A joke in Israel has it that the Knesset, fed up with corruption among elected officials, passed a law. Every guilty official must walk into the Mediterranean to a depth consistent with the degree of guilt. So Haim Ramon, accused of kissing a woman who merely wanted a photograph, goes out up to his ankles. Finance Minister Hirchson, guilty of financial shenanigans, goes in up to his knees. President Katzav, guilty of serial sexual harassment, goes in until the Mediterranean laps his chin. Someone walking by on shore calls, “Katzav, why are you only out to where the water is up to your chin?” The disgraced president replies, “I’m standing on Olmert’s shoulders.”
Since Olmert took over after Ariel Sharon’s stroke it seems as if with each passing day another abuse of the public trust was discovered. Till now he has not been indicted, reminding this observer of Big Julie’s line in Guys and Dolls, “I got a clean record, arrested 23 times–No Convictions.”
But when the Prime Minister’s legacy is written, it will not be about his tendency to run his political offices like a corrupt political hack, it will be his leading of Israel in a long march toward suicide.
Look at his “accomplishments.” Because of his indecisiveness during the war with Hezbollah three years ago, the IDF lost one of its biggest weapons, an aura of invincibility. He has been “waging” war of attrition with Hamas, well Hamas is waging the war, Israel is just “Taking it.” During Olmert’s tenure, the Negev Communities such as Sderot, have been suffering almost daily bombardment from Kassam rockets and the PM has done little to protect them. Even complaining once, because a particularly vicious barrage of rockets, he had a rough day.
With Olmert as Prime Minister, it was all about him. He was never the confidant compassionate leader like Churchill during the Nazi air raids on London, nor did he ever give the impression that the terrorists would be punished like Sharon. His leadership style was “hey deal with it” followed with angry threats directed toward the terrorists. Threats which turned out to be void of any substance.
Even at the end, it was other people’s fault. Just the day before his resignation he said, “we changed from a positive people to a nation of grumblers who complain in almost every situation,” If that is true, it is only because a nation learns from their leaders. Great Israeli leaders such as Ben Guron, Begin and Sharon were all about determination and self-sacrifice. Olmert was all about whining and giving blame.
Olmert’s greatest failure during his tenure was forgetting what Jabotinsky said:
It is incredible what political simpletons Jews are. They shut their eyes to one of the most elementary rules of life, that you must not “meet halfway” those who do not want to meet you.–Ze’ev Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall November 4, 1923
His series of one-sided concessions, have done as much to empower the terrorists as any bombs and guns that Syria and Iran might have supplied them. If the surge in Iraq has done anything it has proven once again, that terrorists only understand brute force, and the only way to achieve the peace Israel so desperately wants is through routing the terrorist forces militarily.
Whats next for Israel ? Whether it will be Livni or Mofaz for Kadima, one thing is sure, after over three years of living with Ehud Olmert as Prime Minister, the Israeli people deserve a public debate on how best to reverse Olmert’s march toward suicide. The Israeli people deserve a chance to have their voice heard through new elections.