|The story below is satirical fiction. Any resemblance to the truth is coincidental. Even elected Israeli leaders are to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, however, this story could be about practically any Israeli minister. As an item in the Los Angeles Times website recently noted: “Every prime minister in the last 15 years has been investigated for corruption, including the outgoing Ehud Olmert, whose multiple investigations ultimately resulted in early elections. But none of them had ever been indicted either, and these investigations ate away at public support in the political sphere as well as the legal system.”
Thursday night has gone and the last weekend before the election is just beginning. For the first time, the Prime Minister feels a real sense of transition; although, of course, he knows that even after the election results are tallied up it may well take a few weeks before a new government is formed. With a little luck and a lot of effort, it might even be possible to covertly muster up enough adverse influence to help prolong the initiation of Israel’s new government even somewhat more than that.
Sitting at his desk in his Jerusalem, the PM relishes every moment of the rapidly dwindling time remaining of his tenure as head of Israel’s government. He lights a fine cigar that was a gift from an octogenarian Mossad veteran who himself brought it all the way from Cuba in his very own diplomatic pouch. Senior members of the Cuban regime in Havana really know how to show their appreciation for unique ideas, regardless of whether assistance is provided in an unofficial capacity. This is true especially when it relates – however indirectly – to crafty ways of overcoming American-led economic embargo restrictions on their island.
Regardless of any contacts with Castro, many an Israeli political candidate has come to learn that those wooden cigar boxes are perfect for storing campaign contributions, at least until one gets around to accounting for them. The premier, some would presume, is no exception.
As a midnight fog envelopes the Jerusalem hillsides, the PM removes his spectacles and lifts an empty whisky bottle from his desk. He closes one eye and with the other he looks into the neck of the bottle as if it were a telescope. Peering through the inside of the glass container, he pans around the room slowly and tries to make sense of the blurred image he sees. “Nope,” he tells himself, feeling philosophical, “even now my situation is not looking any better.”
Still, being the prime minister has its perks. And although the end is neigh, this reign is not over yet. In Israel a prime minister’s term can well outlast resignation, and even extend quite long beyond elections in which that PM wasn’t even running as a candidate.
“It may not seem like much,” the premier thinks to himself. “but it is my country. And for now it’s mine, mine, mine – all mine!”
Among the perks for the privileged, at the edge of his desk, is a stack of morning newspapers and all neatly folded. Most citizens can still only dream of their newspapers and will have to wait until later in the morning for theirs; but the PM can already read them. Of course, anyone can log on to the Internet for the news but it’s nice for the PM to think that he’s still on a VIP list somewhere. Even if that list really represents little more than a newspaper distribution route.
Glancing at scandalous headline after scandalous headline, the prime minister begins to envy those people of Israel who haven’t yet seen these textual banners and are probably sleeping better as a result. Somewhat fed up, he grabs the thickest daily - only to throw most of it on the floor – and retains only the large classified ads section containing his favourite listings of job vacancies.
Just as he spreads the job listings across his desk, a night shift secretary knocks frantically on the door and rushes in even before the Prime Minister can answer. Nearly gasping for breath, she says “Sir, the President is on the phone! He is asking to speak with you.”
“At this hour?!” the PM responds, clearly annoyed. “Doesn’t that old man get any sleep? He doesn’t stop calling me to demand favours on behalf of Tzipi. She’s got such a big mouth in public but every time she needs something from me she convinces to Shimon to phone me for it!”
“No, no Sir” the secretary tries to explain. “It’s not our president on the line. It’s Barack”.
Hearing that name makes the prime minister go almost as ballistic as a Kassam rocket. “Barak?! What Chutzpah! Just because he the name Ehud is already stenciled on the door of this office, and he cannot stop salivating at the notion of inhabiting this room to take over this desk and seize my precious cigar box does not mean I will be at his beck and call!!!”
“But… Sir!” the secretary anxiously tries to clarify. “It’s not Shimon Peres or Ehud Barak on the phone – it’s Hussein!”
“Oh, you’re so silly” the prime minister chuckles. “Hussein was king, not president. And he’s no longer with us. Abdullah II is king now. But he’s in London on a shopping trip with Rania. Our man in London emailed from his Blackberry just an hour ago, to say that he was playing poker with them in the VIP room at one of the casino’s near the embassy”.
“Sir!” the secretary impatiently explains. “It’s President Barack Hussein Obama on the phone!”
“Well why didn’t you say so in the first place?! Go and ask him what he wants. He must have already received the catalogue of my wife’s artwork. I immediately added him to the mailing list. He’s probably ready to place an order for a painting or two,” the prime minister contemplates, while continuing to flip through the job ads.
The secretary scurries out the door and returns three minutes later.
“Atually, Sir, when they moved into the White House the Barack family found 11 of her pictures still on the wall. Apparently the Bushes didn’t want to take any of them back to Texas and the chief of staff urged him to phone you to ask if you’ll buy them back.”
“Buy them back?! Am I the kind of man who looks like he is associated with a satisfaction guarantee?! Anyway, I don’t have that kind of money”, the prime minister replies. “Besides, someday those paintings will be worth a fortune. Please go to tell the President that if I could afford it, I’d would be delighted to buy back the art but ever since American banks ignited the international credit crunch I’ve got no money to spare. And then come back and let me know exactly what he says.”
“Yes, sir” the secretary says, loyally. Again she leaves the room and in rush, and returns a few minutes later; but this time she has a confused look on her face.
“Well, what did the President say,” the prime minister asks, smirking shrewdly.
“The President said that he had already discussed the matter with Condoleezza and she suggested that if you aren’t able to make cash offer then surely you could trade for that cigar box on your desk, which will also save you the bother of accounting for its non-tobacco contents.”
“But…how does he know about that cigar box?!” asked the prime minister, bewildered.
“Sir, everyone knows. Surely you read the papers.”
“Actually, I’ve been spending too much time trawling though the job ads,” the premier concedes with a frown.