It wasn't the Little Bighorn but Kfar Hamaccabiah, and the tomahawks plunged deep into living flesh were merely proverbial, but again the Indians won after two days of unrestrained hostilities. On the Little Big-Likud Central Committee battleground the Indians felt every bit as victorious as the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors who vanquished General Custer after two myth-making days in June 1876, near what they knew as Greasy Grass River.
To erase any misapprehension, latter-day Indians on Ramat Gan's wilds weren't Native Americans but were thus called in derisory denigration by their very own wily chieftain Omri Sharon, who tenaciously rallied every last Central Committee brave to the greasy cause against hated â€œrebelsâ€ led by Binyamin Netanyahu and Uzi Landau.
Omri deliberately packed Likud Central Committee rolls with those he disdainfully dubbed Indians. He counted on them as unthinking minions, dismissing them as intellectually inferior dark-skinned opportunists, out for whatever perks they could derive from their lucrative mercenary status.
Much was made at the time of Omri's low-esteem for his hirelings. But the â€œIndians,â€ fully realizing on which side their bread was buttered, refused to let go of their temporal advantage even for honor's sake.
In the interim, Omri's stock skyrocketed in the eyes of media hotshots who once viscerally reviled him. His father, white-haired Prime-Chief Arik, began to see from his elevated vantage point things that previously eluded him. As soon as his perception miraculously meshed precisely with that of Peace Now's opinion-molders, they ceased going after Arik's scalp. Their pursuit, however, wasn't halted quickly enough to spare Omri the sacrificial role of the old man's fall guy.
But though Omri faces trial on corruption charges, the press doesn't harp on the fact. Likewise it shies from reminding us who Omri's powerful lieutenants were in the recent fateful showdown. Summoning reinforcements was Shlomi Oz, whose initial appearance on the Likud reservation prompted heaps of scorn. Ex-con Oz's criminal record was exploited to malign the entire movement as a congregation of lowlifes.
But since Oz is affiliated with Omri, and Omri's progenitor experienced an epiphany, all was forgiven. The same goes for once-loathed Shimshon Deri.
Squaw-MKs Inbal Gavrieli and Ruhama Avraham were also reprieved overnight and shielded from earlier ridicule. It's whom you align with that matters.
Omri knows that. He cajoled, enticed and threatened his Indians, then attracted new members to the thriving tribe all generously rewarded with ministerial portfolios for which their backbencher status didn't qualify them. Others won deputy-ministerial sinecures or improved prospects.
TO BE fair, not everyone fell for Omri's line but they didn't want to cut the good life short, not even by four months, which is what advanced primaries would have meant. They thereby let Omri and his dad enjoy the best of all worlds. Leftist elites safeguard them solicitously because they made themselves the means to Peace Now's ends and its ends justify all means.
Meanwhile at the Indian encampment, the braves don't want to be bothered about the ends for which a Likud government was to be the means. For them the means have become the end. They benefit nicely while the Likud rules, never mind in the name of what.
And so, inspired by their own petty welfare, Omri's Indians went on the warpath. They overcame the ragtag Revisionist remnants, a.k.a. Herutniks, whose ranks boast incurable altruists like Landau and Michael Ratzon. Both actually relinquished cozy positions for ideology's sake something Omri's Indians would never countenance.
Omri didn't ever pretend any affinity for old-style Herutniks. His father, however, joined them as a fallback option, after the Liberals (his initial choice) ejected him for his ruffian bullying, intimidating and domineering ways (whereby he claims to have merged Likud components). He subsequently fielded his Shlomzion ticket with a platform he plagiarized word-for-word from the Free Center (so Center founder the late Shmuel Tamir repeatedly told me).
Shlomzion proved an electoral flop. After the 1977 political upheaval which, contrary to Arik's intimations, he didn't engineer he returned to the Likud, this time via Herut, which he soon began to dismantle. He undermined Menachem Begin by deceiving him about his Lebanese adventure. Later, in â€œConstrictionistâ€ mode, he undermined Yitzhak Shamir by questioning his patriotic credentials, silencing his microphone (sounds familiar?) and shouting him down with another mike.
Sharon's destruction of Herut from within coincided with what the Left simultaneously wrought outside. Love of the land, pioneering, activism and daring once hallmarks of such Labor greats as Berl Katznelson, Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Tabenkin, Yisrael Galili and Golda were disparaged post-1977 as Rightist predilections only. Later they were to be further relegated to non-Ashkenazis or the religious. A young, secular, Ashkenazi socialist today is hardly likely to adhere to Yigal Allon's legacy.
And so Eretz Yisrael patriots (pardon the word) were increasingly marginalized by Arik from one direction and yesteryear's center-Left from another. It's hard to remain a Zionist in the classic sense. Arik's sidekick Silvan Shalom can mobilize more braves than Ze'ev Jabotinsky, with whose grandfather's heritage Johnny-come-lately Indians are unfamiliar and in which they are anyway uninterested.
In this cynical battlefield, Omri's chances of beating the rap are superior to those of the Little Bighorn's victor, Crazy Horse, who met his end behind bars one year after his triumph. Sitting Bull, Greasy Grass's spiritual elder-leader whose vision precipitated the battle, ended up as a joke in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show like Arik might in Shimon Peres's New Middle East Circus.
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