The Three of Them Are So Much Alike

The sharp resemblance between the two Ehuds and Bibi has not gone unnoticed. They are connected by the same sturdy thread - the same lust for power, the same vices and weaknesses.

It is not clear what the mountain of suspicion built from the "police recommendation" will turn into. There is no certainty that the shameful list of bribery, corruption and money laundering can be proved, and the mountain might well shrink to a molehill. However, the accusations, if not moles, are at least mice or cockroaches, and when such rodents and insects slink out of the garbage and sewer pipes, they can undermine a household's health.

It is very doubtful whether Ehud Olmert is indeed a "serial felon," as some of his sworn enemies now call him. He may not even be a "great felon." It may turn out that he is a small-time bon vivant who forgot to close the door when his predecessor fell into a coma. So all the wheeler-dealers who cling to important people and feed on them like a tapeworm continued filing in and out and went about their business.

Olmert himself - how shall we put it - didn't hate expensive gifts. Yet he lived - contrary to the proverb "he that hates gifts shall live" - and quite well, like a king in Swaziland. But Israel is not Swaziland, not yet, so when he was randomly appointed prime minister and tried to lock the door in his benefactors' faces, it was too late.

He left tracks leading straight to his new bureau, and the police followed them there. Olmert as prime minister tried to flee from himself, but his past only caught up with him, faster and faster, until it overtook him. The loftier his position, the more resounding his fall.

Now he is going, never to return. Those marked as his heirs are no worse than him, but neither are they better. And that exactly is the problem. They are so alike, much more alike than they themselves or their followers are willing to admit.

There is a story going around Jerusalem about a dream Ehud O. awakened from as if from a nightmare. He dreamed he was looking at himself in the mirror and whom did he see, to his horror? Ehud B. The story has another version, that instead of Ehud B. he saw Benjamin Netanyahu. And some say it wasn't Ehud who dreamed at all but Bibi, and a debate is being waged about that.

The sharp resemblance between the three has not gone unnoticed. They are connected by the same sturdy thread - the same lust for power, the same buddies on the greasy path of trickery, the same vices and weaknesses. This link is easily explained - they all come from good families, they are all the salt of the earth. The parents of one hailed from the Beitar Revisionist Zionist movement, from a brave little community; the other, a scion of a pioneering movement, comes from a kibbutz. The third, belonging to a glorious Revisionist dynasty, was born in a Jerusalem neighborhood and inherited from his father a sense of rejection and deprivation.

The three have the same roots, planted in our own brooks and streams. They all received a good upbringing at home - albeit a little Spartan - to be modest in their ways, to make do without indulgence or luxury. From the time they grew up and entered life's marketplace, they adopted market laws to benefit themselves and their families. No more of that old-style austerity and rejection of the fleshpots; the sky was the limit and the whole world their home. Their very souls were weary of all that lifetime commitment and dedication to public-service stuff.

And so it happened that these three prime ministers, all second-generation natives of this country, these three, of all people, are compensating themselves for the deprivations of childhood. "Whatever we lacked then, we'll take now, and lots of it. We've contributed more than enough, we're talented, we deserve it." Every generation has its rebellion, and this is theirs.

But we deserve something, too. We deserve someone else, to have not only Olmerts and Baraks and Netanyahu look-alikes elected as prime minister, but someone different. Someone who will look in the mirror and see us. Perhaps it's too much to hope for a goldfish, but it's not too much to reject the small-fry creatures who feed in stagnant, moldy waters.