Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert Photo by Michal Fattal
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The testimonies and arguments are only part of the Ehud Olmert trial. More than anything, it was a first-class human drama.

This prime minister was more powerful than most of his predecessors, launched two wars and two peace processes, and found the time - according to foreign sources - to bomb a nuclear reactor and liquidate a Hezbollah leader. But he found himself discussing frequent-flyer points and the many hundreds of dollars that were or weren't in the envelopes he received from American businessman Morris Talansky.

For most of the trial, the protagonist sat on a bench to the left of the judges. At times he was bored, at times amused, but almost always involved in the minute details. He wrote notes to his attorneys, mumbled remarks at the witnesses and glared at the prosecutor. He also shot puzzled looks at the judges, as if he couldn't believe that all this was being said about him.

When Olmert gave testimony he tried to broaden the perspective. As his attorneys explained it, he didn't want the judges to think the indictment summed up his personality.

"I was born near the Shuni Fortress," Olmert began, "a fortress from the Crusader period on the slopes of the Carmel mountain range. When the Jewish National Fund decided to restore the area, a wonderful theater from the Roman period was discovered there."

Court president Moussia Arad interrupted. "Maybe you should direct your witness," he said to the defense attorney. But Olmert added, "It might seem that these facts belong to the distant past, but they ultimately add up to who I am and what I've represented - not the man I'm being portrayed as." He went on with stories from his childhood.