Perhaps back in their beclouded medieval origins - somewhere in India via China to Japan - the three wise monkeys, each concealing another sensory/communicative facial feature, were meant to convey moral commandments. Perhaps they enjoined humankind not to gaze at the unsuitable, lend an ear to the inappropriate or bad-mouth fellow creatures.
However, for us post-moderns the clever primate trio (inspired by masterfully carved archetypes above the entrance to the 17th-century stable of the Toshogu shrine in Nikko, Japan) no longer appears so cute or didactic.
In our jaded perception the threesome increasingly signifies the embodiment of rank hypocrisy. We behold monkeys - or pretentious mischievous poseurs unhindered by pangs of conscience - preferring to cover up their eyes, ears and mouth respectively so as to claim not to know the truth and avoid spilling the beans.
They've evolved into ultimate representations of the cheeky cover-up. Expediently feigning ignorance, they're unscrupulous devil-may-care accomplices to deception and trickery.
Moreover, they often get away with it. Just look at and listen to Ariel Sharon. He has now established yet another political overnight wonder to facilitate the evasion of discomfiting questions and to prop up the fallacy of not having noticed or heard anything untoward on his way to the premiership.
With no disrespect intended, he is one huge "see-no-evil, hear-no-evil and divulge-no-evil" monkey, encompassing all three generic types. His conceit is shamelessly cynical. He strives to pass himself off as one who quit the Likud because it became a mismanageable monkey-cage - disorderly, full of bedlam and illegitimate insubordination.
He's too good for that. He couldn't abide the tumult, discord and mayhem, and so departed in utter disgust, in quest of better company and higher standards.
He's clean, while his erstwhile comrades - screaming, restless and chaotic - are tainted and potentially contaminating. Their pesky monkey business isn't for him. He is the responsible sort, hence the initial "National Responsibility" moniker for his latest list.
This incumbent is onus-free.
SHARON COULD indubitably make monkeys of us, unless enough voters demand he put down his hands, cut the monkeyshines, reveal his face and start owning up in earnest to what he saw, heard and knew.
Had he stayed in the Likud he couldn't endlessly dodge cross-examination that might have jeopardized his hegemony and possibly put him in danger of facing trial. By hopping over the hurdle of embarrassing, exposing and endangering internal leadership challenges, Sharon contrived not to answer the following:
* Do you honestly expect the pesky citizenry to fall for the line that you saw nothing and heard nothing (and can therefore say nothing to the police) about the millions illicitly raised by your son Omri for your campaign?
Didn't you know about dubious loans-cum-contributions from abroad to underwrite the illegality? Were you unaware that your other son Gilad was paid NIS 20,000 a month to surf the Web, and was additionally promised millions in bonuses?
* If you were too busy to hear and see what was being done on your behalf, what's to assure us that we can now have faith in your vigilance vis-a-vis the affairs of state over which you had been questionably put in charge?
* If you were blind and deaf to Omri's offenses, from which you benefited and for which he was convicted, why don't you now righteously demand he resign his Knesset seat (you, after all, sacked deputy minister Nomi Blumenthal for mere suspicions in a comparatively diminutive case)?
* Did you perform your ideological about-face to curry the leftist media's and judicial establishment's favor in order to escape prosecution?
* If not, how was it that you campaigned vehemently against Amram Mitzna's mini-disengagement platform, won votes thereby, yet shortly thereafter implemented Mitzna's agenda and more?
* Why have you never explained what we are to accrue from disengagement?
* Why don't you openly inform us about your future projected territorial generosity and settlement destruction schemes?
* Why have you never disclosed the logic behind the Tennenbaum swap, the Philadelphi Route abandonment and the Rafah Crossing agreement?
* How could you ram a referendum down your party's reluctant throat and then ignore its results when they didn't suit you?
* Why did you fire ministers who dared disagree with the boss while rewarding upstart backbenchers with portfolios or deputy-ministerial sinecures (like Ruhama Avraham and Eli Aflalo, now leading luminaries in your new party)?
* Having bolted the Likud, how can you leave it with debts incurred to elect you and the shady opportunists rallying round your flag?
* Will you deploy the Trojan horses you recruited to Likud rolls and forums to skew upcoming Likud primaries?
* Last but hardly least - having betrayed all undertakings to your electorate previously, why should anyone trust your word now?
Even monkeys deserve accountability. Even despised Likudniks - on whom Sharon had cunningly and effectively set the media watchdogs - deserve more than an autocratic monkey-drill, in which they're expected to do exactly as instructed, with no deviation or hesitation.
If their rights can be blatantly violated while Sharon is rewarded for making monkeys out of those who wouldn't obediently follow his lead and who demanded he be forthright and uncover his eyes, ears and mouth, then Sharon can proceed with impudence and impunity to monkey around with all our minds - Likudniks, non-Likudniks and even implacable anti-Likudniks.
If "see-not, hear-not and speak-not" Sharon is allowed to get away with duplicitous antics now, we'll all be monkeys' uncles if we trust we can get his enormous monkey off our already-bent democratic back.