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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Some dare call it 'conspiracy'

As I noted last night, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was shouted down last night at a 'rally' in Tel Aviv. One of the 'hecklers' was interviewed on the 11:00 news last night, and gave some idea as to what was behind their actions. You see, Olmert was trying to speak at a so-called "Haramat Kosit," a toast that is a tradition at many workplaces and all political parties before Rosh HaShanna. This bereaved father - his son was killed in Lebanon - said that if the Kadima Achora party had held a modest Haramat Kosit for its MK's, no one would have said anything. But to make a gaudy Haramat Kosit for an intimate gathering of 3000 in the Tel Aviv fairgrounds when the families of the dead in Lebanon were just finishing their Shloshim was in poor taste.

[A quick explanation of Shloshim is in order. Having just been through this a year ago, I think I have it down pat. Jewish mourning - one generally mourns R"L (God save us) for a parent, a spouse, a sibling and a child - is split into four periods. In the pre-burial period, known as Onein, one is generally freed from all positive commandments, and no one is even allowed to console you. We do not drink wine or eat meat during that period. The Shiva period - with which many of you are probably familiar - typically lasts into the seventh day that follows the burial. During that time, one does not leave the house except on the Sabbath, one sits on a low stool or on the floor, and friends come to the house to console you. The Shloshim period typically lasts until the end of the 30th day from the date of death. Generally, we don't go to parties or celebrations, hear music, take hot showers (except on the eve of the Sabbath), shave, take haircuts, cut nails etc. (All of these restrictions and more apply during the Shiva period as well). Finally, when one is mourning for a parent, some of the Shloshim restrictions are extended for a full twelve months out of respect for the parent, and one says the Kaddish prayer every day for eleven months. So saying that these people are in the last day of their Shloshim means that it's the end of the mourning period, and it would not be considered appropriate to immediately run out and have a party. CiJ]

Mr. Olmert has a different explanation for what happened last night. He is calling it a "right wing conspiracy."
Olmert's associates accused the protesters of being part of a right-wing conspiracy against the prime minister. They noted that the reservist movement is advised by Spin, the same public relations firm that ran the settlers' campaign against disengagement. [I think that's an effort at guilt by association. CiJ]

"We know who sent them and who is advising them," an Olmert associate said. "The unruly bullying and disgusting heckling of the prime minister reveals the true face and the blatantly political intentions of the people calling upon him to quit. Whoever calls the prime minister a murderer loses his legitimacy and becomes part of the extremist fringes of Israeli society."

The reservists fought back, rejecting ties with the extreme right and accusing Olmert of trying to mislead the public with personal attacks on them instead of addressing their charges about his handling of the war in Lebanon.

"The prime minister is under pressure," said Assaf Levine, a partner in Spin and a strategist for the reservists. "He is doing everything to avoid a state commission of inquiry and prevent the truth from coming out. He started by forming fake inquiry committees and now these wild charges."

Dozens of reservists and protesters demonstrated in the exit from the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds holding torches and banners calling for Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Halutz to resign.
Some people in Kadima Achora even make the suggestion that ultimately, it could help Olmert to be heckled:
Kadima activists formerly active in the Likud suggested that the heckling could end up helping Olmert the way hecklers in the Likud central committee boosted former prime minister Ariel Sharon. Some even questioned whether Olmert might have staged the heckling to aid his own popularity in the general public. They noted that security was less vigilant at the fairgrounds than it normally is at events attended by the prime minister. [Didn't I say that last night? I said: "You expect me to believe that all those people got past the tough Israeli security?" CiJ].

A Kadima spokesman said 3,400 Kadima supporters attended the event. But busloads of elderly Russian immigrants, who came from Pardess Hanna and said they knew little about Kadima, filled a section of the hall and left during Olmert's speech because their bus was leaving.
And what can you say about a politician who jumps onto a sinking ship?
Prior to the uproar, Alfei Menashe Mayor Eliezer Hisdai addressed the crowd and announced that he had joined Kadima. Hisdai belonged to the Likud and ran on its list for the Knesset. He campaigned against the Gaza Strip withdrawal and opposed Olmert's West Bank realignment plan.

"I hope I found my home in Kadima," Hisdai said. "I don't know too many people who would go to war the way the prime minister did. When he abandoned the realignment plan, I saw that the party is able to face reality and change and I wanted to be a part of it."
Does this guy read the papers? (Yes, Alfei Menashe is over the green line but within the 'security fence' but his reasoning is simply laughable. Olmert is still trying to give the country away!)

But the game may be over for Olmert really soon. Since tomorrow is the eve of Rosh HaShanna, the new poll numbers came out today. Olmert is in bad shape....
One poll conducted by Dahaf and published in Yediot Ahronot found that only 7% said that the prime minister was the most worthy figure to head the government.

Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu lead the pack, with a 27% approval rating, followed by Avigdor Liberman with 15%, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who received 14%, Vice Premier Shimon Peres 12%, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz 5% and former prime minister Ehud Barak with only 3% of the vote. Closing the list is Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who until not long ago had aspirations to become premier, but now has to settle for only a 1% approval rating.

The Dahaf poll of 499 people had margin of error of 4.5%.

Another poll conducted by Dialog and Haaretz found that nearly seven out of 10 people were dissatisfied with Olmert's performance.

68 percent of those interviewed were unhappy with Olmert's performance, compared to 40 percent in a poll on August 11 - days before a cease-fire was declared.

The poll also found that if an election were held today, Netanyahu's Likud party would win 24 of 120 parliament seats, compared to just 16 for Kadima, which currently holds 29 seats.
Kadima Achora and Labor are mulling over a 'long-term coalition arrangement'. If I'm a Labor MK, I have to be asking why (and Amir Comrade Peretz is). If there's an election now, Labor would become the opposition leader, but at least it would survive.

The clock is already ticking on Kadima Achora. Here's my prediction: the party will not exist in the next Knesset. The real question is whether its MK's will latch on elsewhere, or will they go the way of Yitzchak Mordechai and Dan Meridor, who have not been heard from since the 'Center Party' collapsed.


At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl, did you see the latest article at Debka? If they are correct, Olmert is way beyound gonner.

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

I'm still waiting to see whether anyone picks up on the title of this post. That's the only hint you're getting....

At 4:03 PM, Blogger YMedad said...

Funny. Spin is run by a former Meretz activist and one of my complaints when he got the portfolio of the Yesha Council was that he was Left.


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