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Is it worth returning to a discussion of the fate of Shinui, which dropped like an autumn leaf? It seems to me the "public interest" test yields an affirmative reply. After all, it is not reasonable for a party, which only four years ago won the faith of some half million citizens, to evaporate just like that and leave no mark behind; after all, its constituents, the people who invested their one and only vote in it, are entitled to an orderly accounting of the assets.

There has never been anything like it: parties have shrunk like clothes in the wash; parties have failed and not managed to cross the voting threshold, but no party has ever before been erased, plain wiped off the face of the earth. How did it fall from the heavens and in such a short time? Numerous thesis papers will yet examine this fascinating question.

Not just the fate of the movement, but also the fate of its leader. Not since Menachem Begin's heart-rending seclusion has there been such a case of hasty withdrawal accompanied by seclusion. Nearly two weeks have passed since Tommy's door slamming and angry walkout of the Shinui Council, and it seems like the ground opened up and swallowed him. The longer the isolation goes on, the watching and wandering about, so grows the wondering: Shinui, were you real or did we have a nightmare?

Lapid reportedly does not discuss matters with the members of his movement, who gather outside his home and cry aloud for clarifications - What will be with you, our general, and what about us, your soldiers? And he, with his "scorching wind," speaks with his abandoned flock solely through the intercom, like God speaking from the machine before exiting it.

And that is really not all right: Let's say Lapid stood not at the head of a political movement but rather a factory. And the factory, heaven forfend, collapsed under him and went bankrupt: Wouldn't the owner step out to meet his workers and engage in a heart-to-heart talk? Wouldn't he try to bolster their spirits? Wouldn't he try hard, with a joint effort, to build them a new world after their old world has been destroyed?

And if Lapid had commanded a military unit that failed in battle, would he not make his way to his stunned troops to infuse them with renewed esprit de corps? Would he not rush immediately to persuade them, in every possible way, that they may have lost the battle but haven't lost the war? We would not want to reach the depressing conclusion that Lapid's peculiar behavior in his difficult hour attests to shell-shock.

We would expect different conduct from a man like Lapid. From a Popolitician like him we expected - in all honesty - that he would arise like the phoenix, give himself a shake like a lion, just as he used to assail the guests on "Popolitika," raised his voice to them and gave them a good shaking, poor things. And now, how great is the disappointment. If the silence continues, and days go by before Lapid emerges to deliver his piece to the nation, then Shinui will miss its last chance for a mercy killing.