Israel’s Elites Have the Sense of a Beached Whale

It’s hard to be appointed to a top position when you’ve got a dubious past. But this country’s would-be leaders don’t seem to realize that.

Kobi Niv
Kobi Niv
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Moshe Katsav during a press conference in 2007.
Moshe Katsav during a press conference in 2007.Credit: Limor Edrey / Archive
Kobi Niv
Kobi Niv

Why do whales commit suicide? What makes them, in large numbers, cast themselves onto a beach? They have no way to return to sea, so they die of dehydration in a matter of hours.

Many theories try to explain this phenomenon but fail. After all, why doesn’t some whale tell his friend swimming beside him: “Listen buddy, did you see how Benny and Regina went up on the sand and couldn’t come back? Those imbeciles are going to die, so let’s head back. Why should we be fools like that? Even humans can’t understand it.”

But no. The whole lot charges ahead to die, inexplicably.

And why, if we move from the whale metaphor to Israeli politics, do candidates for top positions — would-be presidents, central bank governors, police chiefs, military chiefs of staff and High Court justices — charge to the top of the hill even though they’re toting rotting skeletons? We’re talking secret safes, raped women, illegal construction and who knows what else.

And why are they charging to the top when they see that everyone with similar skeletons died on the hill? As for the whales, we could say in their defense that they have no radio or television. They have no way of knowing that their mates never made it back.

But what about all our skeleton-ridden candidates for top positions? Don’t they know how to read? Don’t they listen to the radio? Don’t they watch television?

Haven’t they heard about presidents Ezer Weizman and Moshe Katsav, would-be central bank governors Jacob Frenkel, Zvi Eckstein and Leo Leiderman, and would-be presidents Silvan Shalom, Meir Sheetrit and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer?

And what about Yoav Galant, a former candidate for Israel Defense Forces chief of staff? What about police chiefs Rafi Peled and Moshe Karadi, and Uri Bar-Lev, Niso Shaham, Bruno Stein and Yossi Pariente, who were candidates for that position? What about Yitzhak Cohen, a former candidate for the High Court? What about Haim Ramon, a former candidate for prime minister?

What explanation could there be? That they didn’t realize they had done something wrong? That they told themselves that, unlike their predecessors, it would never happen to them? Or maybe they said to themselves: “If he says one word about me, I’ll tell all about him.”

Re the whales, one explanation is that it’s voluntary suicide to end the suffering of the elderly, the exhausted or the ill. But some researchers dispute this theory because it assumes that sea mammals possess awareness.

Wait a second. Can we assume by the behavior of our candidates for top positions that human beings possess awareness? After all, whatever the reasons for the behavior of these candidates, who crash on the hill again and again, one thing is as obvious as a beached whale: Many Israelis in top positions are just fools. God are they fools.

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