Defense Minister Ehud Barak has announced that he is against the phenomenon of draft dodging. The news sunk like a heavy stone on a surprised public. Who would believe that Barak, of all people, the IDF’s most decorated soldier, a former prime minister and the current defense minister would oppose the so-called refuseniks?
He didn’t even say he was moderately against them but that he is really, truly, against them and that was even before the quarterfinals of ‘A Star is Born.’ The professional ‘spinologists’ hung their heads in despair. Again Barak shows his ignorance of politics. “In the next elections,” one of them told a stunned press, “he is going to pay the price. You’ll see how he will sit and wait for the votes of the navy and the refuseniks.”
On the other side of the street, at Matzudat Ze'ev (Likud Headquarters) clouds of worry began to gather. Likud opposition leader Benyamin Netanyahu closed himself in his office for long hours with only wife Sara and his close advisors.
“He condemns draft-dodgers,” said one of the few brave men in the room, “and you know what? It's been two weeks already and you haven’t slammed anyone. We have our primaries soon and you need to be against something.”
Another hour of strained silence elapsed and suddenly one of the younger group members jumped up.
“I have it,” he yelled. “The Iranians! You condemn the Iranians.” For a moment, the silence returned. “Too negative,” complained the advertising agency expert. “If you are anti-Iran you need to be pro-something.” Everyone sank deeper into his or her chairs but Sara then asked for the permission to speak. “I don’t want to interfere,” she said like she does every time she interferes, “but what about the Holocaust survivors? Don’t you support their cause?
Tempers flared, angry exchanges were heard and, for a moment, the bodyguards were on their toes. Netanyahu pounded the table in his well-known defiance and silenced everyone. “That’s it,” he decided, “from now on we are anti-Iran and pro-Holocaust survivors.”
The news spread like wildfire across the Internet and on the radio. Waves of shock and incredulity. “He’s gone overboard,” commented most of the political pundits.
“The Iranians, okay but why does a politician in the midst of an election campaign have to be so decisively in favor of the Holocaust survivors? I mean, what does he stand to gain?”
But this time, Netanyahu insisted on proving that he has overcome his well-known tendency to panic. “I don’t care,” he said, “I support the Holocaust survivors and that’s final. Whoever has a problem with it can take a hike.” On his very articulate Internet blog he even wrote that he doesn’t just support them, he even thinks they are entitled to assistance.
The responses didn’t stop coming. A poll conducted at the end of that week predicted 31 mandates for his party, an increase of 2.4 percent. Then something happened to him that always happens to him. During an interview with TV Channel 10’s Moty Kirschenbaum (Yaron was in London) he got carried away with himself and added, “Along with the survivors' issue, I also favor a compassionate policy towards the poor.”
'No speak Hebrew'
You could hear the cork pop on the bottle of champagne opened in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “I told you,” declared Olmert in front of anyone willing to listen. “I told you that he would bury himself in the end. That’s Bibi. I know him like the back of my own hand. He always screws up in the end.”
Olmert’s media advisors hustled to release an official statement condemning the opposition leader’s statement. But Olmert again proved he is the savviest political fox of them all. “Don’t say a word,” he commanded. “Silvan (Shalom) will do the work for us.”
It took less than 40 minutes to realize he was right again. Silvan Shalom’s measured response to the media was a masterpiece of deviousness and wit. “I don’t want to comment at this time regarding Mr. Netanyahu’s irresponsible remarks,” he said. “However I wish to remind the public that I have been a lone voice in the desert for a long time demanding that we help the residents of Sderot.”
According to the plan, (orchestrated ahead of time according to certain wicked commentators) three minutes later the prime minister walked past the reporters waiting outside his door. As he climbed the stairs, he smiled and nodded and smiled again. The next day, his senior media advisor, Yanki Galanti, threatened to resign. He had insisted on the nod-smile-nod reaction which would have had a totally different impact.
But the snowball was already in motion. Barak was forced to return to the arena and say that he remembered that he too supports the residents of Sderot. And contrary to the advice of his media advisor Eyal Arad, Barak even went on the record saying that he “wants to see the abducted IDF soldiers brought home safely.”
A young reporter from Army Radio tried to jump in with a question about his position on the Winogad Committee which is investigating the government’s conduct during the Second War in Lebanon, and negotiations with Syria. However the defense minister wasn’t born yesterday.
“I am extremely in favor,” he said. The rookie reporter from Army Radio tried to ask him in favor of what exactly but at that moment he got orders to report for duty to the Golan Heights and hasn’t been heard from since.
A real avalanche followed this sorry development. Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni announced without taking anyone else into account that she supports the preserving of Israel’s security interests. Yuli Tamir endangered her political future when she declared that the time has come to invest in education. Even Ariel Attias, the usually cool-headed communications minister from Shas, was affected by the frenzied atmosphere calling for every woman and girl to light candles on Shabbat.
The public totally lost its sanity and stormed the government compound in Jerusalem, erupting into an unrelenting bout of crying. “Say something,” it beseeched the security guard. “Anything, one original sentence, something you mean, a plan we haven’t heard 1,000 times, it doesn’t matter what, as long as its new.”
The security guard peered at them with a thoughtful look on his face. “No speak Hebrew,” he said at last. “She is very sorry.”
It was too little and too late. He was chosen to lead the new immigrant party and top political strategist Moty Morel has begun working on his campaign. They say he’ll get 15 seats in the next Knesset.