Even the lowliest shepherd knows he needs to lead the flock, without weekly surveys, without asking what the flock wants or which spin will boost the shepherd?s popularity for a moment.
Gasp! Ehud Barak fired adviser Eldad Yaniv. The political town is all astir - we have not had such a sensation for some time. And that's not all: Believe it or not, the commentators even suggest, Reuven Adler, the neighbor downstairs, may be entering the picture. The political foundations have shifted: One confidant goes and a second comes, Rumpelstiltskin.
Between Yaniv and Adler, we are left with a flawed political culture. Instead of the "isms" of the past - revisionism, socialism, communism - we are left to choose between Adlerism and Adlerism. Instead of a leadership that says what it really plans to do, damn it, we will continue to receive spin from the advertisers and attorneys, the mighty mercenaries of Israeli politics.
It is no coincidence that they are attorneys and advertisers. By definition, these professions are second to none in training mercenaries. Their doctrine and craft is to create illusions, deceit, intrigue and deception. They are the servants of all the masters; they are both here and there, "strategic advisers" who counsel tiny tactics.
These advisers for hire (at a fee) switch loyalties like socks, devoid of any worldview, marketing politicians who make fateful decisions as if they were laundry detergent. The legendary Eliezer Zhurabin captured both Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir in his charms. Adler worked with Ariel Sharon before moving to Ehud Olmert. He then promoted Shimon Peres for the presidency and now, in the blink of an eye, he is at Ehud Barak's bosom. Neither has Yaniv remained an orphan: Once he was Abraham Hirchson's attorney, another time he represented Avigdor Lieberman. And he always has been Barak's adviser, but is more loyal to Labor whip Eitan Cabel.
The other advisers too - the list is long - have switched loyalties. While it still may somehow be possible to accept their decisive influence during elections, when there is some place for their expertise, their impact is intolerable during the rest of the year. It says something about them, but even more about their masters, the Israeli leaders.
The Israeli leader generally becomes addicted to these services because of his isolation, his suspicion of those around him, and the loony idea that they, unlike politicians, harbor no personal interests. But a true leader needs to act without any of these illusions. If Barak has an organized and well-formulated worldview, he should express it immediately. He will learn that there is nothing like speaking the truth, complete and pure, to win the people's trust. The same applies, of course, to Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu. But none of them dares to try this straight, direct path.
Leaders are allowed to have advisers, of course. Yossi Sarid started out as an adviser to prime minister Levi Eshkol, but what a difference. It is no coincidence that none of these "strategic advisers" is an intellectual or ideologue, a man of letters or ethics. Even after their cynical and haughty influence was exposed in Anat Goren's excellent documentary "All the Campaign's Men," the Adlers continue to be star players with enormous influence. Nothing was learned. This is bad news for Israeli politics.
These things are always true, but they are especially valid now. In such a critical period, when our reality can be overhauled entirely, we must demand that the leadership free itself from the bear-hug of the backroom advisers. Forget the sophisticated strategic advice and spin. Say and do what you think. Even the lowliest shepherd knows he needs to lead the flock, without weekly surveys, without asking what the flock wants or which spin will boost the shepherd's popularity for a moment. Here is sensational news: There is nothing like telling the truth. When we get a leader who says what he thinks and acts accordingly, we will know a bold and determined leadership has arisen. That will be good for us and, wonder of wonders - it will even be good for the leadership as well.
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