Monday, August 04, 2008

A few belated comments on Olmert's non-resignation speech.

First, why was this speech necessary at this time? The deadline for declaring candidacy in the upcoming Kadima primary was fast approaching and, in any event, Olmert had to announce that he did not intend to run. That explains the timing. What he achieved is this: Olmert knows that an indictment is inevitable. He also knows that AG Mazuz is justifiably not eager to serve an indictment while Olmert is a sitting Prime Minister. Thus, Mazuz is likely to delay an indictment so long as he can believe that Olmert is going to resign soon anyway.

But, if no indictment is served, Olmert isn't going anywhere very soon. Let me explain why.

There are three possibilities for what happens after Kadima primaries.

One is that the winner -- Livni (according to the polls) or Mofaz (according to the insiders) -- is able to hold the coalition together or to quickly form an alternative coalition. This appears unlikely, since when Shas smells an election they swing rightward in order to be in position to do what they do best: steal votes from the right and give them to the left.

The second possibility is that, as Haim Ramon has already suggested, Olmert hangs on as PM in order to give the new Kadima head a "chance to form a stable coalition". This could take an awfully long time.

The third possibility is that Olmert actually does resign but no alternative candidate can form a coalition. The president can give a candidate up to 42 days to form a coalition and, if that fails, can give another candidate another 42 days. Lather, rinse, repeat until doomsday. All the while, Olmert is caretaker PM. And even when there are no more candidates or the Knesset votes to disperse itself, Olmert still has 90 more days in which to create a legacy of some sort, God help us. (Who can blame him? Without drastic action, he is doomed to be a latter-day Jimmy "what were we smoking when we elected that guy?" Carter.)

Finally, one comment on Olmert's speech. The great tragedy of the speech is that Olmert's whine about being driven out of office by the justice system without benefit of due process is actually true. Many months ago (pre-Talansky) a former Justice Minister told me that the justice system will not allow Olmert another term. Period. He said this with neither rancor nor approval, just as a fact of Israeli life: if the justice system doesn't like someone, they get rid of them. And the justice system didn't like Olmert because his Justice Minister, Daniel Friedmann, had the temerity to speak Truth to Power (pardon the bombast, but I'm making a point here about where the truth is and where the power is).

But, how seriously are you going to take a guy who, one paragraph earlier, can declare without blushing that "Israel's deterrent capability has improved beyond recognition"?

It's a cliche that "the fact that you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you". But with regard to Olmert, we can safely say that "the fact that they're out to get you doesn't mean you're not a crook".


Anonymous bar_kochba132 said...

Ben-as you stated:
It's a cliche that "the fact that you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you". But with regard to Olmert, we can safely say that "the fact that they're out to get you doesn't mean you're not a crook".

In other words, the "rule-of-law-mafia's instructions were "get something on him". Or as an NKVD man said during the time of Stalin's terror: "you give me the man, I'll give you the charges".
This is as they did to Aharon Abuhatzeira, Rav Uzi Meshullam, Yitzhak Rabin in 1977 (when Peres wanted his job), Ezer Weizman in 2000 (when Peres wanted his job), Moshe Katsav in 2007 (when Peres wanted his job), Yitzhak Mordechai (I never figured out why they wanted to destroy him, maybe they thought he was a Sefardi too big for his britches), Aryeh Deri, Haim Ramon (who although a member of the right camp, opposed Dorit Beinish) or Omri Sharon (to encourage papa to destroy Gush Katif). This was also done to Ofer Nimrodi (who was socked in the wiretapping case, which his competitors also were up to their ears in, but they, alas, were Ashkenazim). Again, this is not to say they weren't guilty of some offense, but "pursuit of justice" is not the reason this mafia goes after people..they do it for reasons of political harrassment. They have no problem overlooking crimes when people like Barak, Boozhie Herzog or others too numerous to mention commit them, if they are a member of the "right party" or political elite.

I find it interesting that you attribute the lynch to his appointment of Friedman, I also thought of this, but how could someone as savvy as Olmert fall so easily into their trap?

I am pretty sure they will do the same to Netanyahu should he become PM. He was a big womanizer in the past, and even if he has been behaving himself since the David Levy-tape scandal over 12 years ago, they can probably get some bimbo out of his past to accuse him of something....remember it doesn't have to be true, all they have to do is get her to make the charges on TV, just like "Aleph" did to Katsav. So given this fact, Bibi would then be over a barrel and in a good position to destroy settlements or otherwise attack the religious Right as Sharon did, and as only the Likud can do effectively.

Tell me, what is the point of voting?

6:51 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Everybody is vulnerable, not just Bibi. And, in fact, Bibi is less vulnerable than most, since in his case everybody knows they're out to get him and they've already thrown their best at him.

