Shlomi Oz passed away last weekend. Reports say he ran into bad luck and collapsed beside a gambling table at a casino in Bulgaria. We share his family's loss and that of the many friends and acquaintances he made in his private and public life. On Friday they were all there at his funeral, accompanying him on his last rite, just as he had accompanied them down long and treacherous roads; they were parted only by death. May those who remembered him be blessed for staying true and not turning on him. How often have we seen instances where long friendships had been buried even before the body has grown cold?
It was a noticeably odd funeral that drew hundreds of people, including Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, who doubles as a minister with two nonsense portfolios. He was accompanied by his wife, socialite Judy Nir-Mozes Shalom; or perhaps she was accompanied by him. Shula Zaken, the former bureau chief of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, paid her respects, although her former boss was kept from coming as he is in New York for health reasons. We wish him well and good health.
Omri Sharon, the first-born son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, was there, showing he had not forgotten Oz's love for his father and himself. Finally, "businessman" David Appel, who was suspected of involvement in an alleged bribery case connected to the Sharons, was also in attendance.
They weren't the only ones who showed up at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery - Oz's entire entourage attended, including many individuals with connections to the alleged crime organizations headed by Amir Mulner, Ben Cohen and the Alperons. The wife of convicted mobster Ze'ev Rosenstein, who couldn't make it because he is in jail, was there too while Yossi Harari, another convicted crime lord, showed up in person. There may have been more suspected criminals, not all of whom could be easily identified.
The mikveh and tombstone area were filled with the security guards of important people and suspicious people, who melted into one mass that could not be told apart.
Indeed, "Likud activist" Shlomi Oz was a well-known man, mostly to those in a few certain public spheres. He had connections, he could wheel and deal; open doors and close them.
The media insisted on calling him an "ex-criminal," a title implying that although he was a criminal, he had served his sentence and paid his dues to society.
Thus, he could enjoy the best of both worlds, politics and crime, or more precisely both worlds could enjoy him. In this war of the worlds only people of Shlomi's caliber, God bless him, could make peace.
It should be noted that representatives of at least three governments, led by prime ministers Sharon, Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu, attended the funeral, lending the event the semblance of a state affair. The crime families also sent a respectable delegation, and the absence of the Abergil and Abutbul families was felt. It seems overlords and underlords both adhere to the same Torah commandment: Although Israel may have sinned, at the moment in which he is laid to rest he is without blame.
It was an odd but also a very sad funeral and not only for those who attended it: I, too, was saddened by the images of the funeral. Suddenly they looked so familiar to me. The dubiousness of Israeli society in which criminals, government officials and businessmen consort so easily is evident not only on happy occasions like bar mitzvahs, brit milahs and weddings, but at funerals too.
Only in Israel can such groups go hand in hand; only here do they allow themselves to appear together in public. In no other developed country in the world, not even in Italy, would mobsters and government officials dare walk together in such a poisonous procession.
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