Many years ago, my late aunt told me a story from the Jewish Shtetl. A woman arrives at the Rabbi’s house with a glass jar containing a yellowish liquid normally taken to be tested at the local health centre. “Rabbi,” asks the woman whilst placing the jar on the table, “Is this Kosher?” The elderly Rabbi looks at the jar for a long time swaying his head from side to side and combing his white beard with his fingers. Eventually he sighs, looks up at the woman and says to her sadly “It is Kosher… but it stinks…”
What took place yesterday in the murky Israeli political swamp is Kosher. The current Knesset was voted in for a period of four years and no political aspirations of a media man or a woman or of a frustrated and bitter opposition man should be a reason to shorten its mandate by a year and a half and waste 400 million Shekels on unnecessary early elections. The prime minister is entitled to, and indeed has been trying since the early days of the government, to add to his coalition any party he chooses and to appoint its members to any position he wants. So far for matters of Kashrut. Let us move on to the overpowering stench. What took place yesterday in the murky Israeli political swamp is such a vile and sickening event that in comparison one can only describe what the late Yitzhak Rabin defined as ‘The stinking exercise by the indefatigable subversive’ as a childish prank. The media channels have already covered the various facets of this event from every possible angle. Let me focus on one aspect, central and very worrying, which is the appointment of Shaul Mofaz to deputy prime minister and a member of its security and foreign policy forums.
Shaul Mofaz was chief of staff and later defence minister during the years leading to the second Lebanon war. I never understood how he avoided for so long any responsibility to the military fiasco that characterised this war whilst Amir Peretz and Dan ‘Khaskhan’ Halutz paid the price. He was also the defence minister in the government that ‘detached’ from the Gaza strip and abandoned the Philadelphi route, thus turning what were a few workshops producing, using primitive means, short range rockets, to a fortified missile post holding a massive rocket arsenal surpassing by far that of many modern armies. “Gaza will burn,” Mofaz promised us, if a single Qassam rocket would be fired from there after the withdrawal.
Shaul Mofaz has demonstrated, in the complete contrast between his promises and his actions that immediately follow them, that he is a totally untrustworthy person. I do not know if this stems from some fault in his personality, or if it a much deeper mental disturbance. I am not a psychiatrist in my profession. But I do know two other things. The first is that the government of Israel will be called upon to make some decisive security decisions in the time it has remaining, and probably already this year. Mofaz is not a man I would want wandering between the legs of the makers of these decisions at such a critical time. The second is that if for some reason, and this has happened before in Israel more than once or twice, Binyamin Netanyahu will not be able to continue in his role, Shaul Mofaz would become acting prime minister, just as Ehud Olmert became acting prime minster when Ariel Sharon slipped into coma. This possibility should keep every same and self-preserving Israeli awake at night.
Already this morning there is talk about some members of Kadima abandoning Mofaz and joining forces with Tzipi Livni. This will not happen soon – their lust for power comes before anything else. I would expect though, and would not be surprised, to see several Likud ministers like Binyamin Zeev Begin, Dan Meridor and perhaps even Moshe Ye’elon deciding that the overpowering stench around the government table has become unbearable, and tendering their resignations.