While Our Leaders Fiddled (Extract)

Extract of article in Issue 6, July 7, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. A little bribery here and there, some sexual harassment, money passed under the table, over the transom, none of this is big news. A judge bribed, a drug company with professors at prestigious universities on the payroll, a building permit issued from a brother-in-law of the developer, customs officers who look the other way, ho hum, the real world is a dirty place. While pure souls are rumored to exist, not many folks have run into them. Not in America and not in Israel and not in the Arab countries, and not in the police forces of South America and very probably not even among the fish that swim in whatever sea still supports life forms. So shock is not the problem as we read about alleged pocket stuffing among Israeli elected officials and guardians of the public treasure. Yes, a little twinge of disappointment rises to hear that this or that public figure had his piggy nose in the trough. But the outrage hardly outlasts the declarations of innocence, the lawyers drawing up papers, the appeals, the witnesses who are themselves lacking even the ballyhooed honor among thieves. From front page news to a small paragraph at the back of the paper, the corrupt leave their jobs, occasionally go to jail, are replaced by someone else who collects the bribe until the next scandal. We, the public, ask ourselves: "How could they?" But we know how they could and we know that some of them will and we know that, just as sure as once there was a pregnant pope, there will be, in our life- time, some members of our governments who phony up their expense accounts, accept airline travel from lobbyists, and trample on our laws as long as they can. And then there are those countries in Africa whose moral sense was eroded by the centuries of pillage by smooth talking colonialists, whose rulers so often seem to have rubies in safety deposit boxes in distinguished banks on other continents, banks whose own presidents go to conferences on mountain tops and issue pronouncements on free trade, the evils of global warming and the failure to feed the hungry. Why is power so corrupting and money the ever successful temptress, the seductress of all nationalities, races, religions? Yes, no one likes to turn down an opportunity to be a little richer. Yes, it makes sense that money is the not only the root of all evil but also the fruit, and the fruit, one has to admit, is juicy. Religious morality is an uncertain levee when it comes to the flood of corruption. Secular morality is no better. Fear of punishment and exposure may deter a few timid thieves. But the numbers of otherwise intelligent people who believe that they themselves will never be caught is amazing. Perhaps the odds are with them. Red-handed thieves can wear gloves. So it is simply with sadness that we American Zionists have been reading about the scandals with this Israeli minister or that. We wanted a Jewish state to be better than that: normal, but not that normal. Extract of article in Issue 6, July 7, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.