Tova Herzl
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This government is a joke

Our defense minister is in America, but is he having crucial meetings with his US counterparts? Funny you should ask
Louis de Funes Louis in The Gendarme and the Extra-Terrestrials (1979)
Louis de Funes Louis in The Gendarme and the Extra-Terrestrials (1979)

There is a saying that goes, “If he weren’t my fool, I too would laugh.” Like much else, it sounds better in Yiddish: Ven der nar volt nit geven mayn, volt ikh oykh gelakht. So here is a list of things that would make me laugh, if only…

Yoav Gallant, minister of defense, has flown to the United States. Our defense relations with America are unequivocally vital. Will he visit Washington DC where the defense establishment is concentrated so he can have meetings in the Pentagon, National Security Council, and relevant congressional committees? He will not. Until the prime minister is invited to Washington, no minister will see the Potomac. That will teach the Americans a lesson! Gallant will meet Jewish organizations and people at the UN. Relax, everything is under control, and you can crack a smile.

But wait, is he really the minister of defense, or only part thereof? Because another minister, Bezalel Smotrich, also serves in that ministry. In what is arguably the most sensitive field, territories and settlements, where every misstep can have huge consequences, one leader pulls here and the other pushes there. Surely this merits a chuckle, no?

You might say, security is so important, at least there are two ministers dealing with it full-time! But no, because Smotrich also has a day job as minister of finance, one of the most responsible and demanding positions in government. Credit companies issue warnings, investments are fleeing, currency is weakening. But for the august minister, the position is part-time. That’s comedy gold! 

The minister of foreign affairs made headlines: Eli Cohen met with his Libyan counterpart! In Rome! But wait, there’s a punchline: riots broke out, she had to flee her country, and other Arab countries with whom Israel is talking secretly are asking themselves if we can be trusted to keep our mouths shut. 

Did you hear the one about where the Prime Minister lives? The official residence in Balfour Street is currently not habitable. Therefore, the state (that’s you, my dear) is covering the costs of his private home on nearby Azza Street. Fair enough. That apartment requires renovation, and our Second Couple (sorry all, the President and his wife are First) have moved to a hotel. But wait, you might ask, they have just been on two short vacations, why wasn’t that time used for the renovation? Also, the state (still you, and me too) covers the costs of their private home in Caesarea, surely they could stay there for a while? After all, he doesn’t sit for hours in traffic, nervous knuckles on the wheel, like the rest of us. Stop kidding around, you silly taxpayer.

As Jerusalemites will testify (between guffaws), the Waldorf Astoria is uniquely located – and this is about as funny as it gets – between Mamilla, King David, Agron, Shivtei Yisrael, several smaller streets, and near the light rail. Is there a funnier location for convoys to block traffic in a city that is constantly jammed? I wish French comedian Louis de Funes or his British counterpart Peter Sellers, who both played policemen, were still alive. They could take turns directing the traffic, and add to the hilarity. 

I could go on. About the sense of humor it took to change a Basic Law to enable Aryeh Deri, a convicted criminal, to rejoin the Cabinet. Or how Itamar Ben Gvir, another individual with a string of convictions, is funnily the minister in charge of law enforcement? Or the amusing comment by Minister of Housing Yitzhak Goldknopf upon assuming office that he was not aware of a housing crisis.

One of these could easily win first prize for comedy – in Yiddish or in any other language – if only the joke was not on us.


About the Author
Tova Herzl served twice as congressional liaison in Washington DC, was Israel's first ambassador to the newly independent Baltic states, and took early retirement after a tumultuous ambassadorship in South Africa. She is the author of the book, Madame Ambassador; Behind The Scenes With A Candid Israeli Diplomat.