Tag Archives: Ehud Olmert

From hero to has-been: A cautionary tale

At last there was some encouraging news here, last week. And I am not talking about Hosni’s continued refusal to be rattled by a rabble of rowdy Arab rebels. No . . .

Yoav Galant will not, after all, be the new IDF Chief of Staff.

It turns out that Major General Galant had chapped some 28 dunams (approximately 7 acres/28,000 square metres) of public land adjoining his modest 500-meter family home (right) on Moshav Amikam (near Zichron Ya’akov) – to build roads and a parking lot – in contemptuous disregard of the law and opposition from fellow moshavniks. After all, he was Yoav Galant, quite probably the next IDF Chief of Staff. He also lied about the matter in a letter to the Israel Lands Administration and in an affidavit to the Court.

What the Major General certainly did not expect, however, was that those same neighbours would, through the Green Movement, petition against his appointment to the IDF’s top job. And they have succeeded: the appointment was revoked on Tuesday, two weeks before Galant was to take up his new post, following the Attorney General’s inability to support it. And to them – and, indeed, to us – I say “Well done!”

Most distasteful of all, Galant, far from holding his hands up, has – with all the finesse of a schoolboy, about to be appointed Head Boy, being caught behind the bike shed with a stack of porno mags and a joint – made excuse upon excuse in a forlorn, desperate attempt to stay in the running. (And the Major General is still refusing to take responsibility for his actions, protesting his treatment and fitness for the post on three different, Friday evening, TV news programmes.)

Corruption in this country is rife. From small-time real estate yazamim (entrepreneurs) all the way up to the Prime Minister (Ehud Olmert being the latest, crudest example) – taking in government ministers and the former Tax Authority head along the way (Avraham Hirchson, Shlomo Benizri and Jackie Matza are all currently doing time) – so many Israelis are lining their pockets at the expense of Joe Schmoe and the State.

But whatever happened to idealism? Most native Israelis cannot comprehend why the hell we came here; and when I inform them that I emigrated for reasons of Zionism, they look at me with a mixture of pity and disbelief. But how did Israel, once the land of kibbutz-living, come to this? Could it be (as I have previously suggested) that there are simply too many Jews here, all competing with one other, and with most unwilling to be the freier who misses out?

Major General Galant’s neighbours on Amikam were constantly told that “he deserves [the appropriated land] because he’s a military hero . . . we have no chance against him, because this is how things are done in this country.” (Haaretz)

Indeed, one cannot help but feel a modicum of reluctance to criticise a man who has given this country 34 years’ selfless and distinguished service, and some sympathy that he has fallen so agonizingly short of the very highest office.

It is to be hoped, however, that folk like the Major General will now think twice before putting personal enrichment and greed before respect for their fellow citizens, the law, and their country.

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Why Gilad must not be freed “at any price”

The thoughts of all Israelis (and Jews), both ‘left’ and ‘right’, must surely go out to Aviva and Noam (below) Shalit – the parents of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit – following the failure of this week’s talks, in Cairo, to obtain his release.

Noam Shalit

Israel was ‘only’ willing to release 325 Palestinian prisoners for Shalit – who will spend his one thousandth day in captivity this Saturday – and not the further one hundred or so demanded by Hamas, but deemed by Israel to be too dangerous and/or to have too much blood on their hands.

Even by its dubious standards, today’s (left-wing) Ha’aretz newspaper contained a ridiculously simplistic, not to say nonsensical, piece of supposed “Analysis” (full article):

there is a price, and if you are not willing to pay it, then in reality, you oppose freeing Shalit . . . This price is reasonable . . . It does not undermine our strength or our existence. It will not change the balance of power between us and them . . . Israel has always released hundreds and thousands of prisoners in exchange for a mere handful. After all, we currently hold some 12,000 prisoners, while they have only one. Yet they are not demanding that we exchange all 12,000 for him.

Well, thank you very much! Try telling that to the parents of a victim of a Hamas massacre, whether at the Passover Seder in Netanya’s Park Hotel (30 dead), Tel Aviv Dolphinarium (21), on Jerusalem’s Number 18 buses (45), in its Machane Yehuda market (16), Sbarro restaurant (15), Café Moment (11), or Hebrew University cafeteria (9).

