Despite the Heat and the Fast, Talansky Keeps a Sense of Humor

On the Seventeenth of Tamuz, Jews fast and lament the breaching of Jerusalem's walls by the Romans during the Jewish Revolt. Yesterday, 1938 years after that historic event, Morris Talansky insisted on testifying at the Jerusalem District Court despite the summer heat and despite the fact that he was fasting. During his questioning by Attorney Eli Zohar, he tried not to lose his sense of humor. But at the end of the day, his wall of credibility may have been breached.

So did he give Prime Minister Ehud Olmert $72,500, $10,000 or $1,000? And was that money intended to finance the Olmert family's trip to Italy or to pay back Olmert's debts? And did this or that meeting occur during the Jewish holiday of Passover, Sukkot or perhaps Hannukah? During a break, Talansky angrily banged on a table and said: "What matters is that I gave that guy money, and that he admitted to it."

And just what kind of a guy is Talansky? He's theatrical, using lots of expressions and gestures. Sitting down at the witness stand, he sighs, sits up straight, leans forward, leans backward, taps his fingers, holds his head up with his hands and then sighs again. But yesterday, as the questioning continued, he ran out of physical gestures. "The most difficult thing for me is to sit on my tuches for so many hours," he told Haaretz.

In general, he is having a hard time dealing with the ruckus around him, which is why he decided to spend Shabbat in Jerusalem instead of traveling to Bnei Brak, where a traditional wedding ritual was being held for his grandson. "I wanted to give them some peace and quiet," he said, adding, "I feel fine, thank God. The most important rule in life is not to turn every incident into a tragedy, and every tragedy into an incident. It isn't an easy experience but we have to move on."

Meanwhile, in court Talansky repeatedly said he did not remember some events and that he had told the police the truth during his interrogation, but had been under intense pressure at the time. Yesterday, the resistance that had characterized his court testimony in recent days disappeared. At 3:15 P.M., 45 minutes before the scheduled end of his questioning, he raised his hands up in the air and told the judge he wanted to end the session. When the judge asked whether he could not hold on for a little longer, he replied that he was feeling weak.

Outside court, Talansky smiled and said he did not regret testifying while fasting. "Food is not the most important thing in life. I feel fine, thank God and with God's help by Tuesday this will all be history." As expected, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's legal team told reporters that Talansky's credibility had suffered, but only the coming days will tell whether it has been entirely destroyed.