Truth, for a Change

You and we really do deserve a different kind of politics, and it will never be different if you continue in your corrupt habit of not saying what you really think, and not really thinking what you say.

This is a desperate call to politicians: Please, tell the truth. Try to forget all the meaningless pronouncements of the past, forget about the advice of the advisers and the pollsters, get over the paralyzing fear of "what will people say." Be brave and say what is in your heart for a change. For once, try to take a different path, a straight path, not the one you've gotten used to, not the one you've gotten us used to. What do you have to lose? In any case, none of you will sweep away the masses, and none of you appears to be the great hope. In any case, the public's attitude toward you moves from sick indifference to bottomless contempt, both of which bode ill for you, for the country and for its fragile democracy.

"Different politics"? This might be your last chance to save your professional dignity, which is, as you know, at a nadir. Now is the time to do so, on the eve of the hasty election campaign that has been forced on us, which it seems will not bring about one iota of the change we seek, a campaign lacking any real ideological debate, boring, tiresomely predictable. The time has come to try something you have never tried, to speak the truth: simple, clear, clean. Truth, if only for a moment. On the ruins of a government that fell because of suspicions of corruption, this call is doubly significant. The greatest corruption of them all, more than both the house on Cremieux Street and the Rishon Tours affair, is not telling us the truth.

You and we really do deserve a different kind of politics, and it will never be different if you continue in your corrupt habit of not saying what you really think, and not really thinking what you say.

Tzipi Livni, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Eli Yishai - this call is for you. None of you says what he or she thinks. Each of you speaks differently behind closed doors. The time has come to say the same thing in television studios, at parlor meetings, at rallys and to your closest associates. Sometimes you are guests in our newsrooms and sometimes our conversations are "off the record," "unattributed" and "not for publication." Here and there we find ourselves talking with you at social events: That is when we always, but always, see a different side of you, different from the familiar, external one. Why off the record? Why not report it? Why does there have to be a difference between what you whisper into someone's ear and your public "statements"? After all, your body language, political language and diplomatic language change the moment you enter the spotlight. There is not only quite a bit of hypocrisy in this, but also arrogance toward your voters.

The time finally has come for Livni to say clearly and unambiguously that she is ready to withdraw from the entire Golan Heights in exchange for full peace with Syria; for Barak to say he is prepared for a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders; for Netanyahu to say what his real alternative is to a two-state solution; and for Eli Yishai to explain why he believes the sanctity of the land outranks the sanctity of human life, contrary to the statements by his teacher and rabbi many years ago. Netanyahu, who grew up in the home of a great historian, should say whether he has ever read of a precedent where people fought for freedom and self-determination, and made do with "economic peace." Let those who are devoted to an undivided Jerusalem - almost everyone - say when they visited the Shuafat camp in the united capital and why they declare this camp is ours. Let them explain how they resolve the contradiction between maintaining a Jewish majority and annexing a quarter-million Palestinians.

They must also tell the truth on other matters. Let Yishai tell us if he really does want a state run by religious law, like Saudi Arabia and Iran - there are no other countries run by religious law - and if he really does want us all to study in yeshivas without working or showing any creativity. And what does Yishai really think about Ashkenazis, and what does Netanyahu think of the Arabs? And what is Livni's real attitude toward the settlers and what is Netanyahu's real attitude toward leftists? These are all questions that should have been asked already, in public debates or newspaper interviews, and for some reason they have not been.

How ironic: The last time a politician here told the truth was a recent interview with outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "We should withdraw from almost all of the territories, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights," the man said, speaking the truth for perhaps the first time in his political life, only when it was about to end. They only tell the truth when they are on the way out. As it is said: "Fear not the Pharisees and the non-Pharisees but the hypocrites who ape the Pharisees" (Talmud, Sotah 22b).