Ehud Olmert must be congratulated. It's good that the man who was Israel's prime minister was acquitted of the serious charges leveled against him in the Rishon Tours and Talansky cases. It's good that the man who was Israel's prime minister will not be going to jail. And it's good that he can now fight to prove his innocence in the Holyland and political appointments cases without feeling hounded.
In a country governed by laws, the law is king. In a country governed by laws, the proces-s of law enforcement is the backbone of a free society. When there are well-founded suspicions of a violation of the law by a senior government official, the suspicions must be investigated and there's an obligation to conduct that investigation fairly and proportionally. It's good that there was a legal process in the case of the former prime minister and it's good that this process found him (almost ) innocent.
But the rule of law must not be threatened. The voices being heard since Tuesday morning calling for State Prosecutor Moshe Lador's head are populist and violent demands. The effort to lynch the state prosecution is a dangerous one.
It's possible that those responsible for law enforcement made serious mistakes in the Olmert case. It's possible that there was someone who was too quick or too heavy on the trigger.
But there was no conspiracy here to overthrow the government. There was no putsch by the prosecution. And it wasn't the Dreyfus trial, either.
Slow down, folks. Olmert is a very talented and charismatic man, but he is not a naive nun walking innocently through the forest who was suddenly set upon by the thieves from Salah a-Din Street. He is without a doubt brave, capable and strong. But he has been walking on the edge all his life.
During the election campaign of 2006, the Israeli media was obligated to make the public aware of all of Olmert's virtues and shortcomings, his abilities and his scandals. If after such a transparent process the public would have decided to choose the man and his money, we would have had to honor that choice.
But since in 2006 the Israeli media was enthralled by Kadima, nothing of the kind happened. The scandals burst forth only after Olmert had risen to power and become embroiled in the Second Lebanon War. Thus we were caught up in a chaotic situation in which the prime minister felt, justifiably, that he couldn't govern when his rivals believed, justifiably, that he was trying to prevent the search for the truth and enforcement of the law.
Thus three precious years were wasted on for-or-against Olmert. Three precious years were wasted on a passionate, personal, and cruel witch-hunt, which swept up this writer as well. Instead of rebuilding the nation after a traumatic war, Olmert's supporters and opponents bloodied each other for years. Instead of establishing proper norms of government, we wallowed in criminal proceedings and media rhetoric. We are all responsible.
It's still too early to know what the future holds for the country's 12th prime minister. We still face the question of moral turpitude in the Investment Center case and we have yet to hear the verdicts in other cases.
But it's already clear what conclusion we must reach from the Olmert years to assure our collective future: Stay calm. Don't persecute. Be relevant and not tendentious; distinguish between wheat and chaff. Preserve the government's ability to govern, preserve the legal system's independence and return to sanity.
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