Middle Israel: On fathers, sons and holy ghosts

amotz asa el 88 (photo credit: )
amotz asa el 88
(photo credit: )
Has it really been a mere three years since I first entered the Knesset - formally as a lawmaker and effectively as a kingmaker? Man, how good that felt, how princely, empowered and courted I was. Abba up in the clouds, a third of the Knesset in his pocket and the rest at his feet, and me down on earth, fending off those stampeding hordes of activists, lobbyists and hacks in their shameless quest for even just a brush with his power, charm and grace. What did they know, all those opportunists, ass lickers and smalltime Machiavellians; where were they all back in '83, when Abba was a pariah and the kibbutzniks around us wouldn't even give me a ride from the ranch to school? Where were all those sycophants when Abba spent days hardly uttering a word, riding horses through the rolling hills between Sderot and Kiryat Gat, suppressing his wrath while others ran the Defense Ministry from which he, the ultimate Jewish hero, had been banished because Christians had killed Muslims? At first I still counted them, hardly digesting the most spectacular surrenderers' parade since Germany's defeat at Stalingrad. Everybody was there, from A.B. Yehoshua and Yossi Sarid to Amnon Abramowitz and Nahum Barnea. Just to see Abba hypnotize Danny Naveh, the Rasputin who had Bibi's ear back when he tried to maneuver Abba out of a cabinet seat, or Dalia Itzik, once Labor's main anti-Abba cheerleader, and now visibly mesmerized just by the sound of his name. Not to mention the White House, where the man who once was Bush-the-elder's Antichrist returned there as the younger Bush's Good Samaritan; or the Elysee, where yesteryear's Frankenstein, the ultimate persona-non-grata, was welcomed suddenly as a diplomatic Santa Claus. Still, with time I took Abba's universal exoneration for granted, and focused on what quickly became my bread and butter: power brokering. My finger was in every pie, and every other day a headline would either announce or guess Abba's moves by what was known or assumed, and in some cases invented - as my own preference. The headline I'll always cherish most was: "Halutz wins Omri's backing for chief of staff." Now what am I supposed to do with that clip? Hang it in my jail cell, or maybe just above the monitor atop Abba's deathbed? THE OTHER day, during yet another endless, quiet afternoon on that dreadful seventh floor I just had to do what one probably shouldn't do in such situations, and asked myself the question so many others now ask: Where did I fail? What if I hadn't done all those shticks; would Abba not have won anyhow? And how was I supposed to know? Spiro Agnew said "the bastards changed the rules and nobody told me." With me they couldn't change the rules because no rules existed, or so I was made to believe. Heck, Ezer Weizman's illicit deposits lined his own pockets and he was merely made to resign; I took not one penny. I only worked hard for Abba, and when I understood what I did I didn't take the fifth, and I did confess in court. Now I heard someone compare me with Prophet Samuel's sons, who lacked their father's merits, but used their status to abuse his admirers. Well, those guys seduced women on line for a blessing. Did I do anything like that? I just offered a counterweight to Yehiel Hazan, Nomi Blumenthal, Gila Gamliel, Michi Ratzon and the rest of the nonentities who rather than thank Abba for the political life he and I gave them, ganged up on him like Lilliputians on Gulliver. Obviously, the judges had other issues with me. Yes, I should have kept all those fund-raising laws to their letter, I should never have set up that stupid straw company, and I certainly should not have lied under oath. Still, Isaac Herzog's fund-raising for Barak was no less tainted, only he took the fifth. That's why in a few months, when I'll be doing time, he'll be sitting in cabinet meetings, trotting the globe, spraying sound bites and press releases. If he can, why can't I? Just because he has a law degree and his grandfather was a chief rabbi? OK, they say I filled the Likud's Knesset list with lightweights, that I had built no company, written no book, earned no degree, and that other than lineage I brought no credentials that justified national leadership; that my contribution as a lawmaker was negligible, my presence in committee sessions was rare, and that I hardly even addressed the plenum. What does that mean, that what the Knesset needs is just babblers like Zehava Galon, zombies like Matan Vilna'i, or wind manufacturers like Mickey Eitan? Doesn't the Knesset also need people who just gets it done? MAYBE MY main fault is having lost my mother to cancer just when Abba finally reached power. Had she been around he wouldn't have needed me on that first trip to the White House back in '01. She certainly would not have allowed me to get involved the way I did. She had feminine instincts, and she certainly cared for all of us more than for our careers. Well, now I am beginning to indirectly accuse Abba. Boy, if Freud had been my cellmate he could emerge from there with a best-seller. What Freud? The way my luck has been going recently I'll probably end up sharing a bunk bed with some drug dealer, or a major-league embezzler, or an underworld kingpin; man, just think about it: those gray uniforms, the daily walks, the screeching sound of the heavy metal door slamming shut well before midnight; the deep silence after curfew, disturbed only by the squeak that accompanies a stray mouse's diligent chewing of an abandoned dry biscuit at the end of the corridor; maybe a chance encounter with former minister and convicted Ecstasy smuggler Gonen Segev. Gosh, how have I fallen so fast, so hard, so deep? What is this, the Titanic? It was but a few weeks ago that I was still piecing together with Abba and Ehud the team that would lead this country to a brave new future. We were even discussing cabinet posts, ambassadorships, mayoralties, IDF commands, public-company boards, what not. Ah, those beautiful weekends on the ranch, with Dubi, Eyal and Reuven; Abba was invincible, we ran the damn world, and everyone - Saddam, Arafat, Bibi, Peretz, Kofi Annan - was left behind. Now look who is behind; Abba is behind green curtains, I am behind the times, and soon also behind bars. Asked once why he was sending me on his behalf to meet with senior Palestinians, Abba said this is the mentality that's respected in the Middle East. I thought he had a point, and so did everyone else, as they matter-of-factly accepted Abba's treatment of his son the way Hafez, Hosni and Muammar treated Bashar, Jamal and Seif el-Islam. I guess it was Abba's interpretation of his friend, nemesis and ally Shimon Peres's New Middle East. If only the court had concurred. They, apparently, have yet to join the Middle East.