They Sank Like Cast Lead

About three months ago I was approached by teacher, parent, student and neighborhood associations to head a party whose only raison d'etre is education. I have my doubts that a single-issue party is viable. We have had ephemeral, opportunistic parties in the past. But perhaps education deserves to have its own political force and needs it if there is to be any hope of resurrection.

I turned down the offer, for reasons that concern not only myself but all of you as well. I explained that in contradiction to all the preliminary forecasts the issue of education will once again be abandoned in the election. Not only will it not be at the center of public debate, it will not even be on its margins. The day is not far off, I said, when everyone will return to the security trope. So it has been and so it shall be, for as long as the country continues to whore after one Molech and give it its seed. And by the elections, I guessed, they would organize another little war for us here.

Only a few weeks ago politicians were still swearing allegiance to education: Bibi Netanyahu promised not to entrust the important portfolio to others; Ehud Barak considered gathering it to his bosom, even as prime minister; Tzipi Livni placed it in the forefront of Kadima's concerns; and Eli Yishai also had his eye on the job.

Whereas today, they are all "strong," they are all generals, and the fire of education that burned in their hearts has been weakened. Now they are preoccupied with educating and training the Palestinians.

Not only has the issue of education sunk like cast lead, corruption has drowned as well.

Were these elections not born of its sin? Was it not on account of corruption that the prime minister was forced to resign before his time? And now everyone is talking about security and no one is talking about morality. Who cares about that now?

So is it any wonder that parties allow themselves to conceal suspects and convicted felons among their ranks? And is it any wonder that someone with a closet full of skeletons will soon fill it with Knesset seats as well? The more investigations, the more seats. And if in terms of education Israel is a sub-Second World country, in terms of corruption it's already Third World.

Even small parties must change colors like a chameleon in distress and wear emergency-appropriate camouflage gear. And those who dare retain their original color - green, for example - become invisible. After Gaza, green went out of fashion.

Five days from now will already be "after the elections." We will be back in the thick of things, the fat envelopes and the children of cabinet ministers who open their doors to discover a hefty wad of cash on the doormat.

And we will all be able to resume the pleasant routine of our lives: "Throw the bums out," we will shout at demonstrations. "Go home, polluters," we will shout at belching buses and smokestacks, and at the sight of sad rivers that have become cesspools. And we will declaim: "There is nothing more important to us than education, because there is nothing more important to us than our children."

But for now we must be patient, there's no choice. We must wait until the next election or the next war, because it's always either too early or too late.