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Friday, March 20, 2009

Olmert's 'legacy'

Under the question "Can Israel still be saved?" David Hornik reviews the miserable 'legacy' of the Olmert government. As Olmert leaves office (in two weeks thanks to Netanyahu getting an extension to form a new government earlier today), we find ourselves with a resurgent Hezbullah and an unbowed Hamas pointing 50,000 rockets at us, the World convinced that the 'Palestinian Authority' is ready to live in peace and tranquility with us despite its continuing glorification of terrorists, and Iran counting the days until it is ready to eviscerate us (God forbid) with nuclear weapons. Here's Hornik's bottom line:
Apart from specific blunders like initially appointing an incompetent defense minister, or reacting impulsively to both Hezbollah and Hamas provocations without formulating clear goals or planning for contingencies, the Olmert government’s record of failure stems from a belief, now prevalent in the Israeli elite, that fighting—or at least defeating—one’s enemies is passé and instead Israel can rely on a benign and impartial Western world to extricate it from its problems. Thanks to the depredations wrought by this mindset over the past 16 years, the real nature of what faces the new Netanyahu government is that of a rescue mission—against, unfortunately, considerable odds.
I'd like to expand on Hornik's analysis.

Most Israelis believe (and perhaps the fact that most Israelis believe it is our only consolation) that the IDF could and should have wiped out Hamas in Gaza in January. Here's how Hornik summarized Olmert's failure to do so:
But, whatever the reasons, it marks an ignominious end for a government trying to salvage something from three years of failures and fiascos and, specifically in this case, from its Gaza campaign that ended in mid-January. For the bitter fact is that at that time, the Israeli army had the upper hand in Gaza and presumably—especially given the many intelligence feats during the war—had access, or at least potential access, to Shalit.

Instead of pressing the advantage, though, Olmert, fearful of frictions with the incoming Obama administration, decided to end the war and withdraw the IDF. The short time since then has already seen the frittering away of the war’s achievements as both rocket attacks and arms smuggling have resumed.

On the Shalit issue, however, Olmert believed that Hamas—apprehensive of the incoming Netanyahu government—would also, for its part, be anxious to get the best deal still available. So Olmert set out to obtain, as a sort of last legacy, another of the grossly lopsided, severely harmful exchanges that various Israeli leaders have succumbed to over the past few decades.

Apart from the compassion that all loyal Israelis feel toward Shalit and his family, rationally speaking one has to be relieved that the attempt failed.
Hornik could have added another factor here. The Gaza campaign was split into three phases: The first phase was the air war, the second phase was the ground troops entering Gaza and taking up positions and the third phase was the ground troops entering into the cramped neighborhoods of Gaza City and Beit Lahiya and Rafah, and actually going house to house conquering positions and uprooting Hamas. Think of a whole lot 2002 Jenin's. Olmert didn't believe he had the political support to withstand the ensuing casualties. And he may not have had the support. But on the other hand, Olmert also knew that he was finished as Prime Minister after the elections so it's a risk he could have taken with no political consequences to himself. Instead, Olmert and others in his mindset have convinced themselves that the rest of the country has the same defeatist attitudes that they have. (For those who have not done so already, please read this. It's an interview with Israel's two most recent Nobel prize winners - Yisrael Aumann and Aharon Ciechenhower - one religious and the other secular - in which they decry what the country's 'leadership' has done to its psyche since the Oslo Declaration of Principles in 1993. It's must reading to understand what is going on in this country).

As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his first inauguration speech in 1933, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Olmert and those like him have sapped away Israel's moral energy and courage over the last sixteen years. They have convinced us that we cannot win wars more than that winning wars is passe. They have pounded it into our heads that there is 'no military answer to terror' without even trying to provide a military answer. As part of their campaign to emasculate our moral backbone, they have made their number one goal the creation of a 'Palestinian' state reichlet in our midst and they have convinced the Western powers that Israel cannot survive as a democratic Jewish state without such a reichlet sharing this small chunk of land. In doing so, they have undermined the very existence of the Jewish state.

And for that they deserve our utter contempt.


At 4:27 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Agreed, Carl. Ehud Olmert and most of the Israeli elite suffer from a lack of Jewish vision, moral stamina and perseverance. Without those qualities imbued in a Jewish statesman, Israel will perish from that corner of the world. If Israel is to ever to die, I do not believe it will be due to being conquered by her external enemies. Ever. It will be by her own hand - only the Jewish people themselves can be the author of their own destruction.

The Olmert Era and the interview you referred to which I posted an updated review of the past three years has revealed Israel's terrible flaw and also showed the only thing that can save the country - a renewed commitment to Jewish identity. That is the entire basis to having a Jewish State and the sole justification for why Jews deserve to be in the country. Its not really a debate about personalities, its really a debate about Israel's values.

Moshe Feiglin made the point this morning and his article, if you happened to miss it, is posted here:

Zero Sum Game

The conclusion, I think shows the way out of the dead-end of the post-Zionist Era Israel has grappled with for the past 16 years.

To implement the will of the Jewish majority as expressed in these elections, Israel must change its mindset from mere existential Zionism to Zionism of destiny; a Zionism that derives from Israel's Jewish identity.

Its going to take a major transformation in outlook to give the Jewish State a renewed lease on life. Let's all pray for that to happen, G-d willing!


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