the Knesset and called on the police to continue their probes and crackdown on corruption. Then he goes and appoints a contentious justice minister who will clip the wings of the law enforcement system.
3. Releasing the names of Shin Bet chiefs has also released their tongues. Now they do more talking than we want to hear. At a meeting with military correspondents this week, Yuval Diskin came out looking like a champion worrywart. He expressed concern about the possibility of a military campaign in Gaza. The terror organizations in Gaza are growing stronger, he said. So let's say we win in Gaza (with the emphasis on "let's say"). What then? The clash between these organizations is a danger to Israel. It will bring terror in the long run. Sinai has become their strategic front. He can't sleep at night thinking about the tunnels. And then a little poke in the army's ribs: One of the major achievements of the Lebanon war - distancing Hezbollah from the border -has eroded. The countdown for a Hezbollah attack has begun. Thank you, Diskin, thank you. Two tranquilizers, and I'm going to bed.
4. If Ramon had apologized and said he was sorry, there would have been no indictment, says Menny Mazuz. Now that's odd. Either he's guilty or he's not. Would saying "sorry for shooting you," or "sorry for breaking into your house" get anyone off the hook? If Mazuz really wanted to give Ramon some good advice, he should have suggested something more practical: Add some baking soda to your tea every morning.
5. Shuki Forer, Yitzhak Rochberger and Eliezer Hisdai, the mayors of Rehovot, Ramat Hasharon and Alfei Menashe, have formed a trio. They will be singing at a national mayors convention in Haifa, to be attended by all big shots in the country. The "Three Towns," as the group was dubbed in Maariv, may add Ron Huldai and become a permanent band. With the local authorities in such a rotten mess, with employees going unpaid for months and mayors exempt from paying municipal taxes, I can't help wondering what they have to sing about.
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