Dayan in Brand Land

Uzi Dayan, the retired general and the nephew of Moshe Dayan and Ezer Weizman, embodies a quality market if not a quantity one.

Uzi Dayan, who joined Likud last week, comes from two families, one biological and the other military, which intersect easily. The retired general, the nephew of Moshe Dayan and Ezer Weizman, embodies a quality market if not a quantity one. He is a middling brand in the Israel of the 21st century, which worships television anchors, models and coconut-eaters on television islands. He is not a super-brand like his uncle Moshe, who combined the aura of the warrior with his iconic eye patch.

Even at his nadir after the Yom Kippur War, Moshe Dayan knew how to capitalize on his branding. His name came up, for example, in a conversation between the Republican Jewish lay leader Max Fisher and then secretary of state Henry Kissinger in 1976. Fisher, who had originally supported the governor of his home state of Michigan, George Romney (the father of Mitt Romney, a front-runner to become the Republicans' vice-presidential candidate), was one of the few Jews who enjoyed access to the leaders of the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Kissinger grumbled to Fisher that the Jews were such loyal Democrats that even if the Democratic party picked Hitler as a candidate, only 40 percent would defect to the Republican party. Don't worry, Fisher comforted him after Ford's defeat, now you'll be able to earn a good living. Look at Dayan - he comes to America and gets $3,000 a lecture.

That, of course, was the strong dollar of the old days (and at the time of a dollar account of another Israeli politician; they did not check Dayan). Dayan was one of the greatest corrupters of the Israeli establishment and society. From helicopters, cars and the stealing of antiquities with the forced assistance of Israel Defense Forces troops - the Shin Bet security service, as was its wont, covered up with its silence the offenses of this bodyguarded VIP - to the sale of newspaper interviews. One of his closest and most blind admirers was his aide, Elyakim Rubinstein.

At the end of September 2000, when the Palestinians declared war on Israel, Uzi Dayan was very busy. In that month he was deprived of the post of IDF deputy chief of staff, and in a kind of compensation he was appointed head of the National Security Council. Then-attorney general Rubinstein successfully deflected petitions against Dayan's remaining in the career army in his civilian position. Being very preoccupied, Dayan probably missed what Rubinstein wrote at the time about Benjamin Netanyahu after the Avner Amedi contractor affair involving Netanyahu and his wife. If Dayan had read Rubinstein's remarks, he would not now proudly be volunteering affirmation of Netanyahu's integrity.

Rubinstein, going against the recommendation of the police and then state prosecutor Edna Arbel (but on the advice of then Jerusalem district prosecutor, now State Prosecutor Moshe Lador), determined that there was not enough evidence - as opposed to not being guilty - to try Netanyahu for fraud, fraudulent receiving and breach of trust. He did, however, harshly decry Netanyahu's conduct and the blurring of boundaries between public and private. "This is not an appropriate way to behave in government systems," the attorney general wrote. Using turns of phrase like "a bad feeling," "harsh criticism" and "a measure of ugliness," he found verbal alternatives to an indictment. If that is cleanliness - what is dirt?

Netanyahu, who apparently knows what he has to hide, doesn't need moving contractors this time, but rather dry-cleaning and file-sanitizing services. People in Likud suspect him of courting Dan Meridor as a candidate for justice minister, to satisfy the state prosecutor's office, which likes Meridor, to avoid being harassed by investigators and prosecutors.

If Dayan deserves the mocking criticism he took for his attempts to scrub Netanyahu clean, his joining Likud - a complete U-turn - may be accepted with equanimity. It is like a move to the Armored Corps by a commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal reconnaissance unit who wants to be commander of an armored division, a general of command and eventually chief of staff.

Moshe Dayan began in Mapai, moved to Rafi, came back to the Alignment, left to the Begin government and ended up on a small independent party list. Weizman left Herut/Likud, founded Yahad, and ended up in Labor. Ariel Sharon maneuvered between Mapai, Liberals/Likud, Shlomtzion, Likud and Kadima. The list goes on - Yitzhak Mordechai, Shaul Mofaz, and so on and so on. Ehud Barak could have reached Likud in the 1990s and Kadima two years ago. It all depends on the market's mood swings.

Loyalty has been punished more than treason. Maj. Gen. Yigal Allon turned his political road into a minefield when he remained in Ahdut Ha'avodah. If Levi Eshkol had given in and given him the defense portfolio a moment before it was awarded to Dayan, Dayan and Menachem Begin would have remained outside the cabinet and would have become footnotes. But Eshkol was underwhelmed by Allon, whom he called "that stupid hair-comber" in an interview with Davar editor Hannah Zemer.

Personal mobility between parties reflects the paucity of differences among Labor, Likud and Kadima. There are no huge ideological gaps between Eli Aflalo and Yoram Marciano. After the elections, after all, a government of all three will be formed. Only the internal balances of power within the bloc are unknowns. These are the forces that will affect the size of the portfolio that might be given to Uzi Dayan - a boutique brand, newly on display, another product of the line of that veteran brand, Likud.