I've Never Been Acquitted

I've never had the privilege of being acquitted; never have the police fraud squad or the international crimes unit ever agreed to question me; never has the attorney general agreed to grant me a hearing.

And so I strolled among the righteous and repentant, bereft of deed and crime, and mainly - among innocents whose guilt was not proved. Others fared better than I. Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime minister and permanent candidate of the present and future, was questioned several times and his transgressions became as pure as the driven snow; Ehud Barak, another has-been and would-be, was probed regarding his acts and his associations, and emerged unscathed. Ariel Sharon functioned for years as prime minister, with a sharp investigation sword to his neck all the while. The lists for the next Knesset and cabinet are full of people who were questioned, and they will come out of it soon, not to worry, due to insufficient evidence, not because they are blameless. And as soon as they come out, they join the leading candidates.

Yesterday the acting PM revoked his suit against journalist Mordechai Gilat and his paper Yedioth Ahronoth, which implicated him in the Greek island affair. Ehud Olmert is right: Why should he get entangled in the webs of tricky and suspicion-casting questions and inquiries, after having conquered the mountain? As long as he was climbing up, he sued to restore his honor; once he reached the top, the insult was erased. Who needs to clear his reputation if his he has already been anointed with oil?

No, it's not the same everywhere else. In Canada, for example, it's completely different. Millions of Canadians will be voting in primary elections soon, and incumbent prime minister Paul Martin, until recently a very successful finance minister, is in for a fall. And why are the Liberals probably going to lose to the Conservatives? Because of a few corruption affairs, which Martin himself is not directly involved in, only his associates.

The Canadians clearly have different tastes than we do. Even a hint of suspicion deters them, even a faint stench repels them. Even Silvio Berlusconi, an intrinsically shady character, may not be reelected prime minister in Italy because of a malodorous whiff rising from his own back yard and office. If the Italians have started developing a sensitivity to bad odors, what have we left to say? Absolutely nothing.

Yesterday I heard Olmert's talented lawyer, Eli Zohar, explain on Army Radio why his client withdrew his suit.

"At this time it is not proper to deal with history," he said, adding "there are more important things on the priority list now."

And I naively and stupidly thought that a man has nothing better to do in this world than clear his name, at any time and in any situation. But anyone who thinks that should not complain if the post of prime minister is always beyond his reach.