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Op-Ed: Comic News From the Knesset

There is no better treatment for the doldrums than uncontrollable laughter. Just when things are looking totally bleak in Israel, God decides to cheer us all up by giving us the most comic incident of the year, possibly of the century. It is the defeat of Amram Mitzna by Raleb Majadele.
Published: Friday, January 28, 2005 1:20 AM


There is no better treatment for the doldrums than uncontrollable laughter. Just when things are looking totally bleak in Israel, God decides to cheer us all up by giving us the most comic incident of the year, possibly of the century. It is the defeat of Amram Mitzna by Raleb Majadele.

If you have never heard of Raleb Majadele, you are hardly alone. I am not sure that even his own grandchildren have heard of him. He is a brand new Knesset back-bencher from the Labor party's Meimad faction, a faction supposedly made up of lefty Orthodox Jews that try to get for the Labor party a handful of votes from people wearing yarmulkes. But Majadele is, of course, an Israeli Arab. He took over a warm parliamentary seat eight months ago when it was abandoned by the rear end of MK Avraham Burg, who decided to devote himself to the greater goal of Palestinian liberation of Tel Aviv and Haifa. Majadele's bio is at http://knesset.gov.il/mk...758. You will notice that his main achievement in life seems to be that he finished high school.

But, as things worked out, Majadele is now an Israeli national hero, a jolly good fellow, toast of Broadway and a legend in his own time. He whooped the derriere of Amram Mitzna! Really.

Amram Mitzna, you recall, was the candidate of the Labor party for prime minister of Israel in the last national election. Before that, he was the corrupt Indonesia-style mayor of Haifa, running Haifa for the benefit of his construction contractor oligarch cronies. After being thrashed by Ariel Sharon, Mitzna's machine also lost control of Haifa to a reformist party. Mitzna himself has morphed into little more than a national joke, a crooked version of Howard Dean.

This past week, Mitzna, now a lowly back-bencher in the Labor party parliamentary faction, wanted to get himself elected chairman of the nickel-and-dime Knesset committee on internal affairs and the environment. It is a committee that debates such matters of national urgency as the rules governing the fattening up of farm geese. Mitzna was challenged for the honor by MK Majadele.

The unknown Majadele beat Mitzna by a landslide committee vote of 10 to 7. He can sign up as a college student in my courses any darned time he pleases.

Can you appreciate the cosmic humor in this? The man who would have been Israel's Neville Chamberlain, the prime minister wannabe, gets beaten for a dinky committee chair slot by an unknown Arab high school grad.

Mitzna has been so discredited that he could not get himself a job as promoter of the Barbershop Quartet of River City. I doubt even American Express would hire him for one of its "You probably do not know who I am, but..." commercials. Alongside him, Mike Dukakis is Time's "Man of the Year".

I have been laughing so hard that - you will excuse me - I gotta run to the Little Inciters' Room.

The last laugh, of course, is Mitzna's. Discredited he may be, but Ariel Sharon is implementing Mitzna's Gaza capitulation plan - after it was rejected overwhelmingly by voters.