Another Tack: Follow the yellow brick road

Abu-Mazen refuses to renounce his goals of capturing Toto and attaining control of Dorothy's magic slippers

As part of last week's provincial, sycophantic and syrupy welcome for George Bush - orchestrated with every shameless kitschy contrivance - some inspired stage-manager had a young girl offer red roses and cloyingly sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to the big boss, who had come down from the White House to boost his own sagging prestige and that of his flunky fawning protege, Ehud Olmert. Schmaltzy excess notwithstanding, there's lots of merit to choosing The Wizard of Oz theme. It was just used incorrectly. Here's a more apt rewrite. The cast: Dorothy - Shimon Peres The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - G. "Dubbleya" Bush Glinda - Condi Rice The Wicked Witch of the West Bank - Mahmoud "Abu-Mazen" Abbas The Tin Man - Ehud Olmert The Cowardly Lion - Ehud Barak The Scarecrow - Tzipi Livni The Flying Monkeys - Kassams and Katyushas The Munchkins - Israel's citizenry The Yellow-Brick Road - the "road map" The plot synopsis: Our incurably optimistic Dorothy, always enthusiastically promoting rosy visions of "The New Middle East," never tires of reminding us that "somewhere over the rainbow way up high, there's a land" she's "heard of once in a lullaby." Adversity won't dampen her escapist delusions, because: "When all the world is a hopeless jumble And the raindrops tumble all around Heaven opens a magic lane… To a place behind the sun Just a step beyond the rain… Where troubles melt like lemon-drops Way above the chimney-tops." Glinda, seemingly all smiles and goodwill, in actual fact coldheartedly cons Dorothy and her assorted companions. She callously conceals the fact that Dorothy all along possesses the power to solve her problems by herself and safeguard her most vital interests. With deliberate guile Glinda dispatches the inveterate daydreamer down the Yellow-Brick Road to seek a miracle from a counterfeit wizard - a patent-medicine peddler, who falsely promises cure-alls and who has no compunction to leave in the lurch any suckers who foolishly depend on his benevolence. He flies off in his Air Force One balloon, deserting the dumb dupes. Meanwhile back at the Mukata, the wickedness of the West Bank's once-infamous witch is far from dead. Glinda may broadcast her "good news" about the transformation of the malevolent hotshot from terrorist to ally, but Abu-Mazen is hardly the reformed character she makes him out to be. He may vow to coexist peacefully with Dorothy and her Osloite band, but in effect he persistently refuses to renounce his goals of capturing Toto and attaining control of Dorothy's magic slippers - to be used to further his nefarious schemes. And so, even as Abu-Mazen makes nice to cozy up to Glinda and her Wizard, Flying Monkeys (whom Abu-Mazen was supposed to curb but pleads woeful inability to restrain) menacingly descend upon the peaceful inhabitants of Sderot and its vicinity. They keep coming at the very time the bamboozled Munchkins up north surreally glorify the: "Whiz of a Wiz if ever a Wiz there was, If ever, oh ever, a Wiz there was, The Wizard of Oz is one because… Because of the wonderful things he does." Neither the Wizard, nor Glinda and certainly not Dorothy and her entourage, seem to care about Sderot's plight. The Tin Man has an excuse: "…I could be kind of human If I only had a heart. I'd be tender, I'd be gentle And awful sentimental… If I only had a heart." The Cowardly Lion candidly admits that "Yeah, it's sad… When you're born to be a sissy Without the vim and verve, But I could show my prowess, Be a lion, not a mowess, If I only had the nerve." The Scarecrow is aloofly above the fray because: "I could wile away the hours Conferin' with the flowers, Consultin' with the rain, And my head I'd be scratchin' W hile my thoughts were busy hatchin' If I only had a brain. I'd unravel any riddle For any individ'le In trouble or in pain." With such professed good intentions, no wonder Scarecrow's approval ratings leave the unfeeling Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion so hopelessly behind. This crew, regardless of their glaring deficiencies, blithely proceed down the Yellow-Brick Road at Glinda's imperious prodding. Establishment-oriented Munchkins (mainly, according to their own proclamations, members of the "Lullaby League" and the "Lollipop Guild") egg them on despite the Flying Monkeys' ongoing attacks - all dire consequences be damned. Exuberantly they shout: "Follow the Yellow-Brick Road, Follow the Yellow-Brick Road…" They drown out all other voices. Only pro-Yellow-Brick Munchkin opinions are resonated by Munchkin-land's media, and the Munchkin police sternly restrict the opposition's protest options in the hallowed name of democracy and the civil liberties that Munchkin-land boasts. Reality can be awfully pesky for those reckless trekkers down Glinda's treacherous road to the phenomenal, if bogus, destination. Existential dangers to all those trusting Munchkins don't concern the Yellow-Brickers nearly as much as the spin. With some cosmetic touchups the truth can be prettied up and their image improved, especially in Oz where appearances override all else. Their PR specialists give our headliners the requisite makeovers. The Tin Man's damage-controllers "rub here… rub there" to keep him "in repair." The Lion's publicists "clip here… clip there" to give their client "the roughest claws." A "couple of brand new straws" are inserted in Scarecrow's cranium and Dorothy's beauticians crow that they can "make a dimple smile out of a frown." The ultimate object is to sustain illusion at any cost. That's why the Tin Man gets a ticking pocket-watch in lieu of a heart, the Lion's courage is attested to by a medal and the proof of the Scarecrow's infinite wisdom is scribbled on a diploma. The wrap-up: Dorothy doesn't disown the fantasy even when it's exposed as a hollow sham. Mistakes aren't ever admitted - especially not of the survival-threatening sort. The fraudulent Wizard has absconded but promises to return to celebrate the Munchkins' Independence Day. That should help prevent too many niggling doubts about Dorothy and Co. Hardly anyone stops to ponder whether Munchkin-land can at all be considered independent, given its little peoples' obsequiousness.