Ehud Olmert is not just another suspect in a long line of politicians, but to a large extent the person who symbolizes the entire system.
Ehud Olmert is not just another suspect in a long line of politicians, but to a large extent the person who symbolizes the entire system. In the Olmert school of politics, one can learn how to connect with the wealthy members of world Jewry, how to get them to support the party the candidate is representing at any given moment, how to operate on the borderline of the law (mainly through emissaries), how to cultivate supporters, admirers and associates, how to attack critics maliciously, how to take loans without a repayment date, how to bring past donors into future economic projects, and how to survive for 35 years without a criminal conviction even as one's partners are going down one after the other.
Olmert served as treasurer in one Likud election campaign, during which he signed a fraudulent statement to the state comptroller while a fake donation collection fund was being administered under his nose that gave donors fictitious tax receipts. But he nonetheless managed to get acquitted while all the others involved were convicted. Olmert convinced Judge Oded Mudrik that he didn't know anything about it, relied on others and believed that they were acting legally.
Olmert has a similar line of defense in the current investigation. Moshe (Morris) Talansky brought the donations, attorney Uri Messer was supposed to worry about the propriety of receiving the funds, and Shula Zaken coordinated the meetings - all of them did indeed work at his behest and for him, but he did not know. Now they must decide whether to go down with him, without him or instead of him.
Olmert first became a Knesset member in 1973, when he was a run-of-the-mill salaried civil servant, at which point the gap between his income and lifestyle increased. When he entered the Knesset, Olmert founded a law firm in which he knew how to integrate his clients' interests with his parliamentary activities. In 1984 a law was passed prohibiting MKs from having another job while serving in the Knesset, and his partners took over the firm, continuing to benefit from his connections. This walking on the edge has succeeded to this day, but never before did it seem like Olmert's hard core of close loyalists was collapsing.
Even before Talansky, Zaken and Messer were questioned, the wall was breached when the prosecution decided to indict Abraham Hirchson, one of Olmert's closest associates and a whiz himself at fundraising and enjoying life.
This is not how politics should be conducted, and if Olmert says there is no choice but to raise money from the wealthy, he will be doing an injustice to other politicians - those that are no less talented, but far more honest and modest, who make do with party funds. The law designates what is permissible and what is forbidden in relation to raising funds in Israel and abroad, and the manipulators and those who walk on the edge interpret the law and bend it to their needs, laughing in the face of those who keep the law.
Therefore, even if Olmert says over and over again "It wasn't me" - that it's the system, the reality, the associates, the partners, the faithful, the donors, the friends, the zealous journalists, the competitors, the right wing, that everyone is guilty and only I was taking care of the future of the country - then he will be doing an injustice to the truth. Olmert represents a losing system that may finally pass from politics after more and more people of his ilk are brought to justice.