Just Like America

Likud has adopted the American system of "get your party membership card and a government job awaits you."

The Likud Central Committee is the land of unlimited opportunity nowadays, just like America. To be a central committee member means both earning a respectable living, and having your relatives, friends and acquaintances take part in that good livelihood, as the recent reports of the State Comptroller have detailed. As the ancient proverb says, "The ordinary people of Israel need a way to make a living," and it's well known that the Likud Central Committee is "the ordinary people of Israel."

But the current circumstances of "get your party membership card and a government job awaits you" doesn't satisfy the gang's top dogs. So a few Likud MKs got together to work on new regulations for the public and its welfare, and they brought to the Knesset the "Jobs Law." MKs Gideon Sa'ar, Gilad Erdan and Gila Gamliel, with the enthusiastic support of their colleagues, want to define the most senior positions in the public service as "jobs for trusted people," just like in America, and thus turn the half-kosher but stinky into the stinky but glatt kosher.

Now, ahead of the approaching elections, legislation of this ilk, even though it has so far taken its time, will be quickly finished because who from the Sharon camp or the Netanyahu camp won't dance before the silver calves and satisfy their hunger.

The legislators, in their reasoning for the bill, usually rely on America. There, they claim, when a new president is elected and the administration changes, so do the senior officials. And if it's good enough for America, why isn't it good enough for little Israel, which would only do well to follow the example of the world's No. 1 democracy.

There's only one problem: The example might look good, but it could not be worse. Even those who didn't know how corrupting the system was, now know. The skies opened, the lake overflowed, and a flood swept over New Orleans and its environs. George Bush and his entire administration were unable to build an ark in time and save lives.

It turned out the Federal Emergency Management Agency was a broken reed. And how could it do its job if it was headed by one Michael Brown, known as Brownie, who was appointed in 2003 not because of his qualifications but because of his ties to the Bush family. Truth is, he wasn't even a personal friend of the president, but a friend of a friend, Joe Allbaugh, who ran Bush's campaign in 2000. The system that coalition chairman Gideon Sa'ar wants to adopt is therefore a system that takes care of friends and of friends of friends.

And what were Brownie's qualifications when he was named head of FEMA? After all, one can't get a job like that with nothing. Well, he had been the personal assistant to the city manager in the town of Edmond in Oklahoma, which has a population of 68,000 - less than Hadera. From 1991 to 2001 he raised horses, in his capacity as commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association, a full-time job with an annual salary of $100,000.

FEMA does not deal only with horses, but also with people in matters of life and death, and Browns like Brownie were appointed to positions in other vitally important federal agencies - friends brought friends to the Environmental Protection Agency, to the Food and Drug Administration, to the new Department of Homeland Security and even to intelligence agencies. Loyalty to the party and the boss was above all other things, while devotion to human beings and their welfare was abandoned.

That's the America that they want to be like: the silver calves of the Likud Central Committee want to suck, and the ministers and the MKs want to suckle. Count on them to develop the American system, improving it. It is very possible that over here, not only the commissioners of horses will win top jobs, but the horses as well - as long as they aren't Arabian, of course.