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Holier than the Pope

(In this rant I am using the above headline as a hyperbolically, in the sense of negative/ mocking criticism of our former overtly pious Minister of Health, who, if a comparison can be made, considers himself holier than The Pope.)

Outrageous of me, scandalous, of course, but the man sets himself up for ridicule.

I made a vow some weeks ago not to watch the news, read the newspapers, search on-line for news stories, and to cease ranting and raving about the majority of the wallies in Jerusalem. Enough is enough. They are not worth my time, effort. And yet I am, putting pen to paper to rage against a man who should never have been appointed a government minister or before that, a deputy minister.

To borrow an old phrase from Yair Lapid “show me the money”.

The ultra-orthodox religious parties are neither left, center, or right-wing. If anything, Shas was established to champion the needs of Mizrachi Jews, many of whom were and maybe still are, in a lower socioeconomic group. Historically many in this group did support Menachem Begin, but just as many were Labour supports.

The ultra-orthodox religious parties have never been shy about coming forward and demanding money for their support of any particular shade of government. Money, power, and influence are their demands, following which they are happy to dance to any tune the incumbent prime minister happens to play.

In Benjamin Netanyahu, they have a captive audience.

According to various media reports - - the now former Minister of Health was “ordered”, note the word “ordered” by his rabbi to resign his position as Minister of Health and instead become Minister of Housing.

Now, while those who vote for ultra-orthodox religious parties are well versed in not doing anything without consulting and getting approval/permission from their rabbi (maybe the same or similar is true within certain elements of the national religious groupings, for secular Israelis not in the know, it must come as a shock that elected members of ultra-orthodox religious parties are not free agents, they are there to do the sole bidding of their rabbis, maybe even to the detriment of the State of Israel, which many of these rabbis, regardless of age, do not recognize. What a sorry state of affairs!

That the former Minister of Health is in the doghouse with many members of his sect over the closure of Bnei Brak, areas of Jerusalem and other ultra-orthodox enclaves around the country is an issue he needs to address. He is, regretfully a government minister, he gets paid big-bucks, enjoys all the perks of his job to shoulder responsibilities. If he does not like it, he should get out of Dodge. O’ but he can’t, not without the approval/blessing of his rabbi. So having spent thereabouts 10 years at the ministry as deputy minister under Netanyahu, and then as a minister in his own right, on orders received, he now moves to Housing to screw that up just as he screwed up Health. What a way to run a country!

(Our new minister of housing, has already in his first days, has shown the direction of his thoughts [or maybe the thoughts/orders of his rabbi] in his desire to build a new Haredi city in the Kiryat Gat region. No mention, of course, about housing for secular young couples. Stupid to expect a comment. Secular Israelis are after all below contempt to this man and his ilk.)

But back to his last days at Health.

It’s difficult to know who to blame in this on-going “he-said, he-said”. According to media reports, the former minister of health was left out in the cold by his DG and his team -

Maybe the GD, Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, felt that the minister was unable to grasp the complex issue of the coronavirus and its possible impact on the country. Maybe the minster had zero interest in the matter, after all, it appears that unless an issue is direct of important to his likeminded follows, the minister waves responsibility for the rest of the citizens of Israel.

The minister, as should all ministers including the prime minister, remember that upon election to the Knesset they become public servants, representing the needs and wants of all citizens of this country, regardless of religion, color, sects, groups, or any other distinguishing features. We the common people, the plebeians, the just unwashed, we pay the salaries and perks of the so-called patricians, like it or not, they are our servants.

So rather than bad-mouthing the outing health ministry DG, the former health minister should remember his duties and obligations to all the citizens of Israel.

Of course, if the new minister of housing can’t cut it, make the grade, he can always take the honorable course and step aside. The problem would seem to be that the minister is neither honorable nor his own master. His first and foremost allegiance is not to the people of Israel, not to the prime minister and the government in which he loosely serves, no, it's to his rabbi. The minister can’t make any decision or take any notable actions without the consent, agreement, blessing of his rabbi. Where the hell are we, Iran?

Here I go off at a tangent. It’s reported that our new minister of transport is disappointed with the portfolio offered, the expectation, according to the media was for a more senior portfolio.

To my mind, and who the hell am I, the Transport is way ahead of most offer cabinet posts. For me it ranks as #3, behind Defense and Education. Given the prime minister's hands-on approach to Finance and Foreign Affairs, these ministers will play second fiddle to Netanyahu.

The new minster, just like her predecessors, assumes responsibility for a multifaceted transport infrastructure of roads, rail, air, and shipping. Transport needs to crystal-ball gaze, think out-of-the box and envisage the county’s complex transportation needs 10, 20, 30, 40 years in the future. A daunting task. Maybe the new minister is not up to the challenge? In the right-hands, Transport, it would seem is a reputation-making, a legacy cementing portfolio. Surprisingly, the new minister feels the portfolio is beneath her.

It’s reported that the new minster, in her wide-ranging duties and responsibilities as minister of transport, will “also be a member of the top-level security cabinet. In addition, she would be in charge of Israel’s hasbara (public diplomacy) center as well as a member of the Judicial Appointments Committee”. WOW, she going to be one busy lady.

Given all the responsibilities she is now shouldering, it came as a surprise to me, that on Sunday the minster has time is her formidable schedule to attend the opening day of the prime minister court case. This reported by Reshet Bet radio.

As the minster it would appear is playing hooky from her many responsibilities, will the hours she spends in court as a cheerleader be deducted from her overinflated monthly salary? And will she travel to/from the court by public transport or will she use her taxpayer's car, driver, security personal to attend what is not government business?

The minster needs also to remember who pays the bills. It would seem that the minister has no love for the majority of the great unwashed of this country. The impression the lady gives is that most of the population of Israel is a waste of her time and effort.

So, among the 30+ plus minsters, does anyone know the actual number, we have a new housing minister who is blinkered to see just what his rabbi tells him to see. And a new minister of transport who, acting like a petulant child who needed to be mollified at her disappointment at receiving a “minor” ministry, the prime minister has heaped additional duties on her shoulders.

What a way to run a country.

Poor us, the great unwashed.


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