Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Sartorial Style (or not) of the 32nd Government of the State of Israel

Back in the day, I made the serendipitous discovery that the inevitable hangover/comedown following a night on the tiles was best treated by a gentle morning in front of the television, drinking tea and watching the Parliamentary Channel on the BBC.

Now that I'm older and wiser, a sensible and responsible father and lacking the physical stamina to go out raving every night

(if you believe the first part of that sentence, you'll believe anything)

the need to bring myself back to earth gently with the aid of the soothing soliloquies supplied by Her Majesty's parliamentarians no longer pertains.

However, I still get the occasional hangover - or, as was the case yesterday, a monstrous case of jet lag, courtesy of El-Al's decision to overheat the plane I was trapped in on Monday night.

So mid afternoon yesterday, I did the next best thing, brewed a pot of tea and watched the inaugural session of the 32nd Government of the State of Israel.

Clearly, this wasn't a good idea, my Hebrew being what it is. More to the point, I've concluded that this Knesset is little more than an assortment of clowns and chancers - and I am being non-partisan here - and thus ought not be dignified by serious consideration.

So I changed my focus slightly, and decided to reflect on the dress sense of the MKs instead.

A brief summary:

Bibi - Resplendent in a tailored suit, spoilt somewhat by a disgusting spotted mauve tie. Interestingly, he wasn't wearing cufflinks. Perhaps he has learnt the lessons of his last stint as Rosh Ha Memshalah, or at least those concerning the acquisition of expensive luxury items (he clearly learnt nothing about the construction of a right-wing coalition); in any case, conspicuous consumption is so 2008, innit? His comb over is much more apparent/ludicrous - he should tell his barber to give him a Number One, like Tricky Udi. That said, his head is so big, he'd probably wind up looking like a Mekon. Perhaps not a good idea after all.

Tzipi - Smart two piece in black, with a white trim and set off by a delicate pendant. Seems to have had a haircut - flicking her hair much less than usual. Her demeanour, up until the moment she mounted the rostrum, seemed very much like the grieving, dignified widow at the first year memorial service following the death of the loved spouse. Once she got up, though, she transformed herself into something closer a professional mourner at a funeral, ranting and caterwauling without quite managing to convince. (If she thinks that this is how to provide a responsible opposition to the Government, Heaven help us all.)

Barak - Shoehorned into a suit clearly left over from his last stint as Prime Minister - several sizes too small, and cut from very modest fabric. Very proletarian. Sitting next to Tzipi whilst Tricky Udi (finally) said goodbye. Smirking as always, and somehow resembling a giant unsqueezed zit. One suspects that Barak is consciously modelling himself on Fu'ad these days - not just from his rapidly expanding belly, but also from the instinct to perpetuate himself in power at all costs.

Tricky Udi - Sackcloth and Ashes, naturally. That said, I swear I recognised a Montblanc on the table in front of him. Was not, contrary to popular expectation, led away in shackles. He'll be back. They all come back, eventually.

Benny (now, it seems, Binyamin) Begin - Last seen in these pastures a decade ago, when he left politics after realising that he no longer had a constituency to support him. Dressed in a modest, if somewhat elderly, v-neck pullover and open-necked shirt ensemble. Personally I think he's overplaying this 'modest servant of the people' card. No such animal exists in Israeli politics. Or perhaps I've become too cynical.

Shlomo Negusa Mollo - First elected black member of Knesset (REPRESENT!!!...sorry, couldn't resist that). Pissed me off mightly a while ago when he started to mumble some bollocks about differing standards of culpability for minorities in Israel, specifically citing a supposed precedent in England concerning the physical chastisement of children (In a past life, this was actually an area of expertise for me, and he sooo clearly had no idea what he was talking about...but I digress). Jacket and open shirt. Spent most of the time lolling in his seat casually, befitting what I would describe as an "off-duty playboy" ensemble. Actually, I suspect he has been watching British MPs on the Parliamentary Channel too...there was something just a little too forced about his nonchalance. If nothing else, MKs tend to spend their time hurling insults at one another...

Marina Solodkin - A delightful shawl. Somehow, this did not surprise me. She always struck as a woman with a plentiful supply of shawls

Shelly Yacimovich - What appeared to be black long sleeved sweater, well past its prime. She looked like a student. Or impoverished journalist. Of course, she was the latter...(not sure about the impoverished bit, but then, journalists are not exactly known for their sartorial sense)

(Digression - I was watching a programme on Channel 10 last night, presented by Nitzan Horowitz, now representing Meretz. It was about sustainable transport systems for major cities. He got to travel around the world, to the States, Brazil, France and Japan for the programme. Yes, I see the irony too. Anyway, ignoring the fact that he went almost orgasmic at the arrangements in a Brazillian city, he actually seemed reasonbably well dressed for a journalist. True, the bar is pretty low, but at least he didn't seem completely colour blind, which is a good start. I searched for him in the chamber, but to no avail.)

Haim "Jumas" Oron - Like a labourer in the fields. (Technically, this is inaccurate, since I actually spotted him before the session started, being interviewed for TV. Tough. I'm tired of this Kibbutz chic. The guy needs to smarten up, pronto. Next thing, he'll come to work in khaki shorts and sandals...

The person I hunted for, but failed to spot, was the former TV presenter (so NOT a journo) Anastasia Michaeli. Michaeli, an Olah from Russia and member of Yisrael Beitenu, is what is popularly known in the local parlance as a (no, I changed my mind. I can't use the Hebrew word. It is really vulgar, and [more to the point, actually] the feminist Mrs Goy will chuck me out on the street if I even attempted to adopt such phraseology into my fledgling Hebrew). Let's just say she is cute. And a snappy dresser. She is also heavily pregnant with her 7th - or perhaps 8th, I forget - child. Perhaps she had better things to do, in a maternity ward...

(Digression - Ms Anastasia has 7, possibly 8 children. She was born in 1975, which makes her 33. Even if she were orthodox - and she ain't - this takes some going. I rather suspect that she went into politics to get away from her husband. On the other hand, ignoring my juvenile sniggers, one cannot but admire a woman - irrespective of her politics - who has managed to secure a Knesset seat, given her other - significant - responsibilities.)

I'll stop here. I'd like to consider the current Knesset with more dignity, but frankly they ain't worth it. The lot of them. So I think I'll just laugh at them. As they say in one of the countries I come from, "If a man cannot cry, then he has to laugh". And undoubtedly they'll be opportunities for tears in the months to come.

Postscript: This Knesset, like others, has 120 members. Unlike others, however, it has 30 ministers. And 7 "deputy" ministers. Is it me, or does this sound irredeemably stupid?

Post Postscript: The best dressers in the Knesset, as always, were the representatives of Shas. Smart - but not sharp - black suits. Crisp white shirts. Subtle ties. Trimmed facial hair. Those boys are the business. In fact, in another world, I'd describe them as distinctly metrosexual

(Homework: Mizrahi Haredim are better dressers than Ashkenazi Haredim. Discuss.)

It's good to be back :-)

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