Birds of a Feather

In the next election, voters will have to take something more into account before casting their ballot, their only one: not only who will be prime minister, but who will be his, and our, justice minister.

It is hard for me to write harsh words about Haim Ramon; friendship and empathy sometimes undermine objectivity, I'll admit. I remember our youth, for old time's sake. But it is the nature of youth to pass, and anyone who insists on preserving it risks becoming pathetic. How much more will Ramon withdraw from the account of his great promise? But credit is fated to run out. The golden boy has come down a long and rocky road from his promise to give new life to the Histadrut labor federation to a moldy and uninspiring life in a series of governments. And mold develops in conditions of rot, as we know.

Ramon demonstrated bad judgment twice: once when he gave a forbidden kiss, and a second time - which was far more serious - when he allowed himself to be taken over by the kissing disease. Instead of resting and drinking a lot, sucking candies and eating ice cream as the doctors advised until the fever subsided and the pain disappeared, he continues to be hyperactive. And as far as he's concerned, all the institutions in the land can be destroyed in the fire of his humiliation. Now it is summer, school is out, the beaches are open, and maybe the time really has come to relax at the seaside, as Ramon himself has been thinking of doing for quite a while.

To his misfortune, he has now found an ally, the two of them walk together, and the prime minister is allowing the vice premier and justice minister, birds of a feather, to spread their wings and become national birds. And where is the hoopoe, where has it disappeared to?

Another prime minister was so opposed to having me serve as education minister in his government that he once offered me the job of justice minister. I refused, so he tried to convince me: The justice minister, he said, doesn't have a lot to do in his ministry. Most of the work is done by others: the attorney general, the state prosecutor and their employees. At 12 noon you're free, he promised, and you still have an entire day for your favorite pastimes. After all, you like to deal with questions of ethics and morality, he said, whether seriously or mockingly, and this job is tailor-made for you.

Daniel Friedmann is different. Matters relating to ethics wrap him in silence like spiderwebs. At midday he rises like a lion, bursts forth from a government construction site covered with scaffolding, and like a bulldozer sows destruction, trampling everything in his path. He has already proven his efficiency and gotten what he wanted: The number of people who still have confidence in the institutions of law and justice is steadily declining.

And how can they be believed if the justice minister himself slanders them? Who would have believed that a coddled university professor, who until recently was writing scholarly articles, would be the one to lop off the branch on which the Supreme Court, attorney general, state prosecutor and police sit? And who said journalists have no future? Is retired judge Boaz Okun the next justice minister?

Although they may be delayed, general elections are approaching. This time the voters will have to take something more into account before casting their ballot, their only one: not only who will be prime minister, but who will be his, and our, justice minister. And the next justice minister will have to work from morning to night, full-time, because by noontime he simply will not manage to repair all the breaches in the fence and rebuild the ruins.