Sunday, July 13, Last Updated 12:00 GMT
JERUSALEM, Israel — In a rare move of self-awareness and humility, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, had been decorated this morning with a bold caption in white that reads “Ko’ach Mash’chit” — a translation of “Power Corrupts” to Hebrew. It is not clear yet whether this is a very elaborate prank or part of the entrance wall’s scheduled refurbishment, which has been in planning for several months now.
The Knesset Spokesman, Giora Pordes, was very decisive about the manner. “
The white painting was certainly not approved by any official authority, and that section of the wall was quickly fixed within the hour.”
However, former Minister of Education, Yossi Sarid, expressed his disagreement with Mr. Pordes. “
I did not expect this to happen, well, ever. But there was a very similar suggestion I submitted to the chairman in 1999 regarding the inscription of Lord Acton’s famous quote somewhere within the assembly hall itself. As you can imagine, there wasn’t much support among other Knesset members, and the suggestion was quickly forgotten.”
Mr. Sarid has retired from the political life by now, although he remains influential via his weekly commentaries in various Israeli media. “
I don’t know whose idea this was,” he continues, “
but I think it comes at a very interesting time, and I hope it’ll be left up there, because, you know, it’s just true. At the end of day, power corrupts, and we lawmakers should have the minimal amount of humility to acknowledge that, to admit that we’re human. I don’t think it shows any disrespect — on the contrary, the public will only respect the legislative authority if it shows signs of ‘I’m willing to change; I’m willing to learn from my own mistakes’.”
John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton (known commonly simply as Lord Acton) is believed to be the originator of the famous dictum in 1887: “
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.“
As indicated by Mr. Sarid, the mysterious white painting appears on the eve of Talansky’s cross examination, when PM Olmert is sunk up to his neck in corruption allegations. This weekend alone, another allegation surfaced in the media regarding his flight bills at the time when he was mayor of Jerusalem.
More answers are likely to clear up in the coming days, as government officials and Knesset bureaucrats will have to face with the aftermath of this successful prank and the implications it may have on the public atmosphere.