There is something in the overbearing air of Avraham Burg, swinging out to the sides, which reminds one of Grover from Sesame Street - that bony, long-limbed figure, floundering like the brushes of a car wash, with a gaping mouth. As such his image and parlance literally wrapped themselves around us in the weekend papers and broadcasts, following his "unequivocal" "victory" in "the elections" that "were held" at "the Labor" "Party."
Without rejecting out of hand the positive potential that Burg may hide, one can point at the strangeness with which his public persona developed. Because, contrary to the ways of the world, in which politicians begin their careers with audacious ambition, and over the years arrive, slowly, to sageness - it seems that with "Avrum" the process has been reversed. As someone who was perceived in his youth, the son of the late Yosef Burg, as the less comical branch of the "Burg-theater," a man of principles and seriousness from a good home, who was already at birth an adult, he has somehow become a starving political wolf pup, the closer he moved to the top. With growing self-confidence he made his way from pleasant maturity - to bubbling immaturity, from a crystallized promise - to primal instinct.
His political path also appears to be reversed: He began his career in a series of pseudo-respectable posts, usually reserved for political pensioners at the end of their political path; and from each one of these posts he came out somehow appearing less and less solid and grounded, increasingly hungry for more.
From his post in the Jewish Agency - the junkyard of Israeli politics - he burst forth sweaty and energetic, some kind of Duddi Kravitz, the hero of Mordechai Richler. And in a forceful and ruthless outburst he charged ... toward what? The pensioners' and ultra-solid post of Knesset Speaker, a position from which many of the nation's leaders are carried out on a stretcher to the cemetery, to the rolling tones of a military cantor.
Now - based on the same chronological rationale - he reached the top of the Labor Party; and only time will show if he will not come to lead, in extreme old age, over the young guard, and from there to some student protest movement.
This is all being said without undermining as such Burg's potential - potential that is certainly more interesting than that of those who entered the political jungle through the military marsh. However, the apprenticeship of this politician serves to highlight the deep absence of normalcy in Israeli politics, and the blocked and winding paths that it offers the ambitious young. For years we hoped for a new leadership, one that would be civilian, principled, eloquent, moderate politically, educated, yet also have that "killer instinct" - the ability to bite hard that brings a person to power.
What should our complaint of "Avrum" be then? That he represents such an image - particularly the bite and the assertiveness - in sometimes being overly assiduous, to the point of becoming a caricature of himself? Perhaps he would have to exaggerate, sweat, cackle, chatter, and to bargain less, were civilian politics paved more for people like him, and were "Avrum" not the only one around.
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