The Danger of Rotting Our Souls

What dangers do we face from the waves of scandals washing over us? The last week's harvest alone included declaration of a criminal investigation into the prime minister for suspected meddling in Bank Leumi's privatization; the chief of staff quit over the summer war in Lebanon; and the attorney general decided to press rape and other grave charges against our president.

The smaller danger is that the state will remain for some time without a president, a chief of staff in the army, and a prime minister.

The greater danger is that after becoming inured to this level of drama, we will become hardened and indifferent to petty corruption, trivial scandals and "lite" malfeasance.

After all that - how indeed can one find the emotional energy to become outraged when the attorney general finds evidence that local governments withheld salaries? Why waste our time on some small local councils that took provisions for pensions from worker salaries, but didn't put the money into pension funds, using it for other things entirely?

With the nation's leaders under such horrid suspicions, why should we really care what the State Comptroller has to say to vice-premier Shimon Peres over the $320,000 he received in contributions from tycoons such as Haim Saban, Bruce Rapoport and Daniel Abrams?

All Lindenstrauss said was that it "wasn't right for Peres to take accepted the donations, and he should consider returning the money to the donors, or to the state." Yawn. Big deal. How can that trifling issue be compared with the stimulation generated by the top soldier quitting in disgrace, or the muddy race to succeed him?

How can we get involved in yet another dubious donation to a politico when the police is about to investigate whether or not Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tried to dominate the sale of Bank Leumi, in favor of his friends? (Whether or not he did, by the way, his friends bowed out of the race fairly early on.) But do you even remember what this scandal is about? The headlines were just last week, but then the chief of staff, Dan Halutz, jolted the nation with his resignation.

Ariel has a party

Life here is as riddled with rot as blue cheese, with veins of petty corruption that have long since ceased to move us, because day in and day out - much bigger scandals explode. Every day new, ugly connections between wealth and government are formed, every week new foul alliances are concocted, and almost every such event sows the seeds of eventual scandal and disgrace.

Look: nobody even noticed with the communications minister Ariel Atias celebrated a brit mila for his son, and hosted Bezeq (TASE: BZEQ) CEO Jacob Gelbard, Reshet CEO Yohanan Zangan, Yes satellite TV company CEO Ron Eilon, HOT CEO David Kaminitz, Cellcom CEO Amos Shapira, Bezeq International CEO Avi Gabay, and others.

Each and every one of the above gentlemen has issues to promote at the Communications Ministry; they really had to be there, from their perspective.

But they really didn't, from ours. Why did Atias need them at an intimate family affair? Would that distinguished clique have honored him with their presence before he was appointed minister of communications? Should he accept their gifts for his tender offspring? What sort of relationship was forged at that sacred ceremony between the host and his guests?

Don't those questions make you uneasy? Are you, in fact, learning of this party for the first time here? Maybe, but the picture from the brit mila cannot possibly compete with the pathetic images of a president accused of rape, trying to defend himself by having cronies accuse the victim of being a prostitute.


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