Opinion

Israel's New Ministers, Please, Just Don’t Try to Leave a Mark

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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The swearing in of Israel's new government, May 17,2020.
The swearing in of Israel's new government, May 17,2020.Credit: Adina Valman/Knesset spokespersons' office
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

We’ve been had, big-time. Deceived, betrayed, our votes stolen, our money dispersed. They went and established a 36-headed monster and made a laughingstock of the country. But we’ll show them. We’ll be waiting for them at the corner. The corner of David Hamelech and Ibn Gvirol, at Café Landwer and at the bakery, as soon as they open. We’ll write hard-hitting articles, we’ll fill social media with clever caricatures, we’ll dispel their stench by spraying graffiti on the walls – and we’ll wait quietly for the next election.

Meanwhile we’ll check when flights abroad will resume, we’ll prepare for the coming school year, we’ll negotiate with the bank about spreading out debt payments, and will cluck our tongues. The ship of fools will keep on sailing to nowhere. On board, the prophets of the vision of the dry bones have already been resurrected. They see visions of national unity, a new Israeli identity, a historic rebuilding, social solidarity, equal rights, embracing of the outsider, a veritable Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World come true.

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Bibi swears in his colossal coalition and readies for a courtroom showdown Credit: Haaretz

The ones currently tasked with realizing this vision are a bunch of wax figures, some of which will be removed from the exhibition six months from now, while others will get a year and a half, maybe. Within this period they’ll have to learn about “the affairs of their ministries” and, above all, “to leave a mark.” How many roads will Miri Regev manage to pave before she starts jetting around as foreign minister? How many buildings will God’s representative, Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, build, and how many social miracles will cardboard cutout Orli Levi-Abekasis pull off?

Managers and functionaries, the ones who bear the burden of the Israeli bureaucracy, will find themselves with projects that are stuck in the middle, since the new ministers will surely have their own master plans. Citizens seeking aid won’t know if they need to apply to the Welfare Ministry or the Communal-Strengthening Ministry, or maybe to the Minister for Social Affairs? At which ministry will contractors have to get their projects approved? Will they have to go to the housing minister? The minister for the development of the Negev and the Galilee? The minister of finance? Or maybe the minister of national infrastructure, who is also the transportation minister?

And lest we forget, now we’ve also got a minister, David Amsalem, who is in charge of ties between the government and the Knesset. One has to wonder just what kind of ties he’ll have to create or unravel with this institution, which is already controlled by the executive branch. Too bad Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t think of creating the vital position of minister for ties between the government and the public. There really ought to be some kind of connection between this gang sitting on Devil’s Island and the flock it has abandoned to its fate.

We won’t begrudge the tens of millions that will be spent to finance the existence of three dozen ministers. After all, we’re not short of money. We saw how, in the blink of an eye, 80 billion shekels were found, as if it were Monopoly money, to aid those impacted by the virus crisis. Nor will we begrudge the armored sedans, the bodyguards, the bureaus, the refreshments, the trips abroad and all the other goodies. But there is no need for these people, who will have left office long before we manage to remember all their names and can match faces to ministries, to try to leave a mark. This is where the real danger lies.

We have yet to heal from the searing marks left by previous governments – racist laws, wasted budgets, the Meitzav and PISA examinations that revealed the sorry state of the education system, the collapse of hospitals, unaffordable housing, the corruption of the prime minister, the live fire directed at the justice system – to list just some of the most prominent traumas that “left a mark.”

Geniuses there are not in the new government, but even if there were, none of them could possibly, in just a few short months, repair the damage done by his predecessor. So please, don’t do anything. Think of your positions as “no-show jobs,” like on “The Sopranos.” You get a good salary and never have to show up for work. It will be cheaper and safer for us to pay for you to sit at home, rather than pay for the mark you want to leave. We’ll remember you either way.

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