In the Land of Gaydamak

On Sunday I traveled to a lecture by taxi. The driver, who is vox populi as everyone knows, asked me what Gaydamak wanted from him and his colleagues; why was he insulting them. At first I did not understand what the driver meant, exactly, so he stuck a copy of Yedioth Ahronoth into my hands. "Read," he commanded, "Read what Gaydamak is saying about us."

And read I did: "If Peretz weren't in the government, what would he do? What can he do, be a taxi driver? The cabinet ministers are very primitive and uncultured. They think like taxi drivers and waiters..." Gaydamak was quoted as saying. If he owned a chain of coffeehouses he would be worthy of boycotting due to the unpleasant aroma arising from it.

I, meanwhile, told the driver not to take it personally or be insulted, because Arcadi Gaydamak was talking about all of us and the taxi drivers were just a metaphor: We are all Gaydamak's drivers, we are all his waiters.

And why shouldn't he think that: He easily reached the conclusion that in Israel money solves everything and brings in the votes, and no one wants to stand in the way of the billionaire's money. After a relatively short time in Israel, Gaydamak already knows: Every Israeli has his price, and that price is generally quite low.

The children's song "Bemedinat Hagamadim" (in the land of the dwarves, or Lilliputians) recently was turned into a song for adults, whose new name shall be given here: "In the Land of the Gaydamaks," as follows: A great noise in the land of Gaydamak (what else is new), the army in uniform (often patched and hanging) goes off to war (after a five-minute consultation in the corridor). And at the head marches (via a plasma screen) Tom Thumb the commander (him or someone else), a steel helmet on his head (as long as there are enough usable helmets in the emergency stores), in his hand a sharp pin (to prick the balloon of the Jewish state).

The latest slogan is "Gaydamak will buy it," and Arcadi is buying everything: soccer and basketball teams, colleges, non-profit associations and local authorities, battered residents from the North and bruised ones in the South. He buys hearts and minds, and at the same time - Get it now, cheap at twice the price! - buys his dream. Within all that stench, it's quite easy to obtain a glatt kosher certificate as well.

Some very wealthy men have made their fortune from bankruptcies, it's their specialty: Buy low, and one day you can sell high. Very soon brigades and divisions will be up for sale, too, those lacking suitable uniforms or proper steel helmets and although they can barely equip themselves with sharp pins, nanotechnologies. If the principle is that Gaydamak presses forward in every sector from which the state has withdrawn, he will reach the army in record time. Whose country is it, anyway, and whose civilians and soldiers in their time of need?

In tractate Gittin of the Talmud, we learn, "Not the mouse is the thief, but the hole." And our government is one giant hole. In defense, too, and not only in education and health and welfare, that black hole opened up, and the mice fill it up and steal and cheat. Gaydamak said in an interview this week that he already has 40 Knesset seats in his pocket, and I think he is mistaken, because Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Finance Minister Amir Peretz have nothing. In the event of an everything-must-go fire sale, it is doubtful that anyone will rise up to compete against Gaydamak.

What happened this weekend in Sderot proves one simple thing: We will never learn our lesson, not even a bit of it.

What happened in the North is being repeated in the South, exactly the same sense of abandonment and betrayal.

And if there is no change on the home front, there is no reason to believe there will be a change at the front.

The only one who learned from this is Gaydamak, ironically, for whom from the North comes not evil but the opportunity to be the next prime minister, and these winds are only strengthening from the South as well. Israel is today the land of unlimited opportunities for such as Gaydamak.

The question is not just whose country is this, but who needs it anyway. After all, any country worthy of the name is supposed to provide security to its inhabitants, above all, security from external threats and fears and from internal want and worry. And if this is true for any state, how much more so for Israel, the safe refuge for a persecuted people. In the face of the dead and the wounded, the poor and the disadvantaged, the sick and even the dwindling survivors of the Holocaust who are still with us, the sovereign raison d'etre of the people that dwells in Zion dwindles too. What is the difference between Israel and America, what do they lack? A people does not live by its flag and its national anthem alone.

All Israel are guarantors for each other. For whom did the government of Israel co-sign, and for what exactly? It founded the state of the Jews in Basel; and they are razing it to the foundations in Sderot, rebellious princes [ministers] and companions of thieves: from "Altneuland" to alte zachen.