All in Favor / The Silence of the Beepers

An uneasy silence has descended on politicians over the affair of Benjamin Netanyahu's pricey trip to London. For many senior politicians, it is an unpleasant issue, since Netanyahu is not the only one who likes luxury hotels. But why has almost everyone else kept quiet?

There is no way to describe it except by saying that the beepers fell silent. Politicians who are normally eager to blame the whole world - and their wives - for just about everything suddenly had nothing to say about the Netanyahu affair. No text messages, no calls, no beeper messages.

Only the acting coalition whip had anything to say. MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said he would ask the attorney general to investigate the sources of Netanyahu's funding.

"The public has a right to know exactly how Netanyahu spent the days of the [Second] Lebanon War and who paid for his pleasure trip," said Hasson.

At a meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee yesterday, MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said: "We did not accept Judaism in order to attend the opera in London." But that was an isolated aside.

MKs did not take advantage of the debate on yesterday's no-confidence motion to attack Netanyahu. Ruhama Avraham Balila, Netanyahu's former secretary, told Likud MKs: "Continue to wallow in your own swamp and the scandals that you are so used to." Maybe that was a hint, but it was a very small one, given such a juicy affair.

It is pretty clear why the candidates for prime minister prefer silence. The candidate from Labor, who lives in the Akirov Tower, and the present prime minister, who loves to collect both apartments and expensive pens, assuredly both realize that any criticism of Netanyahu's love of luxury could easily be turned against them.

But what about the rest of the Knesset?

Not interested in Sara's dirty laundry

There are a lot of explanations. But in the end, it is pretty clear that MKs are simply not interested in Sara Netanyahu's dirty laundry.

Ophir Pines-Paz, Haim Oron and Aryeh Eldad may have been interviewed - but they all agreed to requests from the media; they did not chase after the journalists, as they would normally. This, too, is a symptom.

And what about State Control Committee Chairman Zevulun Orlev?

"I am a religious Jew and I did not see the reports on Channel 10," which aired on the Sabbath, he explained. "I have been trying to learn the facts since yesterday."

Checking one's information is certainly an excellent idea. But the entire principle behind announcements to journalists' beepers is to be first, and almost no one checks the facts out completely.

For example, Orlev did not wait long before accusing the government of responsibility for the terror attack at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva. Evidently, there is not great enthusiasm on the right for attacking Netanyahu.

A senior member of Kadima said the last thing he wants is provide Netanyahu with ammunition for his claims that the attacks are political. This makes sense, but what about the left?

"Meretz is doing nothing that is not connected to the primaries," said faction head Zahava Gal-On.

At the same time, we must remember that there was another silence, that of the Likud.

Three of its MKs spoke up and defended Netanyahu - but what about the other eight?