The Nicest Man in Politics

We have to talk about Ruby Rivlin, because he is not alone. Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Mickey Eitan are also enlightened nationalists who've somehow come to terms with an unenlightened reality.

We have to talk about Ruby, who talks to us from Jerusalem. That's Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin. We have to talk about him because two years from now he will be elected president of Israel and the Residence of the Presidents of Israel will become the Residence of the Presidents of the Land of Israel.

And a week from now, at the transition from the mourning of Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day to the festivities of Independence Day, he will ascend Mount Herzl and preach the sermon from the summit. As always, it will be characterized by a careful mix of rebuke and consolation. The dignitaries will go home satisfied and washed in the emotional preacher's tears, even though this time the ceremony is racially pure; not even a Druze was found anywhere in the country to light one of the traditional torches to the glory of the State of Israel.

We have to talk about Ruby, because he is the nicest man in Israeli politics, and on its right. He is not alone; there are a few more elected officials like him - nice, enlightened, cultured, pleasant, liberal, democratic and convivial. Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin, for example - he is also one of the nice ones. Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, a lovely lad; Mickey Eitan, minister for the improvement of government services, on condition the Likud central committee doesn't get back its power to elect and corrupt.

All of them are right-wing nationalists, and nevertheless each of them is a mensch, a likable person of integrity. What do they have in common with their fellow Likud Knesset faction members, the Yariv Levins, the Danny Danons and the Tzipi Hotovelys?

Let us not exaggerate: The difference between them is trivial; movement founder Vladimir Jabotinsky would have rejected them all. Here is Benny, the prince of the dynasty, petitioning the High Court of Justice over Migron and next week three more non-kosher settlements will be forced down the justices' throats.

And here's Dan, the little prince, who has accepted that it is his lot in life to purify vermin in 150 flavors. And Ruby himself, who is now promoting with youthful enthusiasm a proposal for a Basic Law on Legislation: It will take only 65 MKs to cut the High Court of Justice off at the pass. With pleasant, nice people like them, who needs right-wing commentator and author Irit Linur?

There are learned legal scholars who approve of this proposed law that will, they claim, strengthen "constitutional democracy." They will yet regret this argument. After all, it must be said to the credit of those who are legislating evil laws that they do not conceal their intention: to put the court in its place, to weaken it and not by any means to strengthen it.

And the Zeev Elkins - Elkin is yet another Likud MK - are saying they will not support the law in its second and third readings unless "significant changes," as they define them, are introduced, and it isn't hard to guess in which direction the wind of change is blowing.

And the government archivist is declaring that given a choice between the ruins of legal settlements and proper legislation, he prefers to demolish the court - and he is called an education minister.

This Knesset must not get involved in Basic Law because it is quite clear what will come out of it. And who if not the speaker knows the soul of this beast. "The Knesset is making a laughingstock of itself," he opined in an interview to Ma'ariv last week. "The public needs to tell the Knesset it is unworthy. I suggest to everyone: Elect worthy MKs." As though the choice were theirs and it wasn't in the hands of the parties, which choose their representatives in orgiastic primaries.

It is doubtful that any speaker of any parliament, anywhere, has ever painted those who answer to his gavel so vividly in black. This is the Knesset, these are most of its members and they are now trying take "the constitutional regime" into their hands.

So what do we decide about Ruby and the rest of the enlightened nice guys? After having understood long ago that there is no such thing as an enlightened occupation just as there is no such thing as a half-democracy, there is no enlightened person who can live in a reality that is not enlightened and come to terms with it in the long run.

There is no such human being but there is such an animal. This is the reality that transforms a lieutenant colonel into a brute and transforms a police officer into Bentzi Sau, the whisperer to sharpshooters in the bloody events of October 2000 who has since been promoted in rank. This week he heroically commanded the anti-granny operation at Ben-Gurion International Airport, exposing the Elsas and Ingas in their nakedness. And Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner will also be promoted soon, once the fuss dies down.

Because all of them are nice, all of them are doing holy work. Listen to dear, dear Ruby on Independence Day eve.

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