Olmert: Corruption probe against me is none of Diaspora Jewry's business
PM lashes out at Jewish People Policy Planning Institute during presentation of its annual Israel report.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert went on a rampage during yesterday's cabinet meeting, lashing out at targets as varied as tennis star Andy Ram, comedian Lior Shlein, Israeli rightists and the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute.
The official topic of the meeting was the institute's annual report assessing Israel's situation and that of the Jewish people as a whole. But as institute director Avinoam Bar-Yosef was finishing his presentation of the report's main findings, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann passed a note to Olmert drawing his attention to page 31 of the document, which stated that Israel's leadership was about to change due to "its ongoing corruption problem." The report declared that Olmert's resignation last fall constituted "a depressing climax to the parade of corruption in the senior echelons" of government and expressed hope that "out of the ruins of the Olmert government, perhaps a cleaner political culture will emerge."
Olmert read this passage and erupted. "This is none of Diaspora Jewry's business and none of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute's business," he shouted. "On what basis do you conclude this? I haven't been charged with anything yet; these are only suspicions. And former president [Moshe] Katsav" - whose case the report also cited - "has also yet to be indicted."
Olmert was further outraged by a passage declaring that Diaspora Jews viewed the Second Lebanon War as a failure. "What are you talking about?" he demanded. "I can bring military experts who will prove that the war brought us great achievements. Who appointed you? Why are you sticking your nose into these matters, and on what basis do you draw these conclusions? Why don't you tell the truth? That's what happens when you let people who hide behind curtains write a report."
That remark was a reference to former institute president Prof. Yehezkel Dror, a member of the commission that investigated the Second Lebanon War, who hid behind a curtain at a public event a few weeks ago to avoid shaking Olmert's hand. However, the institute said that Dror had left his post a few months ago and was not involved in writing the report.
Once having gotten started, Olmert soon moved on to other topics. He first attacked the Dubai tennis tournament, for having refused a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer earlier this month, and then proceeded to local tennis star Andy Ram, who did receive a visa in the wake of the international outcry over Peer's exclusion and decided to use it.
"I was a bit surprised to discover that Andy Ram did intend to go there," Olmert said. "It would be highly worthwhile for someone to advise him to demonstrate patriotism and solidarity and boycott the tournament."
Next, Olmert lashed out at rightists who oppose a Palestinian state, implicitly blaming them for the recent worldwide surge in anti-Semitism. "The phenomenon that the enlightened international community calls the occupation - as long as this situation exists, it provides an opportunity for attacking Israel," he declared.
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