The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levi once produced a timeline, suggesting that Pakistan had a habit of arresting Al Qaeda terrorists just before Congress convened to debate the amount of aid that would be given to Islamabad. Though Levi published his findings in 2005, Congress continued to annually renew its $3 billion dollar a year pledge to the Islamic Republic. In return, Pakistan gave its earnest pledge to use the aid find and fight terrorists. It turned out they found them alright, but then proceeded to put them in suburban villas. (Here)
Which begs the question, why are we so gullible? And if the cunning politicians in Pakistan can even fool the cunning politicos in Congress, what hope is there for the rest of us?
In this week's portion, Korach gathers from among the Children of Israel a pack of the aggrieved and the malcontent. Griping against the authority of Moses and Aaron, they rail: "You take too much upon yourselves, seeing that all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and Lord is among them. Why have you lifted yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?" (Num. 16.3)
The Tanhuma imagines that the people were initially skeptical of Korach's intentions. So like any good politician he made his campaign stops: "That night Korach went from tribe to tribe to seduce them: 'You imagine that I am concerned only for myself, but I am concerned for all of you. They have taken all the great privileges: To Moses, the Monarchy, and to Aaron, the Priesthood.' Eventually, they were all seduced." (Rashi - Num.16.19)
It would be nice if there was a sure way to know what is in a politician's heart, to discern lie from truth. But by the Tanhuma's assessment, unmasking a crafty leader, akin Korach, is no easy task.