It was only when recently addressing a Jewish gathering abroad that the extent of the shame of the immoral and indecent behavior of our elected leaders fully impacted on me. It all came together like a bad dream as I tried to put a positive gloss on our dismal reality.
Labor and Shas have now again reneged on their undertaking to force our failed and dysfunctional prime minister to go home. Together with Ehud Olmert’s ruling party Kadima, they have once more betrayed their national obligations. By extending the prime minister’s political lease of life by at least another six months after having repeatedly proclaimed that he is incapable of leading the nation, Labor leader Ehud Barak demonstrated that he and Olmert are birds of a feather.
Whereas formerly, even failed leaders were motivated by what they considered to be the national interest, today the pathetic spin merchants are obsessed with the need to retain power and shamelessly promote their personal agendas. They display contempt for the people and remain unconcerned by the long-term damage they inflict.
In the past, Israel was renowned as a nation of courage, determination and sophistication. Deterrence was the hallmark of our defense and our adversaries were highly conscious that they would face swift retribution if they shed innocent Jewish blood. Today, our enemies are aware that empty threats are the order of the day. The impotence of our government was highlighted when it abandoned citizens in the south, transforming many of them into refugees in their own land.
Today, despite having the most powerful army in the region, both Olmert and Barak violated their repeated mantra that “there will be no truce with terrorists” and the numerous pledges extended to the cabinet and to the Schalit family, that no Gaza agreement with Hamas would be consummated without securing Gilad’s freedom. They entered into a truce with a terrorist militia which openly proclaimed that it had no intention of enforcing compliance on other groups. Hamas also made abundantly clear their intention to exploit the lull in order to regroup, obtain more lethal weapons from Iran and renew their attacks on us at a time of their choosing.
After having canvassed the world to reject any relationship with Hamas, we have now provided all countries with a green light to recognize and deal directly with them. That a terrorist militia could impose a military stalemate on us amounts to an even greater national disgrace than our debacle with Hizbullah in Lebanon. The “truce” also contradicts our repeated insistence that appeasing terrorists is a guaranteed prescription for disaster that will embolden jihadists worldwide
Appeasement and unilateral concessions are also underway on the broader diplomatic front. Our prime minister is engaged in secret negotiations behind closed doors in frenetic efforts to reach an accord with his impotent Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas before the end of the year. This is especially bizarre in view of the virtual certainty that the PA will ultimately merge or be taken over by Hamas, who will then reap the benefits of our largesse. What is even more incredible is that the concessions Olmert has offered the Palestinians relating to Jerusalem and other vital national assets have still not been revealed to the cabinet or Knesset.
There are the negotiations with Syria, also initiated by the prime minister without prior Cabinet approval, signaling the Syrians of a willingness to relinquish the Golan. Olmert did so realizing that an accommodation with the Syrians, who are deeply entrenched with the Iranians, is currently virtually impossible. In doing so, we outraged the Americans and rehabilitated Assad, who until now was regarded as an international pariah. The UN representative to Lebanon, Terje Roed Larsen – no friend of Israel – condemned our government for “giving Syria a huge gift without thus far getting anything in return.” To top it off, we are also signaling the reluctant Lebanese that we are willing to cede the Sheba Farms to them despite the fact that hitherto the UN itself rejected Lebanese territorial claims to this highly strategic piece of land, on the grounds that it belonged to Syria.
The prime minister and his spin merchants utterly mishandled the cruel negotiations relating to our missing soldiers. They issued contradictory statements every day, inflicted unbearable pain on the families, undermined the morale of the nation, and provided grist for the propaganda mills of Hizbullah and our enemies.
In parallel to this chaos we have the ongoing flow of irresponsible outbursts by self-promoting ministers. Haim Ramon, a deputy prime minister, wails that the truce is a defeat for Israel. Shaul Mofaz, another deputy prime minister, proclaims that Israel will bomb Iran. Both the foreign affairs minister and the defense minister, directly or implicitly, call on the prime minister to resign because of his immoral behavior. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i tells Sderot citizens to stop moaning about missiles being launched against them. Interior Minister Avi Dichter condemns the government for not taking military action against Hamas. Justice Minister Daniel Freedman describes the truce with Hamas as an act of insanity. This list could be substantially extended and an entire section devoted to the political perfidy and twists and turns of Defense Minister Ehud Barak
And to top it all, our prime minister, under investigation for suspected corruption, refuses to suspend himself and continues making life and death decisions which most people are convinced are products of a mind totally distracted by personal woes. Although Olmert’s days are certainly numbered, one can only shudder at what diplomatic fire sales or other initiatives he may be contemplating in his terminal phase, in order to save himself or create a contrived historical legacy.
Yet the coalition parties and cabinet ministers, most of whom publicly condemn him, lack the courage even to demand accountability and act as though cabinet responsibility had been annulled. They remain glued to their seats, refusing to act, in fear of facing the people’s day of judgment.
The core of the problem rests with Kadima itself, which, from day one – with a few notable exceptions – comprised a m�lange of frustrated politicians with diverse viewpoints, united only in seeking to promote their personal interests. They embraced a pseudo secular messianic belief that Ariel Sharon would somehow achieve miracles. But the personality cult disintegrated when Sharon’s questionable private activities were exposed, and the repercussions of the disastrous Gaza unilateral disengagement which set the scene for the current malaise could no longer be concealed.
Kadima will be remembered for having eroded the core values of Zionism. It initiated spurious policies of unilateral concessions, appeasement and a reluctance to exercise deterrence and military strength. History will record the Kadima era as comparable to that of Neville Chamberlain’s policies of appeasement, which led to the lights going out all over Europe.
The ongoing failure of all the coalition parties to impel Olmert to go is monstrous. They will go down in history as disgraced opportunists willing to sacrifice the welfare of the nation for their own selfish pursuits.
The people are enraged and frustrated. The massive demonstrations organized after the Lebanon War calling on the government, especially the prime minister, to stand down were contemptuously ignored. Most now believe that protesting will achieve nothing.
Throughout this entire unhappy period, our nation has displayed courage and resilience. Under a new leadership, they will again rise to the occasion. The IDF is in good hands and has been dramatically upgraded. When authorized by a new government to employ genuine deterrence, it could transform the entire situation overnight.
So would an electoral system that could put an end once and for all to the horse trading which has become the hallmark of our present degraded Knesset.
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