Analysis / A Suggestion for Improvement

The state comptroller and attorney general have their hands full. Since the stables have not been cleansed properly so far, a heavy backlog of investigations has accumulated, and dozens of public figures must answer for what they did. It is doubtful whether the comptroller and AG will be able to bear the load.

I would like to suggest a way to streamline the process. Let's turn things around and investigate public officials who have no mansion or ranch or summer house. It is these humble and self-righteous people who are suspect to me. These are the culprits who ride roughshod over the accepted mores - scofflaws who smash the norms that are good enough for our elites.

Let's hear what these arrogant people have to say in their defense. This will dramatically lighten the investigators' load, as the number of those to be probed will drop sharply. After all, how many of them do we have?

Then there is the issue of the preoccupation with Amir Peretz's English - and whether it reeks of condescension or prejudice? The subject came up again this week.

Instead of answering, I will tell you a story. A true story, believe it or not:

About 40 years ago, I was planning to begin graduate studies at an American university and needed letters of recommendation. Among those I asked for a recommendation was Israel Galili, then information minister, who had a reputation for a way with words.

The letter took a long time coming, and I was about to give it up, when Galili surprised me by inviting me to his kibbutz, Na'an, on Saturday morning, to give me the letter. On an especially hot and sweaty morning, my wife, baby son and I got into the junk heap and headed for Na'an. Dorit and Yishai waited for me downstairs while I ran up the steps of the house and knocked on the door. Galili opened it, asked me in for coffee and insisted on engaging me in a profound ideological conversation. A wife and baby were waiting for me, but Galili and I were deep in discussion about the state of affairs - the longed for letter nowhere in sight.

Only after the situation had been thoroughly clarified did Galili withdraw to a side room. He emerged after an hour and festively handed me an official envelope. I leaped down the steps and apologized to Dorit. She was in no mood to forgive me.

Dying of curiousity, we decided to tear open the envelope and read the recommendation. At first glance we didn't take it in, at second glance we couldn't believe it and at third glance we didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Galili's text was brief, strikingly so, yet we believed that it conveyed a lot. At first we couldn't make out the handwriting. After bitter arguments we agreed on it. Here it is in full: 'Te man is good.'

You don't believe it, do you? Neither did we.

I cursed Galili for wasting my time and mainly for spoiling a recommendation form. At first we tried to fix it: we searched the house for a pen to match the minister's ink, and Dorit, whose writing is prettier, labored at length on the "Te." But in the end we despaired. Even if we managed to turn the "Te" into a "The," could there be a university in the whole of America that would not suspect forgery, when it saw "The man is good?" Signed by a minister, yet?

What good then would correcting it do? So we gave it up and didn't send it in.

This, then, is my stand in the argument on Peretz's English: Israel Galili, one of the founding fathers, a man of letters, a kibbutznik and Israel's information minister, from the Western world - that was his English. Nobody criticized it, and the press didn't print a single line of mockery. Did anyone think at the time that Galili was not suitable for anything? That he would have difficulty meeting the foreign press or senior Washington officials?