Six Comments on the Situation

Why is the fourth anniversary of the Al-Aqsa Intifada marked with the statistics of death and destruction when in reality the intifada broke out on December 9, 1987, following a truck accident in Gaza in which a few innocent bystanders were killed.

1. Not only is Effi Eitam a devotee of the concept of a greater Israel, he is also an exemplary citizen. On the eve of Yom Kippur, he took himself off to the Israel Broadcasting Authority's payments department to settle a debt of thousands of shekels for television license fees he hadn't paid for years. His aide, Avi Lerner, told Maariv, with obvious pride, that Eitam had indeed failed to pay the license fees for years. Therefore, he himself - not an angel, and not a messenger - went off to the payments department, "like any rank-and-file citizen," to settle the debt.

But this man, who sees himself as an almost Messianic-type leader, doesn't have the faintest idea of what a rank-and-file citizen is. Do you know a rank-and-file citizen who hasn't paid the television license fee for years? Does he have any idea what happens to a rank-and-file citizen who fails to pay his television license fee for just a single year? They force their way into his apartment, seize his television set, stop him on the road and confiscate his car until he pays up - and with lethal fines in addition. That's the way it is for the rank-and-file citizen, at least until the Messiah comes.

2. Channel 10 revealed that the kiss Limor Livnat gave to Gal Fridman cost our taxpayers $20,000. The cost of the plush suite in which she stayed was $1,000 a night. No, she wasn't in Athens for 20 days, but the hotel insisted the suite be taken for 20 days. She refused, but as the man in the street says, they put the squeeze on her. The Olympic Committee of Israel insisted that she represent the state "and left her with no alternative." The bitterness of her plight brings a lump to the throat of the local authority workers who have not been paid for months on end.

3. I don't think there is a single other country in the world in which, from morning to evening, so many ministers are prepared to be interviewed on any subject under the sun and by all the media, banging state secrets back and forth like they were ping pong balls. The worst comes with holiday interviews, especially those given by the top dogs. Sharon gave seven interviews over the holidays. The interviewers, some politely and others brashly, tried to extract a scoop, but Sharon wouldn't budge from a predetermined text that was basically empty of content. President Charles De Gaulle used to give two news conferences a year. Reporters were briefed on what to ask and De Gaulle, using a key he had been given, knew exactly who to take questions from. And then one day, there was a snag. The news conference ended and one of the questions hadn't been asked. After a minute of uncomfortable silence, De Gaulle said: "I think I heard a question that I haven't answered yet, and the following is my response." That was the day he described Israelis as "an elitist people, self-assured and domineering" - a few words that ended the special relationship between the two countries.

4. And here's a scoop from a hot source from the "after-the-holidays" department. Ehud Barak is set to soon announce the completion of his reserve duty period and his return to politics to vie for the leadership of the Labor Party.

5. A big shot's holiday is always problematic, even when there are no threats to his life. But this didn't stop Ezer Weizman and his wife from spending a few days in Kiryat Shmona during the days of the Katyusha rockets. The Sharon family took a brief holiday in the peaceful Golan Heights, visiting cattle farms and staying at country B&Bs. Wouldn't a night in Sderot have been the right thing to do? It would have been both a sign of solidarity with the charming bombed town, and would also have allowed them to get used to long-range Qassam rockets falling on Sycamore Ranch.

6. Why is the fourth anniversary of the Al-Aqsa Intifada marked with the statistics of death and destruction when in reality the intifada broke out on December 9, 1987, following a truck accident in Gaza in which a few innocent bystanders were killed. It was "a fatal accident" that ignited the longest war of attrition Israel has known. In December, it will enter its 18th year. It began with stones, stabbings, Molotov cocktails; and after a short break for the Gulf War and the Oslo agreement, it turned into a murderous guerrilla warfare.

During this time, the premiership has changed hands six times, and each prime minister has failed to eradicate the terror, while Arafat - a sick, trembling wimp - continues to survive and set the tone, even from the hole in which he finds himself. At the time, Lebanon was described as our Vietnam. The territories have now become Lebanon. Hezbollah and its devices are already here - it's only a matter of time before we see Katyushas, hand-held rockets, RPGs and mass terror attacks. The terror will only intensify if we don't pull out elegantly and in one fell swoop - as from Lebanon, after 18 years.

P.S. If you're in a hurry, recruit Tel Aviv Municipality's tow trucks.