Incredibly, some pretty consequential things happened while Israel's left-leaning media rocked and rolled to Prof. Hillel Weiss's discordant and tasteless tunes. The compelling diversion, amplified so assiduously, diminished all else - even revelations that funds Israel irrationally remitted to the PA were transferred from Fatah's "good terrorists" in Ramallah to Hamas's "bad terrorists" in Gaza.
Surely officialdom's folly cannot rival the riveting professor. Never known as prudently diplomatic, Weiss let loose a cacophony of curses when approached by a Ynet reporter after his daughter, son-in-law and six grandkids were forcibly evicted from their Hebron home. Weiss resorted to vocabulary that wouldn't be countenanced by the overwhelming majority of those who deeply deplore the expulsion of Jews only because of their Jewishness from indisputably Jewish property. The fact that said holdings were wrested from a veteran Jewish community by means of unprovoked mass-slaughter, sadism and rape 78 years ago doesn't confer title-deeds on the perpetrators' equally genocidal offspring.
The reporter who approached Weiss was no babe in journalism's woods. It's no secret to anyone in the trade that if you're after cutting comments, Weiss is your interviewee. It's no different from seeking out the wildest-eyed most bizarre-looking settler/self-certified rabbi/self-proclaimed messiah to represent the National Camp collectively for credulous news-consumers. The more outlandish the remarks and the more oddball the delivery, the easier to tar an entire serious school of thought and caricature it as lunatic.
It's an old ruse but it works only one way. The late Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz is still revered as the Left's towering mentor - not despite his penchant for characterizing Israeli soldiers as Judeo-Nazis, but precisely because of it.
Hebrew University Prof. Moshe Zimmerman likened Jewish youngsters in Hebron to Hitlerjugend, crack Israeli commando units to the Waffen SS, Israeli soccer enthusiasts to Third Reich crowds and even the Bible to Mein Kampf.
Former OC Military Intelligence and Ben-Gurion University president Shlomo Gazit equated the crocheted skullcap to Nazi insignia.
Israel's effusively liberal academic institutions pride themselves on tolerating free speech, no matter how repulsive. The exception is Bar-Ilan University, Weiss's employer. BIU fired preeminent military historian Dr. Uri Milshtein because he dared criticize Yitzhak Rabin's War of Independence record and even publish (pre-assassination) an in-your-face book about it.
THE TEACHING tenures of those who portray renascent Jewish sovereignty as racist are safeguarded. Only the most vehement post-Zionist excesses are indulged. Different strokes for different universities and different professors.
But this isn't exclusively academia's affliction. Israel's chronically amnesiac citizenry managed to totally overlook Lt.-Cmdr. Niso Shaham's recent promotion to the post of Jerusalem District deputy police chief. For those who may have forgotten (not unexpectedly, because tendentious scribblers and broadcasters hardly harped on the issue), here's a brief reminder. During the pre-disengagement mass rally in Kfar Maimon, then-Negev District commander Shaham affected his most macho pose for the TV crew that filmed him, well aware that the orders he barked to several young subordinates would be widely broadcast. That suited him perfectly - televised exposure might impress the Sharon family of his limitless loyalty to their cause. A hefty professional advancement seemed in the bag.
And so hectored Niso for all to hear: "I want arrests and I tell you to use water-cannons unconditionally. Don't call me. Go for the water-cannons. Shit upon them," - the protesters. "They should burn. Don't reassess - use water-cannons and clubs. Hit them hard on the lower parts of the body. Work as you know how. I'm an expert in handling these haredim."
Niso went on to boast before the entire watching nation that he's braver than his own superiors, who advised him not to charge into Kfar Maimon. Niso's reply: "I'm not some whore who opens her legs and waits for someone to come in. You can bank on my ability to open their [the demonstrators'] legs. I'll f**k their mother's mother. Now go tell your buddies... not just a few beatings. I'm telling you all this to spare you the need to seek authorization."
Later, under pressure and to avoid greater repercussions than a feeble reprimand, Niso issued a wan statement of regret, claiming he was overwrought. That - unsurprisingly - sufficed last month for a three-justice High Court panel to reject petitions against his new appointment. The petitioners wondered what the reaction would have been were Niso's expletives directed at Arabs rather than haredim.
But the court condemned the petitioners for "seeking to ostracize a valued police officer because of one slip of the tongue, for which he tendered apology."
Panel-member Justice Ayala Procaccia, incidentally, kept a 14-year-old girl incarcerated without formal charges for 40 days for participating in "an illegal assembly" pre-disengagement. She judged that the child needs "re-education."
So much for the fairly balanced scales of justice. Legal equity and press impartiality in this country being what they are, no wonder Niso's promotion failed to generate headlines or enrage the masses. What if Niso shouted his obscenities to fawningly gain attention and attendant favors? What if he ordered wholly unwarranted corporal punishments for folks he was sworn to protect?
Niso was a man wielding power, unlike those our opinion-molders relish targeting - such as Women in Green co-chair Nadia Matar. Her pre-disengagement sin was writing (not screaming on TV) to Disengagement Authority director Yonatan Bassi that his role resembles Judenrat acquiescence to Nazi expulsions of Jews, with the reservation that Judenrat collaborators were coerced. That earned her scathing censure and well-orchestrated odium. She beat moves to prosecute her for her letter, but lower court rulings were overturned on state appeal and she again faces trial.
Idealistic Nadia remains abhorred public enemy number-one. Vulgar Niso is the court-approved guardian of democracy and law.