If elections were hold today in Israel a political party that never existed and a politician who was born only in the imagination of TV script writers and comical series directors would have good chances to exceed the minimal percentage and enter the Israeli Knesset. The name of the party is The Central Liberal Party (Hebrew acronym is MeLeL) and the politician’s name Ruby Polishuk. The Israeli electorate would not view something exceptionally new in MeLeL which is largely inspired from the liberal-secular Shinui party which about one decade ago increased dramatically it’s presence in the Israeli Knesset up to 15 mandates and entered Ariel Sharon’s government under the leadership of maverick and contested journalist Tommy Lapid, just to implode and disappear from the political scene three years later due mainly to internal conflicts. They would neither get too impressed by the idea of a mediocre politician, all but unknown to the wider public getting into the position of the minister of Social Progress, a ministry with a great name and no budget, as social progressing the weak layers of the society is a great idea in electoral slogans, but not one that gets any attention when elections are over. After all one third of the members of the Israeli Knesseth are ministers or vice-ministers, and a real Mrs. Polishuk was a MK, fact that seems to have been unknown even to the authors of the series. Polishuk is BTW a game of words with multiple meanings in Hebrew, the most obvious being the combination between politics and the Mid-Eastern open market (‘shuk’) the place of all bargains and tricks under the hot sun of the Levant.


source http://www.facebook.com/RubyPolishuk


While the first season of the series mainly followed the process where the new minister installed as a puppet and cover-up by handlers Humi Schalit (media personality Amnot Dankner in a combination of parody and homage to Tommy Lapid) and Kozo Avital (Guy Loel as the cynical media master in tune with all the political tricks and image manipulation) build the persona of the minister of the ministry with great goals and no budget, the second season that just ended takes a more serious tone and builds the portrait of the politician with a human dimension that was hard to guess previously. To a great extent this is due to the excellent acting of Sasson Gabai, one of the lead Israeli actors, but also to the smart and sensitive writing and gradual building of the character. In a country where every move of the politicians is under the permanent scrutiny of the media, with the tiny dimensions and huge contrasts of Israel it is just natural that the weaknesses of the politicians are our own weaknesses, and the tricks they play at national level are an extension of the tricks of survival that each of us play in the day-to-day life. Gabai’s Polishuk represents the corruption and lack of principles we put on the account of the politicians who lead us, but he also one of us in his mistakes. So seem to be many of the other characters around and those who followed the two seasons of the series until now may have started to care for the single mother and divorced office manager Solly Barzel (Hanna Azoulay Hasfari), for the young, ambitious and always gaffing communication manager Tkuma (Shir Gadani), for the neglected wife Monique or for other members of the staff of the minister. There is something of us in many of those and this helps us identify them as some among us.


source http://www.ynet.co.il/PicServer2/02022009/1999655/2_gd.jpg


I will not tell too much about the end of the season which is IMO simply genial, human and painful, open and making us want to see a third season come true. As with real life drama mixes into the comical thread which was dominant for most of the two seasons.



(video source TheIsraeliNetwork)


What comes next? I do not know yet if there will be a next season of ‘Polishuk’ – as a viewer I certainly wish it. Israeli viewers cannot miss making the parallel with the wonderful British comical series ‘Yes. Minister!’ which a few seasons later became ‘Yes, Prime Minister!’. In real life the liberal center melted and disappeared in Israel, and the nationalist and religious extremes are nowadays dominant. A Prime-Minister Polishuk would be almost pure fantasy relative to the reality of today’s politics, but maybe a fantasy worth enough for the Israeli voters to make a party that does not exist and a politician which was never born exceed the minimal representation percentage in the elections.