Avi Shamir

Election Question: Would You Hire this Man?

The interviewer reviews the candidate’s file, laid out on the desk in his office. The candidate, facing him on a posh leather chair, makes no effort to lose the sneer on his face, which manifests itself as a permanent part of his upper lip and has nowhere to hide.

Interviewer: You realize this interview is more than just a formality. Just because you’ve been running this enterprise for so long doesn’t mean your reelection is a sure thing.

Candidate (smugly): That’s why I always keep aces up my sleeve.

Interviewer (raising eyebrows): What ace have you played lately?

Candidate (with sheer arrogance): That business about putting cameras in the toilets? That was just a ruse, and you all fell for it. It’s just the idea of sticking cameras in private places that scares everyone. It’s the mere talk of cameras revealing dark secrets, without even making good on the threat. A timely scarecrow and a masterpiece of diversion. A few days before the elections, and no one’s even talking about the core issues!

Interviewer: Remind me. What are the core issues?

Candidate: All that talk about drawing up Memorandums of Understanding with rival enterprises. Forming joint ventures, making deals, that sort of thing. Creating industrial quiet. Some even call it industrial peace. Defeatist talk. The stuff that all the self-haters and troublemakers try to scare us with. The bothersome drivel that’s always kept us from actually doing what some of our constant supporters are thinking, like hostile takeovers of threat corporations. Which I have always avoided, mind you, in the name of stability. And I silenced both the hardliners who support us and all those wishy washy nay-sayers, simply by fabricating nonsensical issues and dramas and making everyone lose focus.

Interviewer (reviewing printed matter): Well, It says here that you are a wizard. That’s what the media writes about you. The same media who you say gives you such a hard time.

Candidate: I’ve always said that. It makes a good story. As long as my usual supporters want hear about the hard time they’re giving me I oblige them. This is a Jewish enterprise, and nothing sells like a good persecution story.

Interviewer: All the major stockholders are Jewish, but the Arabs are also part of this venture. Why do you always trash them around election time?

Candidate (with a wave of his hand): They’re minority stockholders.

Interviewer: We still have to face them every day. And if they muster up enough support they can make things unpleasant for us.

Candidate: (rolls eyes) They have nothing to lose but their few symbolic seats on the Board of Directors, which they hold on to very well. Jewish stockholders have more at stake. That’s why I put Jewish interests ahead of minority sensitivities. It keeps things balanced. And just look at the results. When it comes to the stability of this enterprise, no one has a better track record than me.

Interviewer: Point well taken. Ten years on the job and I can’t think of one real change you made or memorable thing you did.

Candidate (with a ready sneer, the sarcasm bouncing right off him): I think about the disasters we would have suffered if the peaceniks and so-called progressives would have had their way. I put a stop to all that.

Interviewer: True. If anyone knows how to stop Father Time, you’re the man. But let’s stop beating around the bush. According to the polling experts, you will come out with the most votes, again… But there’s still the matter of recommendations. As a representative of a key faction of the major stockholders, I have a question for you… (leans forward, lowers tone) What’s in it for my friends on this board and, more specifically, what’s in it for me?

Candidate (pulling a cigar out of his shirt pocket): Have a Havana on me, fresh off the last shipment. And there’s lots more where that came from.

Interviewer (lights the cigar, exhales): Superb!

Candidate: I’ll send you a case of champagne to enhance your experience.

Interviewer: Excellent. What else do you have for me?

Candidate: (extracting a piece of paper from his jacket pocket) I have here a lifetime voucher that gives you 50% off any purchase of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Interviewer (accepting the gift): Well, that sure sweetens the deal, but it doesn’t close it. Not by a long shot (pointing the lit cigar). So much for the appetizers. Now cut the crap and show me some hard currency…

Candidate: (smiling down at his hands) I have contacts who have a special relationship with a certain foreign corporation. After I am reelected, this firm is poised to sign a multi-billion dollar contract for major infrastructure development in Israel. We’re in on the deal. The Arab sector will gain, but only the crumbs. There’s gravy too, and if you play your cards right you and your pals will be licking your fingers.

Interviewer: How much gravy are we talking about?

Candidate: Seven figures each, for you and your associates. But of course that would come in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Interviewer: Ah, I thought that would come up. Add another zero and make that eight figures, in good English currency, of course.

Candidate: Deal!

As this interview was forming in my roaming imagination, I thought I’d give a friend a sneak preview of what I had in mind. But I figured maybe I should go easy on the satire. So I ditched the “enterprise” and kept it simple.

This is how I presented it to him: “A guy goes on a job interview. Never mind what for. Let’s say it’s a supermarket job. The interviewer looks him over, takes down his details, tells him the job is his and asks him how soon he can get started. The job candidate says, ‘well, before I start I have this legal hassle that I have to take care of. A small matter of fraud, bribery and some other fancy accusations. But no worries. Nothing will come out of it, because none of it is true.’

So my question is: ‘Would you hire this man?’”

My friend threw me a wink and said: “Only if he’s running for prime minister.”

About the Author
Avi Shamir is a freelance writer, editor, translator and the author of "Saving the Game," a novel about baseball. A Brooklyn College graduate with a BA in English, Avi has contributed to the Jerusalem Post, The Nation, Israel Scene, In English and The World Zionist Press Service.
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