Text size

In every respect, almost, it was Benjamin Netanyahu's week, but not necessarily for the obvious reasons.

Not because he stepped, expectedly, into Sharon's old shoes and began harping on the vulnerability of the state. Sharon, however, confessed at the time that from the prime minister's chair things loo ked different than how they looked from the opposition.

It was Netanyahu's week, not because of the news conference he gave, also expected, about poverty in Israel and his plan to eliminate it. He told journalists that as finance minister he acted "like a father of a family that is about to collapse." I did not ask those who were bashed and bruised, but if I had, they might have replied that with a father like that, they'd rather be orphans.

Netanyahu took us abruptly back to the Chrismas season, reminding us of Santa Claus, who showers gifts on all and sundry - a sort of Santanyahu. But why look to Christian folklore, when one can use our own? The former oh-so-successful finance minister may have saved the family whose father he is, but in doing so, he put it through hell. Now he is prostrating himself over the living-dead to resuscitate them, as though he were the prophet Elisha, and he won't get off them until they sneeze seven times and open their eyes.

The main reason this was Netanyahu's week is a little story that I think is huge. I mean the story reported in all the newspapers about Bibi's campaign using his photograph from 10 years ago. Two, three lines sometimes reveal a person's entire internal world. Suddenly, terribly, an abyss opens up, like those sink holes along the Dead Sea, exposing the inner depths of the soul.

The slogans say "Netanyahu, strong against Hamas," while the real Netanyahu is weak facing the mirror. The man refuses to admit and accept the ravages of time. He goes back in the tunnel to 1996, hoping against all odds to restore his former glory and again be elected, surprisingly, as prime minister. Alas, Bibi, Bibi, when will you really change? When will you realize that time passes, and we all grow up and even older - our hair thins and frays, our sideburns go gray, then white, baldness spreads, wrinkles furrow our brow, our chin doubles, the body, too, withers and decays. This is life, and there's no going back.

Was it merely a coincidence that on the same day this week another news story reported the first face transplant, a young French woman, Isabelle Dinoire. But Isabelle had no choice. She had been brutally bitten by a dog, and her face was unrecognizably mauled. Netanyahu is not French, nor a woman, he is no longer young, and as an adult he should understand that passing time is a dog - biting and brutal. I wouldn't like to think Netanyahu would go so far as to place his face at the mercy of the surgeons.

In this context, one cannot but recall Dorian Gray, who refused to accept time's passing. Oscar Wilde's tragic hero grew envious of his own portrait, which would remain forever young while he himself turns white, fattens, grows old. And, lo, Dorian Gray's wish came true: his beautiful portrait in the attic grew ugly and distorted, while he retained his youth. Dorian Gray even vowed to give his soul "for the picture to grow old."

Dorian Gray remained young and handsome in appearance, but his soul rotted and became corrupt. He became destructive, bitter and cynical.