Israel's Famous Talent for Shooting Ourselves in the Foot

Yoel Marcus
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Yoel Marcus

1. FC Barcelona's visit to Israel, starring Leo Messi, became a media farce. With childish enthusiasm, the president kicked a ball towards Messi and was as gleeful as a child when the Argentine star kept it in play. Netanyahu showed up wearing the national team's uniform, together with his wife, who sported a blue sports shirt, neither of them exactly dressing to advantage.

The camera caught a bald child, suffering from cancer, who was forgotten at the side of the pitch after being promised that Messi would shake his hand. Only the interference of Sara saved a scandal, and Messi, tired and yawning, made the boy's day. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Sara does not only interfere in official appointments, she also has a heart of gold.

In any case, this event, too, reflected the Israeli talent for shooting ourselves in the foot. Since there were children from the Palestinian Authority at Bloomfield Stadium, it seemed natural that the Palestinian national anthem would be played, as well as Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem. But since this provoked strong opposition, it was eventually decided that neither anthem would be played. When Education Minister Shay Piron heard about it, he announced that he was considering withdrawing the funding his ministry promised the event. In the end, the only local anthem to have been played at a Barcelona event was the Palestinian national anthem, when the team visited Ramallah. As my master sergeant used to say, you can't buy brains at the pharmacy.

2. Many of those who read Ben Caspit's book on Ehud Barak thought its title should be changed from “Evasive: Ehud Barak, the Real Story,” to something like "Ehud Barak, the Deleted Story," because our wunderkind, the most decorated soldier in the IDF's history who was said to have the highest I.Q. in the army, the country and the universe, has this strange tendency to delete documents relating to the more complex parts of his career. We won't repeat all that was published, but it does seem intriguing that in the investigation of the Harpaz affair, which is understood only by criminologists, it turned out that all the recordings in the defense minister’s office that touched on the matter were deleted, while all the recordings in the office of the chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, remained intact.

Strange, isn't it? Both men, the defense minister and the chief of staff, had offices in the same modern building with the same recording equipment supplied by the same company. How on earth is it possible that in one part of the building all the recordings were deleted and on the other not? Similar cases of deleted documentation were known to happen in connection with the disastrous Tze'elim training accident, for which Barak evaded responsibility. Haim Ramon once recalled that when he replaced Barak as interior minister, all the documents also mysteriously disappeared. Did anyone have anything to hide? Why are we discussing the Ashkenazi affair and not the Barak affair?

P.S.: Good news or bad, depends for whom: The police officer who investigated the Lieberman corruption affair was appointed to investigate the Ashkenazi affair. Don't hold your breath; according to the Lieberman precedent, Ashkenazi might celebrate his 80th birthday before the investigation is completed.

3. One morning I awoke in cold sweat. I dreamed I was offered the job of governor of the Bank of Israel. My life passed before my eyes. Did I ever smuggle a bottle of perfume past customs? Did I ever kiss a woman against her will, as macho actor Clark Gable did in all his films? As the dream went on, I found out I was about to be questioned in the U.S. Congress, and I calmed down, because their method of appointments is much more humane: Before anything else, the FBI secretly investigates my past, while Congress examines only my qualifications, and not whether I'm a thief, rapist or someone who consults astrologers.

4. Moshe Nissim, a member of the Turkel Committee, wondered out loud whether the panel is supposed to ask an economics professor if he ever sexually harassed women. The fact is that for years now we are aware of a "women's patrol” whose members are only too glad to settle accounts over cases that occurred eons ago. It is absolutely necessary to formulate legislation that would determine unequivocally that whoever didn't lodge a complaint in real time, or close to it, against any candidate for public office, will not be able to do so years later.