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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Olmert trying to distract the Israeli public

Before I start this post, please allow me to inform you that the previous post was the 2000th since I started this blog on January 4 of this year.

When Richard Nixon's presidency was falling apart in 1974, he attempted to distract the American public by involving himself in foreign policy and its inherent foreign travel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whose government is crumbling around him would love to take a trip, but in many countries his arrival would prompt charges of 'war crimes' - charges that are admittedly unwarranted. So Olmert stays in Israel, and receives heads of state and foreign ministers on an almost daily basis.

Yesterday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair came calling for Olmert. Blair, who should be regarded as a hero here in Israel for standing up to his own Labour party, is on the verge of being thrown out of office due to his unstinting support for US President George Bush's war on terror and for Israel in the recent war. Blair, too, is apparently trying to distract the public from his woes.

Olmert needed to throw Blair a bone. But the bone he threw him was a bit too juicy. Olmert announced last night that he was dropping his previously stated condition to meeting with 'moderate Palestinian President' Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen, namely the release of kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit. That meeting in and of itself would probably be meaningless - neither Olmert nor Mazen is in any position to do anything - both of them are too weak.

More significantly, although Blair did not demand any substantive concessions from Olmert, Olmert volunteered one. Olmert pulled the 'road map' out of the dustbin and placed it back on the table:
"I remain dedicated to advancing the political process with the Palestinians, according to the road map, in accordance with the sequence in all of its phases, starting with the implementation of the first phase, which calls for the dismantling of the terrorist organizations," Olmert said. "There can be no short cuts in implementing this process."
The problems with this statement are manifold. First, the 'road map' was off the table, and by reviving it, Olmert is accepting a document that is - particularly without the fourteen revisions demanded by Sharon and ignored by the 'quartet' - inimical to Israel's interests. Second, although Olmert will likely not be Prime Minister nine months from now, any future Prime Minister may find it difficult to ignore agreements and positions taken by Olmert. That's how Netanyahu fell into the 'Why Why Wye' trap in the first place - he said that he could not disavow the 'Oslo accords' that had been adopted by his predecessors (Rabin and Peres) and therefore he was goaded into taking them further. Third, Abu Mazen has already stated, and the rest of the world has already accepted and taken as a given, that Abu Mazen cannot will not disarm the terrorist groups because it would upset 'Palestinian unity.' Accepting the road map will likely mean accepting it with this caveat. Therefore, Olmert's agreeing to pursue the road map at this stage - especially when neither Bush nor Blair demanded it - is a serious mistake.

I could have lived with Olmert saying that he would meet with Abu Mazen at some later stage. The fact that he has agreed to do so without Gilad Shalit being released is probably inconsequential, since both Olmert and Abu Mazen are powerless, and Abu Mazen likely cannot bring about Shalit's release anyway. But agreeing to promote the 'road map' is a serious mistake that may well come back to haunt Israel in the future.

Olmert must go - the sooner the better.


At 6:15 PM, Blogger Kranky (in the civilized world) said...

OT: Saddam and the AP. Have a look at this.

Maybe its time to rethink journalistic access and license. They need to demonstrate that they have earned access by providing fair and unbiased reporting. I cannot see how a spy for Saddam could possibly provide a fair accounting of a situation.

Maybe they need to put their revenues in escrow, and have an independent board decide whether or not they have been biased in their coverage, and release revenue accordingly. Not a political committee, but a place where reports can be challenged by the general public, and if the reports are found to be biased, well, then the revenue for the biased edition would be withheld. It is not censorship to demand accuracy and lack of bias in reporting. If we have to go to that level it tells us something of the media which needs this sort of oversight.

If the news organizations would either police themselves (will never happen) so that they will provide unbiased reportage, then this wouldn't be necessary. They can always stop calling themselves news organizations, and start calling themselves "political (dis)information organs" which is in many cases, exactly what they are.

At 1:48 AM, Blogger Fern Sidman said...



Now that the recent decision has been made to lift the Israeli naval blockade of Lebanon, we can only interpret this move as the final nail in the coffin in the already moribund Israeli strategy concerning the release of the three Israeli kidnapped soldiers. As of now, Hamas and Hezbollah have not released any signs of life from Gilad Shalit, Edud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. If these men are alive, the Israeli government has virtually abandoned them.

It is yet the latest phase in the otherwise abysmally impotent and incompetent policy of the Olmert administration. As we know, the Olmert government failed to formulate a successful military strategy in Lebanon, thereby achieving none of its stated objectives, leaving Israel in the wake of its worst military defeat since the creation of the state. Throughout the war, the Olmert government was riddled with hesitation, confusion and internal strife. More to the point, this military defeat places Israel in even greater danger in the future. Hezbollah and Hamas now can carry on further kidnappings of Israeli soldiers with impunity, while developing the military strength to do even greater damage to Israel. If this time around, the city of Tel Aviv was not the recipient of Katyusha rocket attacks, there is a greater possibility that down the road, more deadly and lethal military hardware will be developed that will indeed wreak great havoc, destruction and devastation. It is only a matter of time.