The point of voting is to defeat the oligarchy, which -- if we are persistent -- will happen one day. The price of despair is the future of the State. Is that a price you're willing to pay?

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a video of the Young Israel's visit to Rubashkin's plant:

Is it just me, or is there something very propoganda-like about this whole Young Israel tour - do they get anything out of this?

11:25 PM  
Anonymous bar_kochba132 said...

I would like to clarify your position. Is it correct to say that you support electing a Likud-led gov't headed by Netanyahu and you believe that such a government will attempt to weaken the hold the oligarchs have on Israeli society and carry out real reforms to strengthen democracy? And that you don't believe the nightmare scenario I outlined above is realistic?

2:33 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

It's not quite fair to ask for a yes or no to a compound question. So to break it up, yes, I think Bibi/Likud is sufficiently better than the current alternatives to merit making the effort to vote for them. No, I don't think Bibi regards defeating the oligarchy as his highest priority and yes, your nightmare scenario is realistic. But, when you have a government that at least wants to defeat the oligarchy, even if it believes that it can't afford to actually do so, incremental changes are possible that slowly shift the momentum.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Ben Bayit said...

I don't believe that defeating the Oligarchy is on Bibi's agenda at all. Especially if he's bringing in people like Dan Meridor and Uzi Dayan - who while "honest" (as Amnon Lord put it in one his stump columns for Bibi) certainly adore the L&O oligarchy and in the case of Meridor helped build up their power and have strong ties to it.

I also think that Bibi will "abandon" Amnon Lord if elected and Lord starts pushing for changes to the "rule of law" crowd (which he does advocate for and still gives Feiglin a platform to advocate for as well). Much as he "abandoned" Yoram Hazony and other pre-election advisers and supporters in 1996. In that respect Olmert is a much better person than Bibi is in that at least he stuck by most of his long-term friends. Bibi has no long-term friends.

Not voting - or urging a boycott of the elections - need not be done out of despair. The idea that a particular action or course of action - such as civil disobedience - will lead to anarchy and/or the destruction of the State is largely unfounded (see Hemi Ben-Noon's book in Hebrew on Civil Disobedience for more on this). A boycott can be a very effective tool for creating a grass-roots movement for electoral and constitutional change - which is probably the only thing that will save the State of Israel as the State by, for and of the Jewish People. It will be long gone as such if we leave it up to the electoral system. I told you last term that Michael Klein would not get a constitution passed, and I also told you at the beginning of this term, that Ben-Sassoon would not pass one either. I can already predict that whoever sits as head of the Constitution, Law and Justice committee of the next Knesset will also NOT get a constitution passed - and probably not too many changes to Basic Laws either. It's already a systemic issue.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous bar_kochba132 said...

Could you please elaborate on your views here? I greatly value your opinion because you know people in the Establishment. The reason I am skeptical that the Likud wants to reform anything is that they have proven not to be out to challenge the Oligarchs, but rather, to be accepted by them. We must recall the 2/3 of the Likud Knesset members supported destroying Gush Katif, in defiance of their own campaign promises and the Likud membership referendum. Tzippi Livni and many (most?) of the Kadima people who came out of the Likud, now support giving up Jerusalem and withdrawing more or less to the pre-67 lines. Wouldn't you say that that is a massive shift of opinion in a lot of people in just 3 years, or proof that they were all political nihilists that joined the Likud because they could get seats there? Are Bibi, Steve Shalom and Limor Livnat any different, simply because Sharon probably didn't want them in Kadima?

6:12 PM  
Blogger Saul Lieberman said...

Re "Israel's deterrent capability" -- this just in from today's Haaretz and "One More Word" (cf Jackie Mason):

Israel warns Hezbollah: We won't tolerate arms smuggling

During a meeting Wednesday of the political-security cabinet on Hezbollah, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said "Israel will not acquiesce to the continued smuggling of arms."


The cabinet agreed that Israel could not reconcile with the transfer of advanced systems and said the entry of such weapons into Lebanon must be stopped.

In recent weeks, Israel has applied heavy pressure on a number of world leaders, foreign ministers and UN Secretary General Ban, asking they intervene to prevent the arms smuggling into Lebanon through Syria.

Intensive diplomatic efforts were made to prevent the transfer of the arms from Syria to Hezbollah, including "quiet" messages to a number of governments and to the UN, where Israel made it clear it would not accept the transfer of anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah.

Israel has warned that any such transfers would be perceived in Jerusalem as "a violation of the strategic balance" in the region.

In response to the Israeli signals, a number of international diplomats conveyed to Syria warnings against the transfers to Hezbollah.

1:49 PM  

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