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Anyone who didn't hear the speech delivered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon before the television cameras at the Israel Business Conference on Monday (Channel 1 News, 9 P.M.) has never heard avant-garde poetry.

That, at all events, was how it sounded in his declamation - a speech that someone else obviously wrote for him hastily and that Sharon didn't have time to read before delivering it. "Negotiations," Sharon stated and thought there should be a period. The embarrassing silence that followed was rectified by a bodyguard who aimed the microphones at the mouth of his confused master. "That must be sincere and genuine," Sharon continued, and thought that the period must come now. But no, the sentence didn't end there, either. Sharon read on: "According to the road." And then, with the excitement of a bar mitzvah boy who has got lost in the sermon that someone wrote for him and is delighted to see that he has reached the end of the text, Sharon mustered up his strength and finished with the word "map," which remained hanging in the air, divorced from "road," in the finest tradition of Dadaist poetry, which, as will be recalled, sought to shatter common phrases and present them as a collection of meaningless sounds.

To sum up, then: The prime minister is a poet. Which automatically makes his right-hand man for the plan of painful territorial compromises, Deputy PM Ehud Olmert, a deputy poet. In other words, if Sharon is the Bialik of politics, Olmert is the cricket, the "poet of meagerness" from Bialik's poem "Shirati," who, by Jiminy, chirps a song of uni- cricketal concessions, and of "there's no chance that we will succeed in maintaining a Jewish state that has an Arab majority," and of "we will reduce the number of Arabs in Israel to a minimum." This is what the deputy poet has been chirping everywhere of late, and he made the same noises on Dan Margalit's "Politika" current affairs program on Tuesday and irritated the extensive panel that was summoned to the studio to react to his declarations.

A pity. These people - from Uzi Landau on the right to Avshalom Vilan on the left - simply don't understand that the poetry of Olmert and Sharon, indeed all poetry, must never be understood at face value. So when Olmert says "we will ensure the Jewishness of the State of Israel," the deep meaning is: "The Jewishness of the State of Israel is of no interest. What we have to do now is pretend that we are generous and want to give the Palestinians everything, in order to look good to the international community and to make the leftists shut up. Because in any case, neither the Palestinians nor the settlers will agree to accept what we will propose, so what does it cost us to make a proposal?"

This is poetry at its best: to say in eight words what others say in more than 40.

The third shame

If at the outset I tended to agree with the Palestinian delegate to the United Nations, Nasser al-Kidwa, who said that the Israeli occupation is "the shame of the century," the response by Israel's envoy to the UN, Danny Gillerman, made me change my mind.

The events in question took place on Monday, during the UN discussion on the moral validity of the separation fence Israel is building. Gillerman, in the hope of making an impression on someone, held up two photographs (CNN News, 10 P.M.) of Oren Almog, a 10-year-old Israeli boy, one of whose eyes was shattered in a terrorist attack. Did he forget that this trick has already been used in the past and that one never repeats the same trick twice? Gillerman went on to relate that physicians in the United States are even now trying to restore the boy's sight and that if there had been a separation fence, none of this would have happened.

So Nasser al-Kidwa is wrong. The shame of the century is not only the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians. It's also the brutal Israeli use of body parts of its maimed citizens with the aim of turning them into cheap propaganda in its efforts to be perceived as the victimized side in the conflict.

"This is Arafat's fence," Gillerman asserted in the tone of the robber pretending to be the victim, who was supposedly forced by the other side to build the fence.

Another shame, albeit of a secondary nature, is the few friends we have left in the international community, who voted with us on that day, nearly all of them island entities in the Pacific Ocean, such as Nauru and Palau Islands, and especially the mythological Micronesia, which is hopelessly in love with us.

The shame is that no one has yet proved beyond a doubt that these countries really exist and are not the product of Israeli propaganda: Just as Israel is capable of using the eye of a 10-year-old boy for its purposes, it will also not balk at sending a contractor to dump a pile of earth in the ocean so that we will have, amid the hostile world all around, one more friend who will automatically cast its vote for us. We, in return, will send the concrete waste from the separation wall when it is toppled. With so much leftover concrete, it will surely be possible to create another chain of islands.

Max and Moritz at Uman

It's hard to say which of the two mischievous kids is cuter: Dudu Topaz or Aryeh Deri. Or which of them is the craftier. For they incessantly outdo each other in stratagems of currying favor, and it makes no difference at all that one of them is secular (Dudu, television entertainer) and one is religious (Aryeh, former politician). These two yahoos also have unsavory pasts.

In short, this Israel Max and Moritz duo, who got together to pay a spiritual visit to the grave of Rabbi Nachman at Uman, in Ukraine, come across above all - in the film by Yoram Zak, who accompanied them on their trip ("When Dudu Met Aryeh," Channel 2, Tuesday, 9:30 P.M.) - as two distinct television creations, two narcissists, whose strength lies in their fame. And the strength of fame consists above all in possessing the talent to conceal more than one reveals. Is it by chance that they begin their journey of mutual acquaintance by shedding their clothes in front of each other and immersing themselves naked in a mikveh (ritual bath) somewhere in the Judean Hills? The camera keeps a respectful distance from their private parts. The nakedness of gods is something that not every mortal is privileged to see.

