Luxury Sweet / Paris Is Ours

The commando raid failed again. In the attempt to conquer Paris, all the typical shortcomings of the Israel Defense Forces and the entire defense establishment were once more revealed: late warnings before setting out for the target, cancellation of the mission at the last minute while on the move, contradictory and confusing intelligence about what is held and what is free, and above all, prices that are sky-high, as befitting an air show. By now it's clear why an emergency supplement to the defense budget was necessary, and why the reasons for the addition were a highly encrypted secret. Now it is also clear why this week, of all weeks, members of the ministerial ethics committee had to be urgently replaced.

Oh, sacred pretense of innocence: People who are in over their heads with the burden of the state and its sorrows on their shoulders as they enter the aerial suite. What do people expect of them, in their situation - to comparison-shop? How is Ehud, who only yesterday left the kibbutz and the commando unit, supposed to know? How is Nili, who just yesterday was born into the great big world, supposed to know?

Not only do Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his wife, Nili Priel, have a veil over their eyes; their comrades in the social-democratic party and their personal friends were also dazzled to blindness. This blindness is the country's plague. Saramago could have written a book about it.

That is how a previous prime minister conducted himself for years - from country to country by double-billing, from one luxury hotel to another, from the crown prince suite to the royal suite. But people averted their eyes. Only recently did we open our eyes, as if to a sudden revelation.

That is how the present prime minister conducted himself two and a half years ago, in wartime, and thus also a former Knesset speaker, who comports herself like the proverbial princess and the pea.

One night of bliss at a cost of NIS 14,000 should, therefore, come as no surprise. That is the norm. We have already seen what interests our leaders: money and everything it can buy. They saw to the needs of their own household - did they ever - when they left politics for a moment. And now the detox program is agony.

We made a quick calculation, we divided the above sum into eight hours per night of the sleep of the just, and two more hours of a refreshing afternoon nap - a total of 10 hours. That comes to NIS 1,400 an hour, and the meter is still ticking. Was Paris not burning? Did the fine silk sheets not burn beneath them? Did the king not toss and turn?

Yesterday the International Herald Tribune published an interview with Vaclav Havel, who started the Velvet Revolution and liberated his country from subjugation. He, too, perceives greed in his successors. He interprets it as a response to 40 years of Communist repression. Who repressed our Barak and Netanyahu, Olmert and Itzik. Who knows? Maybe they had a difficult, Spartan, childhood, for the privations of which we are now flooding them with money.