Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Significantly enough, today the Menachem Begin Heritage Center was dedicated, with our Prime Minister attending. Menachem Begin z"l ( 1913 - 1992 ) did get his share of sh*t from his political opponents on the Left, and I also neither did nor do recognize myself in many of his views. Still, you can say what you want about him, he was and remains the last great leader of Israel whose one and only motive was love for the Jewish state and for the people of Israel. He lived modestly - not unlike his great rival Ben Gurion - and his son and late grandson - his only two family members about whom the public really got to know something - built a career solely on their own merits, one as an academic and researcher ( and as a not very successful - because conscientious and honest? - politician, the other as an Airforce pilot and student(*). All Israeli leaders and statesmen after him have in one way or another been associated with or involved in somehow mixing their political activities with their personal interests or with those of institutes, a party or one or more persons to which/whom they were related. The basis for Israel's corruption scandals and grey-area politics was laid long before Menachem Begin finally became PM, but after him the country's political landscape has never been crystal clear again, and after this Sharon-Appel-Mazuz-Arbel business all hope of creating and enjoying a truly clean government in the Jewish state - the only interest of which is the interest of the state and the people of Israel - is gone. (*) A very good friend of mine met Jonathan Begin z"l when she was an officer in the army. She said he was very modest and always introduced himself as Jonathan or Joni, without mentioning or stressing his family name. Unfortunately he and his navigator died in an F16 air crash off the coast of Haifa in 2000. PS: Tonight on Channel 1 I heard an eminent jurist, professor Emanuel Gross of Haifa University - whose specialty I know ( from the years that I worked in the university library ) to be military law but who also knows a bit about evidence and criminal procedures - explain how even the simplest minds would not assume that Gilad Sharon received the enormous amounts of money that he received just for his skills or hard work. While there is a difference between what is questionable and what is criminal, and even though when it comes to criminal proceedings a high state official or his relatives should be treated exactly the same as any ordinary citizen, I still have some funny feeling that tells me that politicians ought to be clean of any suspicion of confusing or mixing personal and political interests, and that everything must be done to ensure that a prime minister can never get in a position where he could be suspected of making or influencing decisions that might further his personal financial interests. With PMs such as Barak, Sharon and Nethanyahu being millionaires themselves and/or having very close business or personal-political contacts with other millionnaires, Israel has just become more Italian than Italy, it seems.

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