Israeli politics, and the political satire thereof, often fluctuates from the sublime to the ridiculous. Such is the case regarding the allegations against Mr. Tzachi Hanegbi, a former “rising star” within both the Likud political party, and the son of another colorful political figure, Geula Cohen, whose ultra-right wing political activities were common-place during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Hanegbi, who has held several ministerial positions, including Justice Minister, and Environmental Minister, is being accused of political favoritism in hiring Likud approved individuals to important positions within his Ministries; most particularly the Environmental one. What this boils down to, as Hanegbi’s accusers have ‘kindly’ pointed out, is nothing more than the old ‘spoils system’ which has been in existence ever since the term was coined during the U.S. Presidential administration of Andrew Jackson (1836-1840). Jackson, a colorful soldier and backwoodsman who gained notoriety during the historical Battle of New Orleans in January, 1815, brought all his backwoods cronies into his cabinet, most of whom were nothing more than hunters, soldiers and pioneers, and without even a basic education. Political favoritism is something that has often been mimicked and satirized in such famous satirical ‘vehicles’ as The National Lampoon, Mad Magazine, Saturday Night Live, and (in Israel) Ha Harzofim (Political Puppetry) and Eretz Nehederet (Wonderful Land).
Hanegbi’s innocent remarks, such as “Why not? Everyone’s doing it” regarding his use of political favoritism reminds me that classic character, of Mad Magazine, that zany satirical magazine created by cartoonist and satirist Harvey Kurtzman in 1952, around the time when the McCarthy witch-hunt trials were going full blast in America against those suspected of belonging to organizations like the Communist Party. Throughout MAD’s 54 year history, virtually all notable political personalities have been satirized in the pages of the still popular magazine now even available on-line.
Now facing indictment by Israel’s aggressive Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz, Hanegbi’s political ‘favoritism’ appears to have known no bounds. Even the current national Police Commissioner, Moshe Karadi, himself under investigation for mixing politics with his position, was appointed by Hanegbi when he served as Internal Security Minister under Ariel Sharon’s government. Says Hanegbi: “people are still being appointed (to various positions) without any equality, and on the basis of ‘connections’. That’s been the norm since the State’s establishment.”
Hanegbi’s political ‘star’ has definitely fallen a bit; but he appears to be a “survivor” in this bizarre game of political maneuvering that most aptly characterizes Israeli politics. He will probably ‘pop up’ again sometime in another Likud-led political administration, which may very well become reality in the aftermath of last summer’s military conflicts.
(Photographs courtesy of Wikipedia)
October 10, 2006 at 3:36 pm
Too bad Tsachi shaves his head now. If not, he might
even pass for Alfred E.
October 11, 2006 at 1:24 am
I wonder if anyone remembers Hanegbi when he was much younger
and belonged to the Likud youth and involved in the most violent
and noisy demonstrations,including the election campaigns of
the late P.M. Menachem Begin and later Netanyahu’s election campaigns.
October 11, 2006 at 12:09 pm
Indeed yes, and he was the apple of his mother’s eye,
as she was a long-time Herut and T’zomet activist.
Those days are now long gone, thanks to improved life
styles and the high tech generation now running things
in Israel. Have you ever noticed the difference in the
young men (and women) who now work for these companies?
No more the rough and tough Dosh cartoon Sabaras, from
whom the Arabs used to run away from.
That’s why things are the way they are. High tech
military equipment isn’t enough to win wars – as last
summer’s experience indicated. Guts and determination
is needed too. Not everyone can pack up their lap-tops
and skeedaddle out of here if the ‘crunch’ does come.