I have predicted before that Israel will enter a state of profound malaise, not unlike that of France, following the botched war in Lebanon. But I had no idea that my prediction would come true so quickly and so forcefully, aided by a series of shameful scandals permeating, it seems, all walks of public life in this country.
The Economist wrote briefly last week about how Israelis “have lost their usually insatiable appetite for talking politics”. The summary in the second paragraph is strikingly painful in its brutal conciseness:
The prime minister, Ehud Olmert, is under investigation for allegations ranging from dishonest property trading to trying improperly to influence the privatisation of a bank. The finance minister is being probed for embezzlement, the tax-authority head for fraud. The president faces multiple charges of rape. This week a former justice minister was convicted of forcibly kissing a young woman soldier, which could land him in jail for up to three years. The army chief of staff has resigned over the Lebanon war; this month a commission of inquiry is set to shine a harsh light on the performance of army and government.
What charming times we live in… No wonder most people prefer to ignore everything and concentrate on their daily lives. Gone are the days Israelis argued passionately about every little aspect of politics and policy. Such professed apathy may be the norm in most European countries, but in Israel it’s a novelty.