First shot: Lying in the hospital bed (News, Channel Two, Monday, 8 P.M.) was an unshaven man wearing blue pajamas. Between his spread legs was a small black teddy bear. At the foot of the bed stood a big Daddy Bear: It was the prime minister, who had come to visit some of those who were wounded in the double terrorist attack on the streets of Tel Aviv's Neve Sha'anan neighborhood.
He asked the man where he was hurt. "In the leg," came the reply. The prime minister smiled - the liquid in the machine that was hooked up to the man was running out - and said that we will defeat the terrorism and then talk peace. The man nodded his head. His wife, who sat some distance away, nodded, too. The black teddy didn't budge: He was apparently the only one in the room who knows the truth.
Second shot: Throughout the day, the television stations looked for interesting people among the wounded for good human-interest interviews. The story of Ihab Ibrahim, the good Arab from the village of Abu Ghosh, west of Jerusalem - the fellow whose wife, who is six months pregnant, fell while their son was trying on a suit in a store that sells what Ibrahim called "intelligent suits" - was utilized to the hilt. Finally, they found an interesting case: a handsome young man who works in a nearby kiosk and wasn't wounded, but who is - incredible!! - an Arab and whose mother is - wow!!! - a Filipina. That's how Gabi Gazit presented them, with gushing enthusiasm ("Elections Daily," Channel Two, 7:30 P.M.). But the young man said - oy vey - that his mother is an Arab, not a Filipina. He had been misunderstood. The story went down the tubes.
Third shot: According to Yehezkel Bakel, deputy director-general of something in the National Insurance Institute, the NII will underwrite free medical treatment for terrorism victims among the foreign workers who are in the country illegally. On top of this, they will get a salary rebate, Bakel told Oshrat Kotler (Channel Two, 6 P.M.). They will also receive money to cover travel to treatment and a plane ticket for a relative from abroad who wants to be by their side. If they have died, they will get the jumbo prize: "We bring out the body," the just man from the NII announced, "and bear all the expenses." If they want, the body will be flown abroad: It's a special, today only, free of charge.
As he spoke, his remarks were translated into English at the bottom of the screen so that the foreign workers might see but not be seen. You have no reason to be afraid, Oshrat Kotler told them in English at the end of the program, as in the tale of the wolf who put on a sheep's skin and bleated in its voice to induce the seven kids to open the door to him. They believed him, the naifs, and he devoured them all.
Fourth shot: Sadek, an Arab shopkeeper from "Sadek's Grocery" on Neve Sha'anan Street, showed a wooden board covered with congealed blood. "We evacuated the wounded on this," he related (News, Channel Two, Sunday, 9 P.M.), and turned it over. On the other side was a list of the rates for international phone calls. Behind him stood beefy types who held a sign stating "Transfer, Moledet." The reporter asked Sadek what he thought about the "transfer" sign. Doing his duty, Sadek mumbled something; clearly, he knew inside him that the board on which he carried the wounded won't protect him for long from the hatred that is standing two steps away.
Just a labor dispute
Like the medical wise-guys who cough into your face while you wait your turn at the clinic and reassure you that their strep throat is psychosomatic, Yoram Binur, the Arab affairs correspondent for Channel Two news, related on "The Kitchen Cabinet with Dan Shilon" (Sunday, 11 P.M.) that the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv was deliberately perpetrated in the area where many foreign workers live because the Palestinians have "an indirect account to settle with the foreign workers" for supposedly taking away their jobs.
How does Binur know this? Did he interview the terrorists before they blew themselves up? No, he heard it from intelligence sources, as Shilon insisted on saying in his name to Adi Laxer, the coordinator of "Kav La'oved," the hot line for the protection of workers, who expressed doubt at the authoritative reporter's theory and termed it "hallucinatory."
According to the logic of the authoritative sources quoted by Binur, the terrorist attack on Sunday was no more than a labor dispute. And the attack at the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv? A dispute between the discotheques of Tel Aviv and those in Ramallah? And the attack at Sea Food Market restaurant in Tel Aviv was initiated - you didn't know? - by the federation of Gaza Strip shrimp restaurants, which were hurt by the competition of the shrimp eateries in Tel Aviv.
So Adi Laxer did the right thing by pointing out the bitter truth that the only thing the foreign workers and the Palestinians have in common is that they are both minorities that suffer abuse at the hands of Israel. He also mentioned - in the midst of the sweet cloud of momentary compassion with which the state covered those who are in it illegally - the man-hunting unit known as the immigration police, adding that if he were a foreign worker, he wouldn't trust its promises or the promises of other governmental officials, from the interior minister to the minister of health.
Sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed the crooked backdrop behind Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna when he declaimed his man's man speech on Sunday at Tel Aviv University and branded Ariel Sharon "the Godfather" (he read the witty jibe from a prepared text, making sure to spoil the joke by his clumsy delivery). Stretched across the blackboard of the auditorium was a white plastic sheet with metal loops, of the kind used in roadside stands that sell watermelons in the summer, and pinned to the sheet were election slogans, also done in plastic, of the kind that are hung on fences at road intersections.
