(photo credit: AP [file])
As the great Gilbert and Sullivan wrote in a lyric in their immortal operetta The Mikado, "all who flirted, leered or winked (unless connubially linked) should forthwith be beheaded."
Our contemporary Mikados have decreed that beheading is too good a fate for a man in high office. Instead the media, with a little judicious prompting, have subjected the president, our president, to a six-month ordeal, not Trial by Jury, another G&S opera, but trial by rumor.
In fact, if our system called for the president to be tried in front of a jury of his peers, "12 good men (and/or women) and true," the case would have to be dismissed as the press have already prejudged and prejudiced it, even pronouncing on the length of expected time the president can expect to be imprisoned.
Contrary to the generally approved idea that a man is innocent until found guilty, the president has already been tried and condemned.
A neighbor assured me that "everybody knew what was going on." When I challenged him to tell me who "everybody" could be, he blustered, "Well, everybody - it says so in the papers."
And indeed it does seem that, suddenly, in retrospect, everybody did know something was going on. Shimon Peres says he knew as far back as the year 2000. But then the patrician Peres was defeated for the position of president by Moshe Katzav, a man of the people, in a closed ballot, which seems to indicate that the majority of the Knesset, were not in on any dirty little secrets of Katzav's past. A majority considered him the best man for the position, a position he filled admirably.
Peres is once again on the campaign trail to become president, but only if the Knesset vote is an open one - leading one to suspect that those MKs who have the temerity not to vote for him may find themselves on that Mikado's little list. Of course, should the president be found guilty, then Peres himself would have committed a crime by withholding information.
THE PRIME minister, Ehud Olmert, himself under police investigation and also due to appear before the Winograd Committee to answer questions about his recent handling or mishandling of last summer's war, has the hutzpa to call for the president's resignation.
In a move reminiscent of the good old Soviet days, when members of the politburo who found themselves out of favor were airbrushed out of official photographs, the education minister, Yuli Tamir, is publicly pondering if the official portrait of the president should be removed from school walls. As they say in show biz, "Everybody's trying to get in on the act."
In July, 2006, the president had a private consultation with the attorney-general because (he said) he was being threatened with blackmail. Immediately this was leaked to the press. No investigation has been launched into who leaked this private information or, more importantly, why this sensitive matter has become, due to that initial leak, the subject of speculation and condemnation by those who consider themselves our elected or in many cases non-elected betters. All of them seem to have remarkably saintly morals and skeleton-free closets.
The president, who until that time had performed his duties with rectitude and been remarkably reticent, actually voiced some criticism of government policies. Not that one would dare to imply this had anything to do with the sudden surfacing of scandals.
So what is it that everybody - that is, you, me and the taxi driver, knows? We know that a man who went to consult a legal professional had his right to confidentiality abused. We know that six long, and for the president, horrific months have dragged on while the police and the attorney-general have dredged for evidence, which if the case is as clear-cut as all that, should have been resolved long ago. We know that a heretofore relatively unknown lawyer has become a media star. In fact all that we, the public, really know boils down to - "she says, he says."
I, for one, hope and believe the president will be completely cleared. And when he is, I hope that he will (if you'll pardon the expression) sue the pants off his accusers.
The writer lives in Jerusalem.
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