Henry Kissinger's famous, oft-quoted remark that "Israel has no foreign policy, only a domestic political system" should be upgraded: Israel's "leadership" does not even have domestic policy these days. The only thing it has are personal, often entirely self-centered, calculations.
It's not just self-interest, but transparently obvious self-concern. It was readily evident during the government crisis that political players do not even bother anymore to wrap their personal aims in the old, threadbare covering; they even shun the hypocritical platitudes ("national responsibility," the "good of the state," the "party's need") that are part and parcel of political culture everywhere.
Today, quite simply, they're "letting it all hang out." Showing no shame, they act with brutish candor, as though they've relieved themselves in the middle of the street; the various players, leading ones and marginal types alike, openly admit to their personal interests, to their petty calculations and egotistical desires. The Labor ministers want to keep their Volvos and their cabinet-level salaries; Sharon wants to be a consensual prime minister for just a bit longer; Benjamin Ben-Eliezer is animated entirely by blunt primaries considerations. Is there a national purpose? Why do they act as they do? Just because - because it suits them, personally. Positions adopted by Haim Ramon and his associates are guided by unmitigated opportunism. Similarly, Benjamin Netanyahu, Shaul Mofaz and the rest of the right are sunk up to their necks in wily calculations of personal utility.
If the media's job in the past was to expose genuine motives lurking beneath a mask of righteousness, media outlets today are hard pressed to stop the gushing flow of vulgar confessions in which these endearing figures tell us about how not-being-a-minister causes sorrow to swell in their chests, how damaging a diplomatic process would be for their own political careers, and how a war in Iraq will impinge upon their private interests (particularly if a "missile falls," leaving many injured). It would appear that only a rare moment of self-control prevented an audible outburst of the politicians' innermost prayer - "Nu!? Where's the terror attack when you need it?" Yes, that expectation of the "redeeming, all-resolving" terror attack, the "next strike" or the "mega-attack," which was actually the raison d'etre of this government of cynics.
Among the coarse, clumsily candid confessions, it came as no surprise that Benjamin ("me, me, me") Ben-Eliezer's remarks stood out. "I'm just sorry that we didn't bring about a diplomatic breakthrough with the Palestinians," commented Ben-Eliezer, adding: "And we could have done so" (Now, what does that mean, "we could have" - if you could have, why didn't you? And if you didn't, on what basis can you now ask for a mandate from the public? Solely on the basis of your desire to sit and doze on a "leather armchair?"). And in the same inane utterance in which he attacked Sharon's "right-wing" extremism, Ben-Eliezer added: "I hope to continue to work with him..." What is this, if not sheer egotistic candor incarnate?
The seventh memorial rally for Yitzhak Rabin was held last night. This ritual of song and sorrow becomes increasingly hollow each year. Slowly, it even loses its subject: Who are we still remembering; what are we recalling? What, in fact, do we embrace? Perhaps it is this: the memory of the final moments in which we witnessed an Israeli leader with integrity.
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