Three Kinds of Ickiness

Ickiness No. 1: illegally employing a migrant whose work permit has elapsed, and thereby explicitly breaking the country's laws, on the assumption that, 'Nobody's going to do anything to me.'

Here is a summary of the plot: Carmela - that is, Carmela Menashe, the energetic radio correspondent who reports on military debacles, who made her name with a show on Israel Radio in which she deals with complaints by unfortunate soldiers, victims of sadistic, heartless officers who have hurt their tender souls and indirectly the tender souls of their hysterical parents - this Carmela succeeded in conjuring up the phone number of Nili's unfortunate, illegal and mysterious cleaning woman. We are talking about Nili Priel, of course, the consort of Defense Minister Ehud Barak. (The local media never use the usual Hebrew word for "wife," which also means "woman," when reporting on the wives of important men; this renders their marital relationships more dignified. )

Where were we? Ah, yes. Nili Priel employed as a cleaning woman a migrant worker whose permit had expired - one of those thousands of anonymous women who were not lucky enough to marry a defense minister, and who earn their living scrubbing the toilets of defense ministers and their consorts, and laundering the soiled clothing of pretty much all of our parents.

Caricature by Eran Wolkowski
Caricature by Eran Wolkowski

Now for the drama. A few of kinds of ickiness are evident here, each embodied by one of the dramatis personae. Ickiness No. 1: illegally employing a migrant whose work permit has elapsed, and thereby explicitly breaking the country's laws, on the assumption that, "Nobody's going to do anything to me. I am the consort of the defense minister and the law is not intended for people like me." Really disgusting.

But here is ickiness No. 2: prostituting the profession of journalism. Aren't you ashamed of yourself, Carmela? Never mind the Q&A program for soldiers whose tender souls have been hurt. Has journalism stooped so low that we will start occupying ourselves with ratting on people?

And finally, ickiness No. 3, the ickiest of all: cleaning toilets. Bending over the toilet bowl and scrubbing well, so no traces of doo-doo or pee-pee remain. This ickiness is something no one would want to take upon himself or herself. For this we have a cleaning woman. Fact: God made that person a cleaning woman and not a journalist or a cabinet minister's consort. Had she been more talented, had she invested more in developing her personality, she would not be a cleaning woman but rather a military affairs correspondent, or perhaps the consort of the minister of military affairs.

Let us now turn things around and play the role of God, who on the Day of Judgment will summon the three participants in this melodrama and determine who shall be consigned to Hell and who will go to Paradise - without taking into account the power and heroism they displayed in this life.

"Nili!" the voice of the Lord of the Universe will thunder. "You broke the laws of the State of Israel, but that doesn't particularly interest me. What bothers me is that you think you are superior to your fellow human beings. To Hell with you! Next in line!"

Carmela, the assertive and combative reporter, who in her lifetime compared herself to Oprah Winfrey, approaches the throne, trembling.

"You!" thunders the voice of the Vengeful Lord. "You little squealer! Go join your gal pal in hell. This shall be the punishment for both of you: to sit for all eternity in the same cell and quarrel over which of you was right in the cleaning woman affair."

The illegal cleaning woman will be the last to approach. She crawls toward God on her hands and knees, clutching the floor rag and the toilet-bowl brush.

"You, most innocent of women, who in your lifetime wronged no one and cleaned up after everyone and whom the immigration police pursued unremittingly," says Our Father Who Art in Heaven. "I would have liked to have put you here at my side in Paradise. You would have helped me pass sentence on all the bad people, who constrained you on Earth. However, I don't have any choice. I too have limits: Somebody has to clean the toilets in Hell as well. With a heavy heart, then, I am also sending you there."

And God, as we know, is the court of last resort. There isn't anyone else to whom we can submit an appeal.