If we thought that the Katsav affair was a one-time low point and if we hoped that Shimon Peres' term had restored the presidency's honor, the current presidential race came along and created low points which we never even imagined. Definitely not such low points which could be associated with those who see themselves as esteemed and worthy of the title "the No. 1 citizen of the State of Israel."
The new affair, the one which forced the Labor Party candidate to quit the race, appears to be just another arm of the corruption octopus being investigated these days by the Israel Police, and we are all very familiar with its key figures. If all this turns out to be true, it will be a new record in governmental filth.
Under the current circumstances, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer made the necessary move when he announced that he was ending his bid without waiting for the results of the investigation.
The disrespect we have seen here in the past few months towards the presidency is unbelievable. The current race has evoked an unbelievable sense of disgust. The Israeli public, which wakes up to a new scandal every morning, feels frustrated, ridiculed and even insulted.
Without harming the current suspect's presumption of innocence, we feel like shouting: We're sick of these corrupt people! It seems that these words were never as accurate as they are these days, when those who saw themselves as candidates are forced to quit the race one after the other over suspicions of criminal offenses, whether in the area of alleged sex crimes or in the area of morality.
Are there no politicians whose hands are clean? Is there such a small number of politicians whose nomination will not open a can of worms and generate a criminal investigation? And how is it that people who live in glass houses dare throw stones? Is it a moral cultural degeneration on their part, or perhaps a normative and ethical decline of the entire Israeli society, which breeds such candidates.
Otherwise, it's impossible to explain what has been going on here in the past few months, from the Silvan Shalom affair to the Fouad affair, and who knows what is still in store and what we are in for until Election Day on Tuesday. In other words, what other scandal involving one of the candidates will blow up in our face?
Nothing is over till it's over. And yet, it seems that now that Fouad has quit the race, the chances of Meir Sheetrit and Dalia Itzik to make it to the second round have increased, unless Rivlin surprisingly receives enough votes to get elected in the first round.
Rivlin's situation in the second round has actually worsened – if he would be running against Fouad, he would definitely receive Yair Lapid's votes, after the latter announced that his party would not support Fouad in any event because he failed to vote in favor of the IDF draft law.
If we had a normal parliament and more attractive external candidates, the public loathing may have had an influence. But the president's face reflects the face of the Knesset, and that is not good news.
And if it's the available candidates, perhaps the prime minister was right when he suggested – although not for these reasons – to cancel the presidency altogether. That may also be the reason why the Labor Party deliberated Saturday evening whether it should support Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein's initiative to postpone the elections by two weeks, in order to try to find a worthy alternative candidate its members would be able to unite around.
And yet, there is a bright side to what is going on now: Despite the sense of embarrassment and shame evoked by the process of electing the person who is about to represent the state's beautiful face, it's a good thing that this selection process is taking place before the elections. This appears to be the main lesson learned from the Katsav affair.