Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Winter Day

Browsing through my last posts one could get the totally wrong impression that I don't like Israel all that much. Well, here is a short one from a totally different perspective.

This afternoon I had a meeting in Herzelia Pituach, a trendy HiTech center on the Mediterranean coast, a bit north of Tel Aviv. Before the meeting I had lunch in the Herzelia Marina, sitting in the sun - 23 deg C in the middle of February, people! - and watching the yachts. After the meeting I went down to the beach, bought a beer, dropped into the sand and watched the sun set. Two hours like that and a lot of the daily hassle just dissolves into background noise.

Could have been a worse day.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ever feel really, really sick?

Omri Sharon was sentenced yesterday to 9 months in prison and fined 300,000 Shekel for his central role in raising and hiding illegal campaign contributions in the 99 Likud primaries. Nobody expected a serious sentence, and the shockwave went through all layers of society. Serious is relative here though, since the maximum sentence is 5 years, but hey - it's a beginning.

Anyway, all afternoon I had to listen on the radio to Omri's fellow politicians whining about the severe sentence, about the judge overstepping her mandate, about the heartless legal system not taking into account the tragedy surrounding the Sharon family, bla, bla, bla. What a load of bullshit. Not one had the guts and/or the character to say "he got what he deserves for doing what he did". Not one.

Not that Omri's crimes were in any way unusual for the political establishment. To take just the latest examples, Naomi Blumenthal (Likud) was convicted of bribery during the 2002 Likud primaries (remember the political joke?) and Tzachi Hanegbi (now Kadima) is under investigation for having filled up the ranks of the Ministry of the Environment with all kind of cronies during his term as (Likud) minister. And every year the State Comptroller's report is full with stories like these, conveniently ignored by most.

The real scandal is however that not a single soul in the Likud or Kadima is even suggesting that those dubious characters should not run for the Knesset, be expelled from the party, or whatever self-cleaning measures one might think of.

That is the message: No matter how much shit you have on your hands, as long as you are buddies with Bibi Netanyahu (Likud), Ehud Olmert (ex-Likud, now Kadima) or the Shas Torah Sages (kind of the Shas central committee), you are going to be okay.

I had enough. I think I will vote for Meretz. They are hopeless dreamers, but at least nobody there can be seriously corrupt, as they never had the power to do anything for anybody. No power, no corruption. And dreams are a rare resource these days.

Reminds me of a lawyer joke, which I will modify a little bit:
Q: "How do you call a hundred Likud central committee members chained together on the bottom of the ocean?"
A: "A good beginning."

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Banana Republic, Part II

Couple of days ago I picked up the "flag joke", and then I saw the Haaretz article (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/679578.html) - see for yourself. Reality can get pretty wierd our here.

Well, we have a nice little winter storm outside, electricity in parts of the country is down and it will take several hours to get fixed. Ample of time off work to get a few words out on the state of the affairs.

The election is approaching and with it the same old question: Shall I vote for the party that can maybe fix the trouble with the Palestinians (Kadima), or shall I punish my only possible choice for selecting Ehud Olmert as replacement of Ariel Sharon? Olmert is politically correct (literal meaning) in the sense that he will continue the path of unilateral separation from the Palestinians, which is the only way forward (hence "Kadima") feasible at this time, and with the emergence of a Hamas-controlled PA this time will last at least another 5-10 years. But Olmert also continues in the path of shameless mingling with criminals and is suspected to be even more corrupt than his precessor. Having much less of a track record to lean back on, Olmert can not afford to be arrogant about this. He was criticized twice by the attorney general for connections with and intervening on behalf of the Gavrieli clan, a known organized crime family, a fact which he bluntly denied two days ago in a TV interview - lying into the public's face about an established fact, how stupid can one get? This blunter cost Kadima 2 seats in the polls and it is going to get worse as more and more dirt is uncovered about Ehud Olmert, a man without a Teflon layer, unlike Ariel Sharon. Arik will be remembered as the man who founded a new centrist main stream to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Olmert as the man who sank it.

A few more words about the Gavrieli clan. Long suspected to be in the illegal gambling business, a number of family members were finally arrested this week (see link in the head line). The really disgusting thing about this is that the family is very well connected to the Likud leadership (see "A Political Joke" in http://madinisrael.blogspot.com/2005_07_01_madinisrael_archive.html) and thus even managed to send their daughter into the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament). Of course Inbal had no problem to use her immunity in order to protect her parents' home from a police search related to the gambling investigation. Abusing their immunity to cover up dirty business has become a common theme among political thugs and low lives in the current Knesset. The really disturbing thing about all of this is that not a single Israeli public servant has resigned from his or her job for being associated with corruption scandals, connections to organized crime or other severe misconduct. I can not think of a single western democracy with so low standards of responsibility and honor among the political elite. Israel, the Banana Republic. Sad, very, very sad.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Interesting Times

Well, at least we can not say that things are boring around us. Since I last wrote basically everything has changed. Sharon is out of the game, which is too bad, the peace loving Scandinavians are getting whacked by Muslims all over the place, and even the weather is going nuts - Kibbutz Eilot (near Eilat), where I just spent a couple of nice days, is now covered with 40 cm of mud after the heaviest rain falls since 1956 or so. Gee, cool stuff, but I am a bit busy right now with other things, so for today only a nice joke I picked up today:

Arab shopper in the store: "I'd like a Danish, a Norwegian and a German flag, please."
Shop keeper: "No problem, I just got a load of really nice ones. Shall I pack them as a present?".
Shopper: "Oh, no thank you, too kind. But I think I'll burn them on the spot!"

You've got to love them...