Although the late Tourism Minister, Rechavam Ze'evi
Hy"d who lost his life last week at the hands of
Palestinian terrorists was the head of a non-religious party
and he himself was not a practicing Jew, anyone who was in
contact with him knew that Ze'evi was a warm Jew with a
connection to Judaism. He put on tefillin every
morning for many years, and even participated in Torah and
gemora shiurim many times.
Deputy Education Minister Rabbi Avraham Ravitz recalled last
week how Ze'evi had visited him in his house about 16 years
ago before either of them had been elected to the Knesset,
for a certain purpose. They sat together with a few other
people all night and in the morning Ze'evi asked to put on
tefillin, saying that he was making a resolution to
put on tefillin every day from then on.
Two weeks ago Prime Minister Sharon held an "integration
meal" in his house prior to the commencement of the Knesset's
winter session, to which all the members of the coalition
were invited. Ze'evi decided to sit together with the UTJ
MKs. Joining them too were Minister Efraim Sneh and the
Minister of Infrastructure Avigdor Lieberman.
The chareidi MKs had been promised a "glatt kosher" meal, but
this did not materialize for some reason. The issue of the
missing "glatt kosher" meals soon became the major topic of
conversation at this table and the other tables as well.
Ze'evi shared the anger at the lack of consideration shown
for the needs of the chareidi MKs. He also expressed an
interest in the differences between the various mehadrin
kashrus committees and in what makes food "glatt kosher"
as opposed to "plain kosher."
The chareidi as well as national-religious parties knew that
when it came to any religious topic in the Knesset Ze'evi's
vote was there. He never voted against any religious topic or
legislation, even if this went against his conscience, such
as the topic of army service for yeshiva bochurim
(Ze'evi was a retired Brigadier General in the IDF). He would
always cast his vote against any anti-religious initiative or
piece of legislation.
Rabbi Ravitz said last week that before the 12th Knesset,
Degel Hatorah ran for the Knesset for the first time as did
Ze'evi's party Moledet, and that was when both of them
entered the Knesset for the first time. Somehow it turned out
that the representatives of Degel Hatorah and of Moledet sat
near each other in the Knesset plenum. That was when Ze'evi
told Ravitz that with respect to any religious topic their
two parties would be like one enlarged party, and he and his
colleague would vote whichever way the MKs of Degel Hatorah
would tell them to.
He kept this promise from that day onwards. His vote could
always be relied on to torpedo any vexatious Bill sponsored
by Meretz or another anti-religious MK and to pass any
legislation of a religious nature.
A Mysterious Announcement
According to a government decision the General Security
Services are responsible for the security of government
ministers, as well as for the security of the President, the
mayor of Yerushalaim, past Prime Ministers and others. On the
other hand, the police are responsible for the security of
MKs, assisted by the Knesset officer and guards.
Last Wednesday the Knesset spokeswoman was quick to issue to
statement to the press explaining the situation with regard
to the security of MKs in order to reassure the media that
everything was in order in this respect and that the
necessary measures were being taken.
The problem is that nothing of substance was contained in the
announcement, which contained the headline, "Details about
the security of MKs." It says there that the Knesset officer
has recently published a refresher leaflet to MKs containing
rules of caution and behavior. According to MKs, this leaflet
contains no special information beyond standard and
acceptable rules, such as who to inform of suspicious
situations and so on.
The announcement to the press issued by the Knesset
spokeswoman also contained a paragraph which caught the
attention of journalists covering Knesset affairs. This was
due to the difficulty of understanding its contents. It said:
"Intensive staff work has recently begun in cooperation with
the police and has just been completed. Operative decisions
connected with the security of MKs were adopted, and are due
to be put into operation over the coming few days." Nobody
understands this sentence. Does it mean that safety measures
to protect MKs will be intensified; will each MK be assigned
a policeman to guard him or another form of protection?
Anyone with an insight into the above is kindly requested to
send an explanation to Knesset journalists who were not able
to make heads or tails of it.
Incidentally, Minister of Internal Affairs Uzi Landau lives
in an ordinary apartment block. One of these apartments was
recently burgled. What would have prevented these same
burglars from entering another apartment in the same
building, namely that of Landau? Do the GSS intend from now
on to set up a guard, inspector or jeep outside every
minister's house or every MK's house for that matter?
Securing the safety of MKs, ministers, and other public
figures is no simple matter. It is very difficult to guard
them 24 hours a day, unless a decision is made to grant every
public figure the status of a Defense or Foreign Minister,
who have close protection around the clock. Even in this
case, who can guarantee the safety of a minister's family
members? In brief, a lot may be spoken about security and
operative decisions, but it is very difficult and almost
impossible to supply absolute security.