Text size

A man gets up in the morning, still drowsy. He notices the big photo on the newspaper's front page. How wonderful everything is. It looks like an ornate castle from "A Thousand and One Nights." For a moment it looks like the Tunisian president's palace, from which he escaped by the skin of his teeth. Sometimes you have to get in the air in a helicopter to see in disbelief what's happening down below.

This is the home at Moshav Amikam of the incoming Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Yoav Galant, a pastoral setting that inside and out provides every possible comfort. In comparison, all the nice houses around it look like they're from a poor neighborhood.

This edifice belongs to a state employee in uniform, but it lacks one particular attribute: even a fraction of modesty. This nouveau-riche estate is a perfect example of both a fortification and attractiveness, of Crusader architecture and the enchantment of the Levant. And it's the essence of ugly Israeliness.

Let's assume everything was built, paved and planted in accordance with the law. And let's assume that someone in the family is rich. Let's assume. Why do they have to be so ostentatious in the face of other people - close friends and acquaintances alike? Why? It must be because it's harder to conquer that urge than to reconquer Gaza. Some kind of hero.

Just yesterday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wistfully recounted how in his time in the Sayeret Matkal special operations unit he used to return to Jerusalem with Matan Vilnai for Shabbat in an Israeli-made "Carmel Duke" car. Those were the days. But now the Carmel is a scorched forest and the duke from Caesarea, the prime minister himself, has a villa where a private escape road similar to Galant's is planned. In the case of the Caesarea home, it will run through a public nature reserve.

And just this week, Netanyahu likened the defection of Ehud Barak from the Labor Party to a secret Sayeret Matkal operation. Even veterans of the unit shouldn't take its name in vain, boasting as if they were still in uniform. But they left that chapter of their lives behind them long ago.

Yoav Galant, as far as I can tell, is a good guy. You need a miracle to enter Ariel Sharon's office in his time and come out without being corrupted. Apparently you have to be more gallant and less Galant.

And it's not just Sharon. On a clear day from Barak's apartment in Tel Aviv's Akirov Towers you can see Moshav Amikam and the estate in the middle. They are similar, and birds of a feather flock together. It's not for nothing that Ehud actually went for Yoav. We were hoping to sow, but the harvest was rotten. And now what shall we do? And which commander will set an example for his troops, so when he says "follow me," they will act like he does?