It is no wonder that there are calls for the immediate resignation of the entire Olmert government. If there has been any unifying factor in Israel as of late, it has been calls from both the far left and right for the Olmert government to resign. Seems like the only one satisfied with Olmert's performance during the war is none other than Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who stated, ""If we have to choose between a foolish prime minister and another who is strong and capable, we prefer that the fool remain,” he told Lebanese Al-Safir newspaper Tuesday. Nasrallah made the comments when asked about the prime minister’s recent claims - themselves based on Nasrallah’s statements - that Israel had won the war. (Arutz Sheva - 9/7/06)

Last night in Tel Aviv over 40,000 Israelis protested against the Olmert government, demanding the formation of a state commission of inquiry of improprieties during the war. This protest was organized by Israeli army reservists who have been continually keeping a political fire under the Olmert government since the cease fire had been announced. They were joined in the outcry against the government by retired Meretz Party chairman Yossi Sarid, senior reserve officers and relatives of soldiers who fell during the war.

Under the banner Movement for Quality Government (MQG), the group is calling for a state commission to examine the government’s actions, while the reservists have been calling for the resignation of the top government officials for their management of the recent war in Lebanon.

According to an Arutz Sheva report of the protest, Eliad Shraga, chairman of the MQG stated, “The Prime Minister must open his eyes and realize that a state commission of inquiry is needed."

Also speaking at the protest were former Defense Minister Moshe Arens of the Likud, retired Meretz Party chairman Yossi Sarid, senior reserves officers and relatives of soldiers who fell during the war.

“It is unacceptable that those under investigation appoint the investigators,” Arens told the crowd. “Only a state commission of inquiry will examine in a thorough manner the decision of the government in the last war in Lebanon. Never have there been such confusing and contradictory orders issued in the handling of a war.”

“If we continue to remain silent, we will be hit with another bomb,” Movement For Quality Government spokesman Shuki Levanon said. He added that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had been invited to the protest, “to declare from this podium that he has heard the will of the people and will establish a state commission – but the chicken didn’t even answer.”

Just last week, in the same location in Tel Aviv, hundreds of thousands of Israelis demanded that the Olmert government secure the release of the three kidnapped soldiers, yet this cry of anguish has fallen on deaf ears. Within days of the protest, the government of Israel issued the order the lift the naval blockade of Lebanon. The government has thus far made no viable attempts to ensure the safe release of the kidnapped soldiers.

It is a government that has abandoned its people and its brothers. It is a government that is immersed in internal corruption, conflict and scandal. It is a government that suffers from a terminal case of inexhaustable loquaciousness, yet takes no actions in protecting its citizens or soldiers.

The demand for the resignation of the Olmert government has also been spotlighted in the Israeli media and the pressure is mounting at a rapid pace. It is time for the world Jewish community to weigh in on this most critical issue. We are a nation without real leadership, during a time when real and authentic leaders are so desperately needed. Leaders who will display the strength and fortitude it takes to devise a concrete plan to bring our kidnapped soldiers home and to deal with terrorism on both fronts with swift and decisive measures. We need leaders who can and will elevate a nation from its collective despair and loss of morale.

Silence on the part of world Jewry at this moment of paramount importance in the history of the Jewish nation is totally unacceptable and is equivalent to blatant apathy and indifference.
While anti-Semitism has reached epidemic proportions throughout the world, since the beginning of the war, particularly in England and Australia, it does not behoove the international Jewish community to remain silent. We are living in precarious times, times that do not bode well for the State of Israel and the Jews worldwide.

The time has come to realize that world Jewry must summon up the strength and courage to seize this moment while it still can. It is time to demand that the leadership of Israel be placed in the hands of those whose platform is the belief in the Almighty G-d of Israel and scrupulous adherence to Torah principles. Without Torah leadership, we are left with a leadership vacuum that can only lead to more destruction and deadly consequences for the future of Israel and the Jewish people.

As we approach the 16th yahrzeit of Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK"L let us take this time to remember his words of wisdom, vision and foresight. It was Rabbi Kahane who said, "The obligation to listen to, obey and respect the authority of government rests upon whether that government, in a particular case, is itself obeying the Torah, the need of the people". (Israel: Revolution or Referendum?, 1990, p.95)

It was Rabbi Kahane who also said, "No government, including the Israeli one, has any right to protest when - because of its failure to carry out its elementary duty to protect its citizens - individual Jews, who fear for their lives and future, rise up and act in self defense". (Israel: Revolution or Referendum?, 1990, p.118)

It is time to heed these words. In this month of Elul, we must seek to become closer to our Creator, to beseech Him to allow us to return to His holy Torah. It is a time to immerse ourselves in fervent prayer, to examine our deeds and misdeeds and to rectify them.It is time to reach out to our brothers in kindness and compassion. It is time to speak out against those in leadership who cannot and will not lead. It is time to demand a return to G-d. This is our only path to salvation as a people and as a nation. Our date of redemption is coming closer as we are in the midst of "Chevlei Moshiach", the birth pangs of our holy Redeemer. Our future is inextricably tied to our efforts to infuse ourselves and our leadership with true Torah values.

May we always remember the words of the sweet singer of Israel, King David who said, "Teach me the way, Oh G-d, that I may walk in Your Truth". (Psalms)


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