Fed Up With the Purists

The country is inundated with nostalgia for the previous state comptrollers. True, they aren?t succeeding all that well in explaining how precisely in their time the rotten apples piled up in the crate.

Every pending revolution drags along a counterreaction, and this week the counterrevolutionary forces had the upper hand. At this moment it appears that the base is defeating the divine.

Until a few days ago, it appeared that something had started to move; that despite it all, the stables were beginning to be cleaned, at long last. This impression is transient. Though a little air freshener has been scattered in the air, the foundations and the roof remain filthy. The bad smells vanished for a moment, whereas the bad taste remains; with endless excuses they are continuing to kosher the creepy-crawlies. Whom didn't they pull out this week to tar the purists, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss and Accountant General Yaron Zelekha? They pulled out the graduates of the comptroller's commando, the veterans of the uphill battles, who related how they had contained the corruption and how the current comptroller is scuttling their previous war. They pulled out journalists of the etrog school, who believed in treating former prime minister Ariel Sharon as though he were wrapped in cotton to protect him like the etrog used in the Sukkot ritual, as well as decent politicians, a rare variety in our climes, though it still nests here and there.

Chirpiest of all was a certain intellectual, who has been in his migratory and confessional period of late and recently compared the cleaning workers to Girolamo Savonarola, no less. This was the priest and ruler whose own purism drove him crazy, who burnt people and books and above all loved to burn people who wrote books; this is the inquisitor whose end was to be hanged in the Florence city square, more than 500 years ago.

The country is inundated with nostalgia for the previous state comptrollers, for those worthy individuals who can only be praised. True, they didn't succeed all that well in winkling the lice off our exhausted body; true, they aren't succeeding all that well in explaining how precisely in their time the rotten apples piled up in the crate; true, their bulky reports are still lying in the depths of bureaus like a stone unturned, like the reports on traffic accidents as a national plague. They roared, and how, and no one trembled. But they were all honorable people, each and every one of them, the previous comptrollers, who do not at all resemble the current, wild comptroller who loves publicity and sometimes leaks and doesn't let people do their work and plots to preempt the Winograd Committee.

One could accept the complaint that Lindenstrauss puts the tail before the horse, but it is also possible to present it differently, the other way around: Perhaps Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a modest soul who hates publicity and never leaks to the media, is in fact the one who is planning to pin the horse on the tail. If the Winograd Committee's conclusions are stern with him, in any case he is as good as dead, and Lindenstrauss will no longer be able to kill him; and if the Winograd Committee is kind to him in April, who will care what Lindenstrauss has to say in June? And thus the wheel is reversed: It isn't the transgressors who are the problem, it is the purists. And note well: "Purist" is the term most heard these days from the ironists; they add the suffix "ist" as if it were a diminutive that thus detracts from importance and decreases value. That bastard "ist" changes left-leaning people into leftists and right-leaning people into rightists, the hissy "ist" of everyone who "loses proportion."

Not very long ago, a voice was heard in the wilderness: "We are fed up with the corrupt." Henceforth it will say: "We are fed up with the purists," and you can carry on your revolution without us.