The previous meeting of the Labor Party in March 2001 elected ministers for Ariel Sharon's cabinet. The central committee complained that party leaders did not listen to them, did not consult them and - most atrociously - did not bring them appointments and perks.
Ephraim Sneh picked up the vibes and proposed a revolution - the committee should appoint the ministers so that everyone knows on what side the bread was buttered. The applause thundered and Sneh was hoisted high on the party slate - which is how he got appointed Transport Minister.
And so, to this very day, Sneh is living up to his word. He actively hinders any competition, submits to unions, and makes as many political appointments as he can. After all, the central committee must be appeased.
Sneh curbed the construction of the private Jubilee Port in Ashdod because the union - which naturally has representatives on the central committee - would not have it. Sneh thus left us at the mercy of the ports cartel. His excuse: "There was never room for privatization to begin with." Stalin would have been pleased.
Mayors of towns near the airport disapproved of takeoffs at 5:30 A.M., so Sneh quickly pushed the early birds back to 6:00 A.M. Who cares if it made it impossible for many European airlines to schedule effective connecting flights - the mayors have a say in the central committee.
Last week Sneh tried to torpedo privatization of the railroad between Kfar Sava and Rosh Ha'ayin, because the railroad workers are afraid of efficient private management. The director general of the Railroad Authority, Yossi Snir - Sneh's appointee, agrees with his minister.
A short while ago Sneh vetoed the closing of the fish farm in the Gulf of Eilat. What's ecology compared to a request from Minister Shalom Simhon and the farmers' lobby - two very powerful forces on the central committee.
El Al privatization is not a concept Sneh is even willing to entertain - the workers can't stand the idea. Eight months ago Sneh allowed El Al to pump the security charge up to an unprecedented $16 for a return flight. This week, in an unholy alliance with Shas and the National Religious Party, he killed competition on the popular New York route. Consequently, passengers will have to pay $300 more per ticket - just to finance El Al's bloated salaries and surplus manpower.
But the cherry on the pie was his decision to allow a plane full of roulette tables to get airborne - because it would "provide work" for Israel Aircraft Industries. Sneh also recommended opening casinos in development towns, because that's what their mayors want. You guessed it - they too are movers and shakers on the central committee.
But this time the pressure was too high and Sneh had to pass on his socialist revolution - the image of the new Jew - not feet on the ground, but casinos in the air.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now