Analysis: I'm not talking about politics, but...

bibi 88 (photo credit: )
bibi 88
(photo credit: )
All eyes are on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon right now, but he is not the only Israeli politician who is suffering from "intracranial pressure." Sharon is being kept asleep and pain-free by anesthesia. But the other politicians are going out of their minds. Ever since Sharon suffered his second stroke on Wednesday night, politicians from across the political spectrum have made a point of saying that they are not engaging in any politicking while Sharon's fate remains undecided. They are afraid of losing the support and the respect of a public that hates politicians who try to make political capital out of times of national crisis. But behind the scenes, the politics never stopped for a minute, and no Knesset member has forgotten about the March 28 election. It seems like half the MKs have come on television since Wednesday night to talk about how they are not talking about politics - and to allow the voters to see their smiling faces and remember that they exist. There is an old joke about a religious Jew selling a car. When a man came up to him in the synagogue on Saturday morning and asked him how much he wanted for it, he replied, "It is forbidden to discuss it on Shabbat, but 5,000." Later on in the day, the man asked him if it were not forbidden to discuss such things on Shabbat, would he sell it to him for 4,000. The man replied, "It is forbidden to discuss it on Shabbat, but I sold it an hour ago for 4,500." Shimon Peres was that Jew on Sunday. He started off the day by vehemently denying reports in the press that he was insisting on a guarantee that he will be made foreign minister before endorsing Acting Prime Minister and Kadima chairman Ehud Olmert. He insisted that he was not dealing with politics. "It's not me dealing with politics - it's the press that is dealing with politics and they are always pushing me," Peres said. "You can't push me into politics and then blame me for it." But meanwhile, Peres went from studio to studio to extol the virtues of Olmert. He did his best to avoid talking about his political future on Sky News and the BBC. But by the time he reached CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, he could no longer withstand the intracranial pressure. Peres admitted that he intended to run with Kadima and that Olmert would be the party's leader. He even told Blitzer he no longer wanted to be prime minister. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu has done a better job of staying apolitical. He knows that anything political he would say would remind the public of Sharon's accusations that Netanyahu was a political underminer, so he has been extra careful. Perhaps even too careful. He deflected Blitzer's questions on the same program about politics. But he might have gone too far in praising Sharon. "I think Sharon has been a great leader," Netanyahu told Blitzer. "You can agree with him or disagree with him, but you cannot - you cannot - it's impossible not to appreciate it and respect his leadership. He's a great leader." Kadima's strategists are not engaging in politics right now. But they have saved the tape.