Sunday, March 26, 2023 -
Print Edition

Ehud Olmert never got it

In the announcement of his pending resignation, Israel Prime minister Ehud Olmert blamed everybody but himself. Where he succeeded, the credit goes to him and his colleagues. Where he failed, he takes no responsibility. That, in a nutshell, sums up the stewardship of arguably the worst prime minister Israel has ever had.

To be sure, Olmert has his achievements. He wisely put an end to the Ethiopian aliyah when it became clear that not Jews, but others in Ethiopia were demanding automatic citizenship in Israel. Olmert launched a war against Hezbollah, and though the war was conducted badly, its deterrent effect severely hurt Hezbollah. Olmert began a serious program to rebuild the IDF. Olmert guided the Israeli economy to new heights. The shekel is stronger against the dollar than at any time in history. Israeli high-tech exports — and Israel’s attractiveness to foreign investors — are likewise at an all time high.

Even in the economic sphere, however, Olmert has major blind spots. For example, poverty is rampant in Israel, and he has done little but acknowledge the problem — and from there, it’s all downhill.

  • Corruption. Olmert was the opposite of rectitude. Even if he technically broke no laws — and this remains to be seen — he set a terrible example for a prime minister of a Jewish state. He blamed others for investigating him, utterly oblivious to all of his actions that gave more than ample reason for the investigations. And these are but trivialities in the scope of his failures.
  • Security. Olmert does not demand a change in mindset from his enemies, yet is ready to compromise Israel’s security by ceding vital, strategic, territorial assets. He is prepared to accept Palestinian and Syrian rejection of a Jewish state, just so long as they forswear violence against Israel. And that’s it: all they need to do is to promise. They collect territory — such as part of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights — and offer nothing strategic in return. All this, as we say, without even having to accept a Jewish state in principle. This recipe for future hostilities Olmert calls peace.
  • Internal cohesion. Olmert still has not resettled most of the Jews expelled from the Gaza strip, ironically undermining his own credibility in arguing for future Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank.
  • Fallacious values. Olmert manufactured out of whole cloth a supposed Jewish value to do absolutely anything — including the release of terrorists with blood on their hands — to secure the return of dead Israeli soldiers.

Mr. Prime Minister, do us and yourself a favor. Resign now.

Leave a Reply