Wednesday, February 06, 2008

In my last post, I summarized the report. Now I want to add some commentary (especially in light of Yehezkel Dror's comments quoted in the press today).

The salient feature of the report is its bloodlessness. This was a report that cited the profoundest imaginable failures of leadership, yet couldn't possibly bring 100,000 -- or even 1,000 -- protesters to the Knesset. If it's blood you're after, you didn't get it. It won't bring down Olmert, at least not in the short run. Should we be disappointed?

To be sure, Olmert is a disaster. He is a fraud. Unlike some commenters, I don't buy into the argument that we are better off with a weak left-wing governments than a weak right-wing government; that's too clever by half. I want Olmert and the rest of his hacks to go. But still, I believe the Winograd Commission did us a great service. By focusing on the systemic flaws rather than on personal flaws, it left open the (small) possibility of some systemic changes actually being made.

Moreover, and this is the key point, the report serves as a model of precisely the kind of self-restraint that is so missing in Israeli politics. These commissions are just another way for judicial oligarchs to supervise the government. This report showed that a serious committee can do its job and let the public decide without being infantilized. In the long run, if it raises the level of political discourse, this self-restraint will serve us better than a quick kill. (And, yes, I know that in the long run we'll all be dead.)

As for Dror, forgive me for saying the unpopular thing, but he's right. He was asked whether the public should react to the report by dumping Olmert and he responded by saying that there are many considerations to take into account when making such a decision. I, for one, would be in favor of dumping Olmert, even if the report had declared him the greatest statesman since Thomas Jefferson.

Dror is a loose cannon and he is known for shooting off his mouth without considering the possible consequences. His remarks didn't suggest that the committee did consider or should have considered Olmert's politics in reaching its conclusions (which would have been scandalous); he merely said that now there could be overriding considerations in deciding what to do about the report. A dumb thing for a person in his shoes to say, but absolutely correct.


Anonymous bar_kochba132 said...

BC-could you give us your reasoning as to why you still believe that a "right-wing" gov't is preferable to a weak left-wing one, in the light of history of these types of coalitions since 1993? I would be interested in your thoughts because my inclination now is not to vote in the next election, not because of some sort of Satmarish opposition in principle to voting in the "Zionist" elections, but rather I can not bring myself to vote for Left-wing parties and my votes in the past for "lesser-of-two-evils" right-wing parties has ended up bringer the "greater-of-two-evils".

BTW-I do agree that it was not within Winograd's mandate to force out elected officials, it is up to the political process to do that.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Briefly, because, even if I grant you the soundness of your argument from recent history (which I don't), the small sample size is insufficient to persuade me to abandon common sense.

Also, to the extent that right-wingers tend to cave, this is a function of the systemic advantage the left has. The key is to eliminate this systemic advantage. On this point, I know from first-hand knowledge that the right will attempt to do this and the left will do anything to prevent it.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Ben Bayit said...

I have to disagree. The foundations of the "judicial oligarchy" were largely set under Likud administrations - and sepcifically during Dan Meridor's term as Justice Minister. (And, as it happens to be, the foundations of the Lebanon fiasco were also largely set in his term as head of vaadat chutz ubitachon and as minister w/o portfolio under Sharon when he was charged with "updating" Israel's security doctrine).
Bibi will bring back Meridor. They won't do anything to try and change the system.

Frankly if the choice is a weak (kneed) Bibi who brings back Dan Meridor, or a weak Olmert with Daniel Friedman still ruffling everyone's feathers, the choice is obvious. Olmert should stick around a while longer.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

If Bibi brings back Meridor, I will concede your point.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous bar_kochba132 said...

I should point out that Bibi has already brought back Yossi Peled, so that may be an indication of they way he is going. For those who have forgotten, Peled was another one of the those failed IDF Generals that went into politics. He was brought by Bibi into the Likud in the 1990's. During Bibi's term, Peled was given a better offer by Barak leading Peled to say something to the effect that having Bibi as Prime Minister was a danger to the very existence of the state. Barak prominently displayed Peled as one of his phalanx of "security expert" Generals who then led to the Lebanon withdrawal fiasco and the beginning of Arafat's terror war. Now, Bibi has brought him back. When asked about his statement that Bibi is a threat to the existence of the state, Peled replied "he's changed". When asked how he can keep jumping between Labor and Likud he said "there is no difference between them". Out of the mouths of babes......

2:38 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

> When asked how he can keep jumping between Labor and Likud he said "there is no difference between them"

Rav Meir Kahane hy"d already asserted this point 30 years ago.

7:48 PM  

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