When Dubi meets Condi

Yoel Marcus

Haaretz

Tishrei 28, 5765

In the backyard of an apartment building was a cat in heat whose wailing kept the neighbors awake all night. They took it to the vet and had it spayed, but to their surprise, the cat wailed louder and longer than ever. "But you're not in heat anymore," one of the neighbors asked it, "so what's all the racket?" "Now I'm a consultant," said the cat.

Since his move from head of the prime minister's bureau to part-time consultant, Dov Weisglass likes to brag about the days when he was Sharon's right and left hand, about how he was Sharon's personal emissary to the White House and his full-time secret adviser on matters that could make or break the future of the state. A kind of Kissinger plus.

Weisglass has forgotten the rule that those who bypass foreign ministers, defense ministers, cabinets and ambassadors, and speak directly in the name of the government, have an obligation to be discreet. Like Simcha Dinitz and Yaakov Herzog in the days of Golda Meir. To paraphrase an old saying, when an adviser chucks a stone into the pond, even a thousand spin doctors won't be able to fish it out.

In telling Ari Shavit (Haaretz Magazine, October 8) that the disengagement plan is a way of freezing the political process and preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state, Weisglass has ultimately portrayed Sharon as a cheat and a liar, and dragged the country into a whirlwind of denials and apologies.

Dov, or Dubi, as his friends call him, landed the job as Sharon's bureau chief, alter ego and buddy as a complete surprise, thanks to a long-standing personal friendship. The guy does a better imitation of Sharon than Eli Yatzpan. Until his appointment, the relationship revolved chiefly around legal advice. It was Weisglass who advised Sharon to sue Uzi Benziman and Haaretz over their insinuations regarding his actions in Lebanon - a case he lost in every court it reached. Weisglass's strength as Sharon's bureau chief lay not in any special political savvy but in his knack for making friends with people with the help of his sense of humor.

The same way that David Levy, when he was foreign minister, used to boast that he and U.S. Secretary of State James Baker were on a first-name basis, Weisglass boasted to Shavit that Condoleezza calls him "Dubi" and he calls her "Condi." He describes her as a fabulous woman: intelligent, honest, highly educated and also incredibly nice. All he left out was whether she can cook and bake.

But most of all, he can't stop marveling at how closely they keep in touch. Sometimes they speak on the phone every day, and if not, then certainly once a week. Once a month, they meet - he's made 20 trips at last count - and they sit together for at least an hour and a half. Who can top a relationship like that? "Ask Marit, who's been the secretary for a bunch of prime ministers," he says. "For the Americans, it's convenient to have someone sitting at the prime minister's throat." A weird way to describe where he sits (or stands) as the head of an office, but probably better than some other part of Sharon's anatomy.

Like the Israeli writer Dahn Ben Amotz, who used to name-drop and then add "oh, they love me," Weisglass can't get over how they're treating him. He walks around the White House and everyone knows him, from the Marine posted at the door to the secretaries and the girls in the office. In answer to Shavit's question if he ever bumped into Bush, Weisglass is discreet: "I have, but I'd rather not talk about it. What I will say is that the president is a very charming fellow with a good sense of humor." In that department, Weisglass knows his stuff. Not only does he tell jokes, he says, but people repeat them. The question is whether the message comes through intact.

One of the remarks that got people hot under the collar was Weisglass's reference to the chemical solution formaldehyde. For the uninitiated, this is the solution that cadavers and body parts are stored in. Weisglass described disengagement as the formaldehyde in which the president's plan will be steeped to keep the political process with the Palestinians from advancing.

So Bush laughed at his jokes, but the main thing is this invention he's come up with to freeze the political process and keep a Palestinian state from coming into being. "The settlers should be dancing a jig around the Prime Minister's Office," Weisglass rightly says.

By the time the Palestinians turn into enlightened Finns, we can be sure the Messiah will have arrived. And who will be his adviser on earth if not Condi's friend, the inventor.