It is the release of the men responsible for these atrocities (and various others) which constitutes Ehud Olmert’s “red line” . . . one which, I believe, he is right not to cross. (A Google search of the author of today’s piece, Nehemia Shtrasler, shows him to be a regular contributor to The Guardian. Quel surprise!)

Like a rat, Hamas preys on weakness. And that rat knows very well how highly we Jews – so unlike it – value the individual, human life, and our responsibility towards our sons and brothers. Even ignoring the legal, moral, and immediate security considerations of releasing these murderers – how many more Israelis would they slaughter? – giving in to Hamas’s outrageous demands is to invite further kidnappings, not just of Israeli soldiers, but of Israelis and Jews the world over.

So, whilst my heart goes out to the Shalits – if I were in their (unthinkable) shoes, I would also be pressing our Government to meet all of Hamas’s demands (and soon) – it is the responsibility of the State to to take a wider, and more detached, view.

Israel’s Very Own OJs

They were all born in the mid-1940s.
They all came from modest backgrounds.
They all reached the very pinnacle of their chosen careers.
They all seemingly had everything.
Not one of them has even his pride left.

They are all now in their early 60s.
They have all been accused of serious crimes.
They have all protested their innocence.
They have all alleged persecution.
They have all lost the respect of most right-thinking members of society.

One has been brought to justice. Finally.
Most people want the other two brought to account too.

One has now shown some remorse.
Another has been fighting for his state-funded luxury car and office.
And another is doing his utmost to stay in office, and to thwart his successor.

One was a sportsman and an actor. An entertainer.
Another was President. His country’s head of state.
And another is still Prime Minister. His country’s head of government.

I know which two, to my mind, are deserving of most moral opprobrium.

Using Yitzhak: The Rabin Trade

Last week witnessed a host of events and ceremonies, across the country, marking the 13th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

An estimated 100,000 attended the main rally on Saturday evening, in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, the site of Rabin’s murder (at the hands of Yigal Amir on 4 November 1995). A friend asked me to accompany her. But I refused. I rarely attend such rallies. I tried explaining myself. But, other than telling her what she already knows (that I am contrary), I couldn’t.

The state memorial, on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl on Monday, however, reminded me exactly why – because they have been hijacked by too many opportunists and self-publicists, who milk the ‘Rabin brand’ for every drop of benefit it can provide their own agendas and careers.

The main culprit this year (you may not be surprised to hear) was Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. With his undistinguished tenure drawing to a close, and embroiled in allegations of corruption, he chose the memorial to show himself as a peace-loving visionary, following in the Oslo footsteps of Rabin.

Olmert has had three years to work on realising his claimed vision – of an Israel back at its 1967 borders, with a divided Jerusalem as its capital – but only now, as a ‘lame duck’, is he espousing it, thus burdening his successor in the Kadimah party (and also perhaps as Prime Minister), Tzipi Livni, with an unreasonable weight of expectation. Whether out of spite (Olmert and Livni are not best pals these days), or in an attempt to go down in history as a visionary rather than a criminal, only he knows.

Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, Livni’s closest rival for the top job, used the special Knesset memorial session following the state one to speak out against incitement. Yes, the very same ‘Bibi’ who took part in right-wing demonstrations – in which Rabin was denounced as a traitor, and portrayed in SS uniform (though Netanyahu distanced himself from both) – just a month before the assassination.

But it is not just Israel’s right that uses Yitzhak. Leftists continually prescribe the correct path for the country based on what Rabin would have wanted. No one knows, however, how things might have turned out were he still with us. Rabin himself went through so many transformations that it is not inconceivable that he might have returned, from the Rabin of the Oslo Accords, to his former hawkish self – as Defence Minister, he was quoted as saying “We will break their [the Palestinians’] bones” – had suicide bombers struck with as much murderous ferocity during his lifetime as they did after his death.

There are also a host of musicians who enjoy the publicity that the Rabin Square rally, in particular, earns them (though once can hardly blame them for accepting such an opportunity). Even if not entirely unsavoury, however, there is very little truly ‘Rabinesque’ about these events either, and I, for one, prefer to stay away.

Left-wing commentator and former politician,Yossi Sarid, put it far more eloquently than I ever could, in this weekend’s Ha’aretz: “Poor Yitzhak Rabin, whose memory was desecrated this week: Who hasn’t ripped off one of his limbs, amputated an arm or a leg of his heritage, and scurried off to his lair to gnaw on it? Suddenly, they were all his sons, all of them are the heirs to his way.”