The trip to Uman is a great melee and also great happiness, with the dancing and the confessions and the piety and the repentance and the soul of Dudu and the soul of Aryeh. It's all gimmick piled upon gimmick, only without the bitter end of Max and Moritz, whom the miller ground with the flour, and since then the town has breathed a sigh of relief and no one misses them. That's the fate of celebrities once their charm fades.

In search of time past

In contrast to Marcel Proust, who opens his great work "Remembrance of Things Past" with the sentence, "For a long time I used to go to bed early," I, for some time, have been rising early in order to watch the morning shows of Channel 2 and Channel 10. These hours - we're talking about 7:30 to 8-something, are the time of nostalgia and positive news.

Take Tuesday morning, for example. On Channel 2 ,a former Israeli now living in America named Izzy donated NIS 50,000 to a blind woman and her sight- impaired partner from Beit Shemesh, because he was moved by the story of their plight. In the segment called "Closing the Circle," a woman named Iris Uzon was reunited with Dr. Zvi Burba, who treated her 20 years ago when she was discovered to be suffering from a rare blood disease. And on Channel 10 there was an interview with former MK Akiva Nof, who brought a rare recording that he made with John Lennon, in which Lennon sang in Hebrew, not long before his murder: "Jerusalem, we have all vowed, we shall not abandon you ever again."

Those were the days. The nostalgia spot on Channel 2 was devoted to the newspaper Hadashot, which shut down 10 years ago this week. Amnon Levy, a former journalist for the paper, was asked to recount some of his recollections of Hadashot. According to his stories, it was a young, mischievous place, you know. In retrospect, I think it's a bit of a pity that I never read it, and thus missed out entirely on the "youthful rebellion of the Israeli press," as Levy described it, without touching it with even the tips of my fingers.

"On the day I learned about the closing of Hadashot," Levy related, "I locked myself in the bathroom and burst into tears." I'm trying to remember what I did on that day 10 years ago. Undoubtedly I was still stuck in Proust.

Poetry of organized crime

It's not the fault of former MK Geula Cohen that her son, Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, grew up to become what he is today. From a certain age he alone is responsible. The only fault Geula Cohen bears, as far as I am concerned, is in the literary realm: Because of her I am unable to read the poetry of Uri Zvi Greenberg, because every time I get the urge to read him, I remember that he is Geula Cohen's favorite poet.

Three minutes of the program "Listen to a Story" (Channel 2, Tuesday, 6:37 P.M.) were enough to put me off Uri Zvi Greenberg for another three years. Geula Cohen, against the background of the Underground Prisoners Museum in Jerusalem, talked about the time she spent in that institution as a prisoner of the British Mandate government. Poems by Uri Zvi, smuggled into her cell on rolled up pieces of paper, gave her and her comrades the strength to go on aspiring for freedom. The line she remembered was something like "There is no outside in Jerusalem, people walk in it as through corridors," and she stood there and interpreted it with her usual enthusiasm.

What I thought to myself was that just as she isn't to blame for her son having become what he is, we can't blame Uri Zvi Greenberg for raising a fanatic reader who blocks the way of others to his poetry.

What of Cohen's love for Greenberg was transmitted to her son by genetic heredity? On Tuesday, Channel 1 News described for the first time the melancholy state of the war against organized crime: Arch-criminals are evading punishment and innocents are continuing to be murdered, and the most active department of the police seems to be the PR unit. Within this framework, one arch-criminal was arrested with great fanfare and released for lack of evidence in great silence. Within this framework the new uniforms of the police unit for the war against organized crime were designed, and their color and the symbol sewn onto them recall the uniforms of the FBI.

Here's poetry for you: Zero deeds and a lot of images and hot air.

Derrida as a Marrano

The French Jewish philosopher Jacques Derrida, widely known for his complicated scientific jargon, turned out to be - in the documentary film "D'ailleurs Derrida" ("Derrida Elsewhere") by filmmaker Safaa Fathy (Arte, Friday, midnight) - extraordinarily articulate and quite capable of conversing with ordinary mortals. He speaks while walking against the background of places connected with his Jewishness and with his Algerian childhood, and effused so much wisdom that only a tiny fraction of it can be mentioned here. For example, he spent some time talking about his feeling that he is a descendant of Marranos - "Christianized" Jews during the period of the Spanish Inquisition - and the situation of the Marrano, that is, of people who live secret lives, is the greatest enemy of every dictatorship, which cannot tolerate secrets of any kind.

He compared the act of writing to doing a public striptease, and observed that by the very fact that writing is done with words, and that words are by their nature not human, every act of writing resembles a performance before an anonymous audience. This admired person has a great deal more to say, too, and was photographed lecturing in Paris and the United States, always before packed halls, with people sitting on the floor and on the stairs.