43.7%

The primaries for the new leader of the ruling political party, Kadima, are taking place this week. One of the candidates, Shaul Mofaz (currently the Transport Minister) called a press conference yesterday and predicted he will win. So far – no news; typical candidate behaviour.

The interesting, and mildly disturbing, piece of news is that Mofaz confidently predicted to one and all that he will win with exactly 43.7% of the vote. Not 40% or 45%, mind you, but exactly 43.7%.

My first reaction was that I probably misheard (or rather misread, as I get my news from the Web). How can anyone possibly predict an election outcome with such precision? Surely even the most secular political candidate in Israel is aware of the saying of Rabbi Yochanan in the Talmud: since the destruction of the Temple, prophecy was taken from the Prophets and given to fools and children. Who in his right mind, i.e. not a fool or a child, would want to make such a prediction?

But then I remembered it is Mofaz we are talking about, and everything became clear. Mofaz, who has a lengthy military career behind him, was head of the IDF Officer School (Bahad 1) when I was there all those years ago. And even though as a cadet I did not bump into him that often, the impression that stuck in my mind from those few occasions I did hear him speak was that of a bumbling fool. I still remember all the jokes officers used to make about him behind his back. No wonder then that he, of all people, should be blessed with the gift of prophecy.

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