Five Comments on the Situation

After the attack in Rafah, with its heavy casualty toll, a word to our Palestinian cousins: For God's sake, don't mess up again.

1. After the attack in Rafah, with its heavy casualty toll, a word to our Palestinian cousins: For God's sake, don't mess up again. Lift your eyes and you will see a little crack in the firmament that has opened for the two peoples. Have a good look at who is standing beside that crack - and take them seriously. These old men, who have joined forces to set a precedent for Israel's withdrawal from the territories, are among the most experienced politicians this country has to offer. Both are a cross between hawks and doves, and both are cynical careerists. Now they are hoping to exit from history with a bang. Both are healthy, energetic and ambitious, but age is age, and time is running out. They won't be around forever. Take advantage of the fact that Arafat, may Allah have mercy on him, is an obstacle no longer. Take advantage of the fact that Bush has been reelected, and with his army mired in Iraq, he is anxious for a deal to be clinched in these parts. Evacuation won't be easy, but these old fellows can do it. Stop the terror and you'll see: "If you want, it is no dream."

2. All puffed up with Tommy Lapid's cleverness and wit, Shinui has ended up screwing itself and being left on the doorstep. Netanyahu pleaded with the party to remain in the government with Labor and United Torah Judaism. The size of the moneybag going to UTJ didn't matter, he said. But Shinui voted no. So what did that achieve? They got the boot, they helped return the ultra-Orthodox to the government and they'll be casting their vote for disengagement from the outside, without their Volvos. Their appeal to Peres in an ad placed in Haaretz is sheer chutzpah: "Tell Sharon: A Likud-Labor-Shinui government without ultra-Orthodox - or elections." Why didn't Shinui insist on that when it joined the government? Is sitting in a government with the National Religious Party any more kosher?

3. The French ambassador Gerard Araud is not just a diplomat. He's a mad psychiatrist. In an interview on Army Radio, he accused Israel of being mentally unbalanced. We are Francophobes, he said, suffering from a pathological hatred of France. It's a national neurosis, he claims, and is particularly angry at TV personalities Yair Lapid and Eli Yatzpan for calling the French "shits": "If such expressions were used in France, you'd cry anti- Semitism."

Where does this guy get off? Did the Dreyfus trial take place here? Did we invent the word "youpin" (French for "zhid")? Did we build the nuclear reactor in Iraq that was planned with Israel's destruction in mind? Did we collaborate with the Nazis and deport the French Jews to death camps? Did we call the French "an arrogant and dominating people," or was it de Gaulle who said that about the Jews? There were days when we thought France was our greatest friend, but as one of the heads of the Quai d'Orsay made clear to me, we were laboring under a disillusion: "It was only a brief alliance because of our common enemy: Algeria. France has been pro-Arab throughout its history, and that's the way it will always be." They call Britain "perfidious Albion," but the title fits more for France. Churchill and Roosevelt took General de Gaulle in when he fled to London and artificially made him a member of the Big Four. America resurrected France's honor and economy, and the French thanked it with "Americans, go home." I adore France. What a pity it's populated by Frenchmen.

4. The first president of the State of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, used to say that the only place he was allowed to stick his nose was his handkerchief. Since then, we've had presidents who think they run the state. The most active of them all is the current president, who loves to meddle in the work of the government. His emissary to President Assad, for example, asked the Syrians to show their goodwill by returning the bones of the executed Jewish spy, Eli Cohen, instead of demanding that they crack down on terror organizations and order Hezbollah out of south Lebanon. Better Katzav should keep his nose in his handkerchief.

5. A correction plus a proposal: In the wake of the microphone-swiping affair, the media recalled that Sharon also hijacked the mike once at a Likud convention. Not true. Sharon and Shamir were sitting together on the dais, and there were two microphones set up - one for the chairman and the other for the speakers. Sharon didn't snatch the mike away. He used the other one. It wasn't a judo match up there. It was a duet. Recommendation for future Labor conventions: Install a separate mike for each candidate for prime minister.