On Friday I was invited to lecture at the Open University. At the end of the lecture, concerned citizens approached me and asked me to comfort them. This has happened to me more frequently of late, and not always do I have words of encouragement. This time I did. Read the Saturday papers, I said. Read all the interviews with Ehud Olmert and you'll realize that Israel never had it better than Passover 5767.
Who does not like Jewish holidays, especially the ones that exude a springtime fragrance of renewal? Just one thing casts a pall over the season: the traditional holiday interviews without which no Passover ceremony is complete, and which, if passed over, constitute dereliction of duty.
There is no media outlet into which Olmert has not poured his holiday musings. The same questions, the same answers-without-answering on Internet news sites and on television, and we still have various radio interviews ahead of us today and tomorrow. Never have so many interviewers gone to one interviewee to hear so little.
Still, one headline can be gleaned from the sea of words: "In five years there will be peace in the region," the interviewee stated. And yet, no one asked the $100,000 question: Why five years and not 50 or 500 years - and what is the basis for this forecast? It can only mean Olmert is entrusting the making of peace to those who come after him. His is not the work to complete, because he has not yet begun it, and time is short. Five years are certainly an optimistic evaluation, considering the Israeli response to the Riyadh conference - stumbling, mumbling and somnolence.
The Ma'ariv Web site nrg actually managed to salvage an interesting comment from Olmert: "Tzipi Livni is also responsible for the results of the war. She was a full partner to all moves," he let slip. This is the first time Olmert has recognized the failure of the war in Lebanon; if not, would he have shared the outcome with the foreign minister?
If Olmert's testimony before the Winograd Committee had been published, the public would have learned that the failure was distributed widely. Of 10 measures of responsibility, Livni was not the only one to take one or two. Sooner or later the testimony will be released. Then it will come to light that security considerations did not prevent its release, but rather considerations of the witness himself, who sang out like a turtledove behind closed doors, like the turtledove Shimon Peres, because it is the time when the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
One thing Olmert told Haaretz is a sure thing: "The illegal outposts will be evacuated only after the Palestinians fight terror." You can believe Olmert on this one; suspicion has its limits. Shame on those who are always suspicious. If we believed the evacuation of outposts is necessary because they are breaking the law, we've been had. The outposts will remain, the settlements will expand, as the Jewish settlement in Hebron is doing under Amir Peretz. And afterwards we will complain to Mahmoud Abbas that he is not meeting his obligations, as if the government of Israel has met even one of its own: We uprooted outposts, we froze settlements, we restrained the settlers, we released prisoners, we removed roadblocks. What have we not done?
A serious debate is going on in Israel these days: Who lives on Mars and who lives here. Olmert claims that the people of Israel do not recognize the miracle that is their prime minister, ingrates that they are. And concerned citizens, for their part, claim that Olmert has built himself an imaginary and fictional world. And because their prime minister steadfastly refuses to vacate his chair, they themselves will have to vacate. Olmert will stay, and they will go to hell.
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