Ehud Olmert and the Vultures

The usual pundits were called to the TV studios to ponder the question of the week - was the Jericho standoff concocted for the election campaign? The answers were both yes and no.

When the Hebrew month of Adar and the Purim holiday arrive, one must be happy, according to Jewish folklore, and when elections are held two weeks after Purim, the jocularity abounds. However, there is no real question here, because the answer is self-evident: obviously the Jericho action was concocted for the elections. There is no other option. And here's the proof: Had Ehud Olmert assumed that the standoff would harm his chances in the elections, would he have pulled it off? Had he estimated that it would take votes away from him instead of adding them - first in opinion polls and then in the ballots - would he have given the order? Of course not.

Olmert is not the exception, for better or worse. This is how everyone thinks and acts as the day of judgment draws near. Therefore, even the various parties' are funny on the one hand and very funny on the other hand. Are the reactions themselves devoid of election considerations? Most reactions are divided in two. Openly they support the action, covertly they deride it, making sure their derision comes across clearly, but remains unattributed.

This column presumes to serve as a sort of guide to the perplexed, a kind of practical voter handbook. The guide hereby establishes that these days every do and don't do, every say and don't say derives from "election considerations." Even acts and statements perceived as "daring" would not be made before being checked out in advance and found pleasing to the voters.

Public opinion polls, especially the internal ones, are the campaign's Delphic Oracle. Nobody inches right or left without poring over the map of opinions in search of minefields. The map, of course, does not know what the people need, only what it thinks they desire.

Imagine what would have happened had Ghandi's murderers not been captured in time, and would have been set free to give interviews all over the place, mocking Olmert's mother. All the birds of prey would have swooped on him instantly, picked at his liver, and Kadima would have plummeted in the weekend polls so drastically that even the elders of Binyamina wouldn't be able to recall anything like it. The big vultures flying the high skies - from Netanyahu to Lieberman to Eitam and perhaps even Ben-Eliezer - are of course above such petty election considerations. They only deal with the real issues, without ulterior motives. But don't forget that vultures feed mainly on carrion, and Olmert, without the military operation, would have been as good as dead, as carrion.

Every step, every word, every blink of an eye should be judged in light of the elections. The wise voter will also notice the strange silence enveloping all the parties. Party discipline is stronger that steel. What has happened so suddenly? Have all the internal controversies disappeared? Has Olmert, the acting prime minister, suddenly become as desirable to his Kadima brethren as Mordechai, the viceroy of King Achashverosh? And Amir Peretz desirable to his grumpy colleagues? And Netanyahu, to those waiting for him round the corner?

The pressure cooker is boiling, and will explode immediately after the elections - first to go off will be the disappointed ones' pot. But the polls forbid disputes in the family now, and dictate a hush over everything.

Just you wait, the victors will also wrangle and sharpen their knives in the kitchen, because the wedding in Kadima - and other parties - is based on interests. How long, do you think, will Shimon Peres dwell with Tzachi Hanegbi, and Haim Ramon lie with Shaul Mofaz, unless the wolves and leopards themselves have already turned into lambs, or rather, sheep?

Indeed, why shouldn't all the party leaders act according to the poll map? Why shouldn't they ask the pollsters before making a move? Don't they have four whole years afterward to say and do the complete opposite? In four years there is plenty of time to surround the walls of Jericho seven times and blow seven shofars. There is no need to hasten to topple the Muqata. But from the Biblical tale, only Rahav emerged in one piece. And the harlot, as every pupil of the state religious school system knows, dealt with food products, not with election-eve politics.