Another Tack: Come to the cabaret

Olmert does his seductive utmost to banish desperate anxiety and lull us into oblivion.

A few tedious nights ago, while watching an endless array of televised electioneering, I started to doze just as another Kadima luminary explained to the viewing public how the infamous Right cynically seeks to frighten the voters, who have absolutely no reason whatever to feel uneasy or unsafe. Didn't Ehud Olmert, the great centrist enchanter, repeatedly stress that Hamas isn't a strategic danger to the state of Israel? We need to entrust the helm-of-state to him, put our faith in his braggadocio and suspect abilities, place our futures in untried hands, and most of all, not allow his political adversaries to scare us with malicious prophesies of doom. Olmert's insistent voice invaded my drowsy consciousness. He kept urging that we not obsess about our national insecurity and collective vulnerability. "Leave your troubles outside," I heard him exclaim. Imperceptibly Olmert's face grew chalky and across it stretched a garish red grin. He winked roguishly and with salacious solicitousness asked: "So, life's disappointing? Forget it. In here life is beautiful! The girls are beautiful! The orchestra is beautiful!" As I drifted off, visions from Cabaret, the critically acclaimed 1972 hit, floated before my eyes. I was transported to the movie set of the Kit-Kat Club in decadent 1930s Berlin. Infectious rhythms resonated in my ears, when it dawned on me that Olmert was none other than the eerie emcee. Deftly doing his grotesque introduction number, Olmert bellowed: "Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome im cabaret, au cabaret, to cabaret..." Inside the cabaret, as Olmert enticingly promised, everything was gaudy, syrupy and self-indulgent. Olmert did his seductive utmost to banish desperate anxiety and lull the clientele into obliviousness of the looming nightmare outside his pleasurable sanctuary. Magnetic hallucination prevailed in Olmert's cabaret. His popular Jericho hocus-pocus - non-too-spectacular a feat of legerdemain and of limited impact - made him look macho and steadfast. Hamas faded into irrelevance, while the emcee advised cloyingly against fretting about an al-Qaida foothold next-door. BESIDES, TERROR can be combated via the destruction of more settlements, this time only five minutes from Kfar Saba. The success of the abandoned Rafah Crossing can be replicated on the Allenby Bridge. It's simpler to pretend to control demographics by uprooting Jews than to actually defeat genocidal enemies. It's less distressing to appease implacable foes with territorial tributes than face the truth that this conflict isn't about real estate but about our very existence in this land. Unilateralism has regressed us 130 years, but better not dwell on the unpleasantness of a life-and-death struggle. So far unilateralism erased the Left's territories-for-peace equation. We gave territories and got no peace. It also rubbed out the border-surveillance prerequisite of even minimalist Israeli defense doctrines. Likewise gone is the notion of demilitarizing the areas Israel cedes. Israel retreated from Gaza but, contrary to disengagement's elementary logic, remains somehow responsible for its sworn enemies' welfare. Last but hardly least - the Palestinians escaped penalty for unleashing their homicidal intifada. Their terrorist offensive was instead handsomely rewarded. Olmert has recently announced that yet more bountiful handovers (euphemistically dubbed "convergence") are in the pipeline. Can these realistically mitigate Hamas bloodlust? Will more free gifts constitute significant disincentives for an Iranian-Hamas Axis, for raining Kassams on the densely populated Coastal Plain, Greater Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion Airport? Why desist from aggression when it pays off? The irrationality of Olmertian assumptions is what swept Hamas to power. Moreover, it's only a matter of time - not much time - before Hamas rule gains international legitimacy. The junkets of Hamas kingpins to Russia and South Africa and their planned excursions to Turkey and Venezuela are only harbingers of what's to come. Things are sure to go from bad to worse. When George Bush's term ends, he's likely to be replaced by a Carter-Clinton clone who'll rule out any American intervention in this region - even if Iran flexes nuclear muscles, Lebanon becomes a bastion of Islamic extremism and our own Hamastan destabilizes all neighboring regimes, primarily Jordan. We'll be left on our own then, weaker and more exposed, restricted to our shrunken confines and under a vacillating, irresolute and unprincipled leadership. We'll never know what drove Ariel Sharon to promote the disengagement opiate. Perhaps legal entanglements indeed tipped his scales. But Olmert pushed this drug way before Sharon ever came near it. Olmert continues to hawk addictive delusion. Anyone who tries to poop his party is scorned. The merrymaking must go on regardless of occasional wake-up calls from pesky reality, including from in-your-face Hamas honchos, who have no intention of misleading us. They remind us at every opportunity that for them Israel is a candidate for termination. Olmert plans to douse their destructive ardor by showering them with additional gratuitous concessions. There's really no need to worry or take savage threats seriously. It's all a lark. Life is a cabaret. So Olmert hypnotically chanted, mesmerizing us to the bitter end - like the old film's iconic emcee - with the assurance that "we have no troubles here!" Before the credits, Olmert's musical accompaniment too switched to a fatalistic drumroll, which culminated in a cymbal's sharp reverberation and abruptly fell silent. As in the movie, the sudden stillness evoked a sense of approaching cataclysm, but the final blurred images that lingered ominously through the unfocused camera lenses weren't of Brownshirts and swastikas but of Hamas Green. I awoke in a cold sweat. The Kadima commercial was still running on the boob-tube. All's well - no need to panic. The cabaret is still in business.