A Toast to the Captain of Israel's Own 'Concordia'

Israeli democracy has already cracked, the ship is on its side, water is flooding it and threatening to sink it - and the captains are 'coordinating.'

The Costa Concordia was a luxury cruise liner - new, sophisticated, the creme de la creme. It was 290 meters long, had no fewer than 2,000 passenger cabins and had everything -- restaurants, swimming pools, gyms and dance halls. Its safety systems were state-of-the-art.

Huge ships like that, experts said, never sink. The captain, Francesco Schettino, once said that while he would not have wanted to be the skipper on the Titanic, "with proper preparation one can overcome any situation."

Ah, yes, bread and circuses, just bread and circuses. First World vacationers were enjoying it, while Third World sailors were sailing it. Sail on, sail on, my ship.

The last supper on the Concordia was also wonderful. They say that the Italian captain was whispering in the ear of a woman at the bar, and drank a toast to the two of them. Natan Alterman also once raised a toast to an Italian ship captain: "The wind lashed the sea, and the sea lashed the ship, yet the task was completed. We drink to you, Captain, and lift our glass high; we'll meet again on these waters" (from "A Response to an Italian Captain" ). But we won't be meeting Schettino on the waters any time soon.

Before midnight, the passengers heard a loud thump. The ship's crew rushed to announce on the public address system that there was no reason to panic; it was an electrical problem. Only after the second thump did the small group of Israeli passengers run for their flotation devices and money. They realized there wasn't much time. Thus did all the other passengers and crew. Schettino hurried more than all of them; he was one of the first to flee the ship. And his shame was recorded for all to hear.

"Schettino? Listen Schettino, there are people trapped onboard. You have to go back with your lifeboat," yelled a Coast Guard officer.

But Schettino was already sipping coffee on shore.

Coast Guard: "What are you doing?"

Schettino: "I'm coordinating the rescue."

"What are you coordinating there? Get back onboard!"

"I'm not going back; I'm with my second-in-command, Dmitry...do you realize it's dark and we can't see anything?"

Coast Guard: "You've been saying that for an hour already...get back there now!" End quote.

This incident occurred just when people are making reservations for summer cruises. Israeli cruise officials are calm, "we haven't seen any change in demand," they said. The Concordia is sunk, a dozen are dead, dozens are missing and there's around a billion dollars in damage. End of story.

Just when we were sure we'd worn out the cliche about Israel being like the Titanic, sailing blindly toward the icebergs without opening her eyes to the dangers, comes the Concordia, which ran aground on a reef because of its officers' arrogance. It's so familiar, so similar.

While our leaders don't have to flee for their lives like Francesco and his first officer Dmitry - they are well protected, even when onboard ship -they never stop fleeing from their responsibilities.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, like Francesco and Dmitry, merely want to survive, and the hell with their ship. Our Concordia risks being cracked open because of their arrogance.

We are also told there's no reason to panic - after all, Israel, like the Concordia, is the best equipped and the most advanced. They also want to impress those living on the surrounding islands with how big and strong we are, and that's also likely to run us aground. Until then, bread and circuses and conceit.

What better analogy could there be to describe Israel's situation in 2012? The captain claims he's "coordinating," but the truth is that he is drinking coffee and doing nothing. Like Schettino, he sees nothing. The ship is on its side, the occupation continues and there is no longer any diplomatic process, while Iranian scientists are being mysteriously assassinated just to show someone's long reach.

Israeli democracy has already cracked, the ship is on its side, water is flooding it and threatening to sink it - and the captains are "coordinating."

Here's to you, Captain! Let's raise a toast to the Italian captain, who isn't that much different from our own.

Read this article in Hebrew