So well did this poverty of material blend with the poverty of content that when reporter Shlomo Raz transmitted part of Mitzna's speech live on "Six O'Clock with Oshrat Kotler" (Sunday, Channel Two, 6 P.M.), the anchor's patience wore out already after the sentence, "The corruption in government is more dangerous than Iraq," the last part of which referred to the Godfather, etc. And she moved quickly, and rightly, to the next item.
Hugs on the Nile (I)
Five millennia of Egyptian diplomacy were reflected (Mabat News, Channel One, Sunday, 9 P.M.) in the eyes of the foreign minister of Egypt, Ahmed Maher, who sat in a salon furnished in a style that in Egypt is ridiculed as "Louis Farouq" in the company of two grim-faced Israelis - Meretz leader MK Yossi Sarid and Meretz candidate for the Knesset Yossi Beilin - and spoke of the need to desist from terrorism and advance the peace, and so forth.
A day earlier, Maher's colleague in the love of Israel, Osama al-Baz, the Egyptian president's veteran adviser, had denounced anti-Semitism in the local press. For a day or two, Cairo embraced these two good Israelis and gave them the feeling of being important. Arab affairs correspondent Oded Granot accompanied them and reported, against the backdrop of the lights of Cairo, on the surprisingly idyllic atmosphere. What a pity that it was all spoiled that very evening by the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv!
Hugs on the Nile (II)
Similar but different Egyptian diplomacy, two millennia old, was the subject, on that same Sunday, of the documentary film "Kingdom of the Nile" (Arte, 10:45 P.M.), which was devoted to a few ladies from the court of the Ptolemaic monarchy in Egypt during the Hellenistic era. The most famous queen, known for her poisoned embraces, was Cleopatra, but those who preceded her were no slouches, either. Among them was Arsinoe III, wife of Ptolemy IV, who, after her husband's death, tried to conceal the fact of his death and to rule in his name - until she was murdered.
Greater than her, truly great, was Arsinoe II, daughter of Ptolemy I and wife and sister of Ptolemy II (in Egypt a marriage between siblings in the royal family was not considered incestuous), who expanded the kingdom and in whose time the country flourished. Archaeologists have long been searching for Arsinoe's jewelry; some claim that the jewelry collection in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles is part of that treasure.
Later that evening, still on Arte (11:30 P.M.), George Bernard Shaw's witty play "Caesar and Cleopatra" was broadcast, in the 1954 film version, with Vivien Leigh as the intriguing queen and Claude Rains as Caesar, who heaps scorn on the low level of politicians and complains - I wrote it down - that: "Men's lives are at the mercy of such fools." From now on, that's going to be my election slogan.
Makes the world go `round
Some people get up at dawn in order to watch the sunrise from Masada, while others get up at 5 A.M. in order to watch, on the French channel TV 5, an 18th-century play starring a lumbering old man who walks with a cane and was wildly applauded when he came onstage.
The actor is Michel Galabru, whose face every fan of French comedies will recognize from "The War of the Buttons" and "La Cage aux Folles" (remade in the United States as "The Birdcage") and "Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez." Like the legendary Louis De Funes, he doesn't have to do a thing, and everyone laughs. The play (Saturday, 5:15 A.M.) was "Turcaret" by Alain Rene Lesage (1668-1747), which mocks the "new elites" of the time - meaning the bourgeoisie, who had become rich - and the impoverished aristocrats, who had to toady up to them because they had money.
Like Moliere's "The Miser" before it, "Turcaret" is a portrait of a wealthy and avaricious bourgeois who is married to a simple woman and longs to take as his lover a certain widow from the aristocracy. Besotted, he fails to see that she is nothing but a tool for extorting money in the hands of a greedy young aristocrat who is breathing down her neck. The comic misunderstandings that this situation generates, and all the heroes and heroines, are mere playthings in the hands of the one and only driving force - money - which makes the world go `round.
Take this waltz
Oh to be in Vienna, bastion of no-worries, where, toward the end of last week, New Year's was marked with the annual gala concert, nearly all of which is Johann Strauss, the father and the son. A myriad of white flowers, brought from San Remo, Italy, covered the organ at the side of the stage and the gilded mezzanines and balconies. The conductor squeezed out of the Strausses all the poetry that can be extracted from these miniature works of four or five minutes and which, after all, were written to be performed in dance halls and have gained everlasting life.
The Vienna Philharmonic, it turns out, can be playful, too: When it played "The Farmer's Waltz" (SAT 3, Wednesday, 11:15 P.M.), the musicians suddenly burst into a quasi-spontaneous, rural la-la-la. As some of the waltzes were played, the camera cruised among the palaces and gardens of Vienna, and during the intermission, viewers at home could watch a documentary film about Graetz, the Austrian city that was declared the cultural capital of Europe last year.
All this waltzing and for us not even one flower from the balcony.
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