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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 4, 2008 / 28 Shevat 5768

The Olmert Omerta

By Yossi Klein Halevi


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The survival of Israel's inept and arrogant prime minister may have devastating consequences for Israeli society


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The good news about Ehud Olmert is that he is not a willful murderer of Israeli soldiers. The bad news is that he is the most inept and arrogant Israeli prime minister in the country's history.


While the Winograd Commission investigating the Second Lebanon War has absolved Olmert of the worst accusation ever made against an Israeli prime minister — that he sent 33 soldiers to their deaths on a useless mission, whose only purpose was to bolster his image as a tough leader — the commission did confirm what the Israeli public has sensed since August 2006: that the Lebanon War was the worst military defeat in Israel's history, that the IDF missed an unprecedented opportunity to restore calm to Israel's borders and restore its shattered deterrence, and that Olmert's judgment was flawed at every crucial step.


Throngs of bereaved parents and reservist officers from the Lebanon war have been camped outside Olmert's office for the past few days. Despite their demands for Olmert's ouster in accountability for his failed leadership last summer, the prime minister will probably survive. Having been absolved of the most sensational accusation, the commission's indictment of Olmert's leadership comes as an anti-climax — especially given the fact that the commission's interim report, released nine months ago, already went public with that same conclusion. His continued political survival, however, could do irreparable damage toward the already weakened the bonds of trust that Israeli citizens have with their government.


Until Olmert's election, every Israeli prime minister could lay claim to the Zionist ethos of heroism. Israel's leaders were divided into two groups: the European-born founders like David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, and Menachem Begin who embodied self-sacrifice, and the native-born sabras like Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Barak who boasted first-rate military careers. Even Benjamin Netanyahu, the only one of the sabra prime ministers who didn't rise to the top of the security establishment, was an officer in Israel's most elite commando unit; his brother, Yoni, the fallen hero of the Entebbe rescue mission in 1976, added an heroic aura to the Netanyahu family.


Olmert, neither founder nor hero, is the first professional politician to serve as prime minister. Yet, in resisting calls for his resignation, he is insisting on being absolved of the standards for personal accountability in war to which other prime ministers were held. Golda Meir and her defense minister, Moshe Dayan, were forced from office by an outraged public because of failure in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, while Menachem Begin and his defense minister, Ariel Sharon, were compelled to resign because of failure in the first Lebanon War in 1982. Olmert, though, sees himself as immune from such archaic values as personal responsibility. Even before the release of the final version of the Winograd report, Olmert had announced that he wouldn't resign no matter what the commission concluded.


Olmert's fatal flaw, and the source of his failure in Lebanon, is arrogance. No Israeli leader ever decided to go to war faster than Olmert did — in a matter of hours. And no Israeli leader was worse prepared: Not only did Olmert have no security expertise, but neither did his defense minister. The one member of his cabinet with top military credentials — former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz — was serving as transportation minister, and Olmert didn't include him in his inner circle. Olmert failed to establish clear goals for Israel's counter-attack or to inquire whether the IDF had alternative plans. Olmert's policy was, in effect: Let's go to war and see what happens.


Israelis, who are repeatedly called upon to defend their country, have to trust their leaders' integrity. Even if Olmert has been vindicated of the accusation that he sacrificed 33 soldiers for personal gain, he remains the first Israeli prime minister widely perceived to place his own interests above those of the nation. Olmert still faces nearly a half-dozen criminal investigations and, according to a recent poll, is seen by Israelis as the country's most corrupt leader, a clever lawyer who's managed to keep one step ahead of the law. That perception could undermine morale in wartime. Israelis may well ask whether a leader who failed so miserably in war and then refused to take personal responsibility for that failure has the right to send their sons into war again.


Olmert's political longevity will also have devastating consequences for his political party, Kadima, the first centrist party to form a government. In linking the center to his own persona, Olmert will drive many Kadima voters back to the right or the left. Olmert's failure is ideological, too. The hope of Kadima was to free Israeli politics from the contest between two equally non-viable alternatives: "greater Israel" of the right, "peace now" of the left. Yet Kadima under Olmert has failed to articulate a coherent centrist position, especially after the collapse of the unilateral withdrawal option following the withdrawal from Gaza, which has resulted in daily rocket attacks on Israeli towns in the south. The result is that the next election may well be a contest between Likud and Labor, back to the old mode of left versus right.


With Gaza burning and Iran approaching the nuclear threshold, Olmert will continue to be preoccupied with political survival, in the face of both ongoing corruption investigations and coalition unrest. In allowing Olmert to once again remain one step ahead of the law, the Winograd commission committed the same mistake it attributed to the prime minister's conduct during the Lebanon War: missing an opportunity to extract Israel from danger.


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Yossi Klein Halevi is a contributing editor to The New Republic, from which this appears, and a senior fellow at the Adelson Center for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. Comment by clicking here.

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