Suddenly This Summer

With a rare fanaticism, our leaders are passing various laws in an attempt to speedily change the world order.

In Evelyn Waugh's novel "Brideshead Revisited" and the classic television serial based on it (which in Israel was called by the highfalutin name "Hemdat Yamim" - "The Beloved of Days") there are several supremely comical moments involving the narrator's father. He is an eccentric and misanthropic old man who isolates himself in the serenity of his home, and all he wants is to be left alone.

At the high point of a conversation, with artificial enthusiasm, he offers his interlocutor - and mainly his son - a regular piece of brilliant advice that solves everything: "Go abroad!" If that didn't help, at least he would get rid of another annoying person for a while.

Even if "abroad" is not what it used to be as a place of refuge and disappearance in today's era of communication, we still get the urge sometimes to send several of our public figures and politicians to a very distant place - or at least on a long and exotic vacation. This refers mainly to those who even during this onerous and difficult summer never rest.

With a rare fanaticism they are passing various laws and are speedily trying to change the world order, push through great reforms with hasty opportunism, split and steal political parties, distort democracy, change the names on the map of the country, change people's awareness, and document and store the identity of every one of us. And all in 80 percent humidity.

It may be that air conditioners are to blame for everything. Perhaps their widespread use and effectiveness has in effect eliminated what used to be called summer - at least when it comes to politics and the media.

Summer was that interval of fatigue and laziness that was characterized in the journalistic jargon of the time as cucumber season; the long, light, absentminded days during which everything ostensibly focused on racy feature stories, crime and entertainment (if we managed to restrain ourselves and avoid one of our summer wars).

In those days, television "seasons" evaporated in the damp mist in anticipation of cooler days; films, plays and new books were held back until the fall, as were political talk shows. And to paraphrase the ditty about mad dogs and Englishmen, who are the only ones to venture out in the midday sun, it seemed that here only the army, settlers and Palestinians didn't rest at the height of summer.

But no longer. Today, shut indoors in their air-conditioned bubbles - between home, the car, the Knesset and the television studios - party hacks, statesmen and shapers of public opinion experience summer almost as a rumor.

More energetic than ever, with a cool tailwind blowing from the air conditioner, politicians are dreaming up in one July week legislative ideas that even a bored Icelander shut indoors next to his heater couldn't invent all winter: the biometric database law, the law to encourage political desertion, "ad hominem" laws for job compensation and the release of hostages, laws to change the road signs, a law to censor the Internet, the "Nakba laws" and so on.

The stock exchange is rising in the coolness of the investment floors; real estate is producing nice fruits in the offices of agents and salesmen, where it is always autumn; the air-conditioned television studios are flooding the viewers - who are themselves air conditioned - with a peak season of dramas, documentaries and investigative films, as well as marathons of voluble and serious discussions.

Even in July and August. Even the flu, whose absence may have been summer's only perk, knows no bounds even during this season. Winter is not enough for it, and it is plotting and attacking even in the air-conditioned spaces of summer.

Like Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit. Like the Shas party. Like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

And perhaps it is the perpetual feverish activity of the latter - who sweats in the winter and knows no rest in the summer, who aspires to be prime minister even when he already is prime minister, who is always afraid for his seat - that is creating an atmosphere of chaos that affects the entire surroundings, producing perpetual noise and making a political siesta an impossibility.

Our prime minister should go on vacation, relax, enjoy himself at some summer oasis, like every normal world leader - though disorder, nerves and noise play a role in each of his forays and vacations as well.

No, apparently even in the most exotic "abroad" of the soul there will be no serenity for someone who, of the entire Jabotinsky legacy, has especially adopted the line from the Beitar anthem about how silence is contemptible. No rest for him, and none for us.