Ehud Olmert, the anti-Churchill

News item:

An indictment against former prime minister Ehud Olmert was served at the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday afternoon in three out of the four corruption-related cases standing against him: ‘Rishontours’, ‘Talansky’ and the ‘Investment Center’.

The indictment, filed by State Attorney Moshe Lador and Jerusalem District Attorney Eli Abarbanel, includes severe charges against Olmert, among them fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents and tax evasion. However, the former prime minister is not charged with bribery.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this were the last we had to hear of this man: an ‘accidental’ Prime Minister who wasn’t up to the job and also turned out to be a common thief!

Although there was plenty of blame to go around for the débacle that  was the war against Hezbollah in 2006, Olmert deserves a lot of it. Unfortunately what was not done then will need to be done in the future, and another PM will face a much tougher challenge than Olmert did in 2006.

Olmert was also — at least nominally — PM during Operation Cast Lead. While the full story of its premature termination has not yet surfaced — what was Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told when she flew to Washington in mid-January immediately before Obama’s inauguration? — one wonders whether the outcome would have been different if someone else had been PM. This will also have to be done over again at greater cost.

Olmert was the anti-Churchill. In 2005, he expressed his wish that the disengagement from Gaza would lead to peace thus:

We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies. We want them to be our friends, our partners, our good neighbors, and I believe that this is not impossible… That it is within reach if we will be smart, if we will dare, if we will be prepared to take the risks, and if we will be able to convince our Palestinian partners to be able to do the same.

What an unprecedented combination of defeatist rhetoric, bad politics, and fundamentally wrong analysis!

By comparison, the US is a big country with huge resources and the capacity to survive a really rotten administration once in a while (although we don’t want to make a habit of it). But Israel is small, things happen fast, and her existence is much more precarious than many people think. One jerk in a high place can do a lot of damage.

Goodbye Mr. Olmert, good luck in court, and good riddance.

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3 Responses to “Ehud Olmert, the anti-Churchill”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    I do not believe Ehud Olmert should have been indicted. His indictment will only contribute its little bit to the worldwide effort at discrediting and delegitimizing Israel.
    I also do not believe he should be indicted for another reason. The U.S. has just finished paying tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy who by all accounts had a remarkable career as Senator. But the free inquiring investigative press of the United States did not report one fiftieth of the things it might have reported about Kennedy. The same is true about most politicians.
    My own belief is that the Israeli Police and the Prosecutor’s office has an exaggerated sense of their own mandate and power. They have gone after politicians one after the other and made it almost impossible for many to do their work. Remember the stuff with Bibi, the stuff with Barak, the stuff with each and every politician they put their eyes on.
    Another point about Olmert. He wasn’t the greatest but he did give his life and career to public service in Israel. He did work very hard and make contributions in a number of ways. I have heard from local citizens in Jerusalem that he was a politician who if he made a promise tended to keep his word.
    I believe indicting him will do no one any good, and certainly not be to the credit of Israel.
    But what about ‘Justice’ you say, and fairness and deterring people in high places from criminal action?
    I do not say that there are not reasons for indicting him. I only say in my judgment it is not the best thing to do for Israel now.

  2. Shalom Freedman says:

    There is another thought about why I am not happy about seeing Olmert indicted.
    It has to do with a certain spirit which is present in Israel and which I find very detrimental. This is a spirit of vindictiveness, of petty resentments, of taking pleasure when someone in a high place gets hit and hurt. This ‘ruach ra-ah’ bad spirit is in my feeling the exact opposite of what the spirit of Israel should be.
    We should be a country and people interested in helping each other, and promoting each others successes. If someone knows misfortune it should not be a cause for rejoicing but rather for sorrow. Petty vindictiveness is ugly and self- defeating.
    This is the exact opposite of being a model nation, a good example for others, a society whose morality can be an example for all of mankind.

  3. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Shalom,
    Everything you say is true. The problem is that 1) Olmert did so much damage in 2006. It wasn’t all his fault, but it was all his responsibility. And 2) if even half of what he is accused of is true, what did he do for the image of Israel and Jews in the eyes of the world?
    Finally, I am tired of hearing that politicians in general do what they do to be ‘of service’ to the nation. Maybe this was true of Ben Gurion or Begin, but it is not true of Olmert or even Bibi. They do it for the power, the fame and in many cases, the money.

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