Corridors of Power: Welcome to the ga-ga-sphere

A few years ago Ohad Naharin, artistic directorof the Batsheva dance company, invented a new step: the ga-ga. "It'smore than a new dance language," explained his PR company. "It's a newway of expressing things way beyond dance or art in general. It takesyou from one familiar situation to a totally new world of sensationsand feelings. Once you've experienced ga-ga, you won't be the sameanymore."

SoI went to a performance to check it out. Not being familiar with thedance scene, I came out of the theater a completely different person: Adancer - a regular human being like you and me - was performing allkinds of movements that didn't adhere to the laws of physics. And whenit was over, there wasn't a part of my body that didn't ache from justwatching the formidable contortions and seemingly impossible movementsof the dance.

The ga-ga awareness hasn't yet reached Kikar Safra, but itseems that its spirit is there, or at least our city councillors havetheir own ways of making sure that nothing is the same anymore. Intheir case, the equivalent of the dance performance was simply... theelections. At least for some of them. By the way, the ga-ga syndromeseems to be typical behavior for politicians - their habit of suddenlymaking a radical change of position on essential matters. Or in otherwords, ga-ga has affected, in some cases, their supporting decisionsthey valiantly opposed under the previous mayor.

Take for example the issue of external legal consultation,specifically regarding the issue of illegal construction by Jews andArabs in east Jerusalem. Faithful readers of "Corridors" certainlyremember the incredible amount of tension and conflict when formermayor Uri Lupolianski tried to bypass city attorney Yossi Havilio andhire a private attorney in order to obtain more palatable legal advice.

Pandemonium was raised by opposition members, mostlyfrom Meretz and Shinui (of not-so-blessed memory), Nir Barkat's partyJerusalem Will Succeed and even the three rebels who split from hisparty. The city councillors took Lupolianski to court, forcing him topay legal costs out of his own pocket. Since those past heroic days,ga-ga has come into effect, and today the large coalition is united insupporting Barkat's decision to overlook Havilio's legal advice byhiring an outside private attorney, who writes legal decisions finelytuned to the mayor's position.

One of the results, and no less ironic, is that the haredi citycouncillors are the only ones who are consistent - they reject, as inthe past, Havilio's legal advice. My guess is that the representativesof Shas and United Torah Judaism probably do not practice ga-ga - orany dancing at all.

Aquick glimpse at the current situation gives us the following picture:On one side, we have Mayor Barkat, who has never concealed hiscommitment to a unified city and Jewish residents in Arabneighborhoods. In Barkat's party there is at least one member of theLabor Party, Hilik Bar, who has never uttered a word against AteretCohanim or Elad (two right-wing organizations that encourage Jews tobuy apartments in Arab neighborhoods). Meretz, a proud member of thecoalition, is torn between its leader Pepe Alalo, who is againstillegal construction by Jews, and its two other members, Meir Margalitand Laura Wharton, who are against the Jews who live in theseneighborhoods. But Margalit is in favor of the mayor's plan to give -in return for the abolition of the demolition order of one of theJewish residents' illegal constructions - a posteriori approval toillegal structures in Silwan belonging to Palestinians.

As in the previous coalition, the HabayitHayehudi members remain silent. They too have probably never heard ofthe wonders of ga-ga.

For Elisha Peleg, the one-man show representing the Likud atcity hall, things are even easier: He was not a member of the formercity council, and he is an avid supporter of the Jewish residentsanyway. He didn't need to practice ga-ga to support the mayor'sdecision, it's just that he doesn't support the mayor, since he accuseshim of not supporting the Jewish residents. Perhaps he should try somega-ga after all.

Lost in the ga-ga-sphere? You ain't seen nothing yet! Here itcomes: Veteran city council member Meir Turgeman, a.k.a. the soleopposition member, was one of Havilio's fiercest opponents. Today, heis his most vociferous supporter. Not because he is against the Jewishresidents. And not because he wants to legalize Arab illegalconstruction. Officially because he is against the mayor.

A few years ago, Turgeman told this journalist that heappreciated modern ballet. He didn't say anything about ga-gaspecifically, but who knows?