By summer's end
It is very likely that in the coming weeks honest Israelis will prove that in spite of everything, they have the upper hand.
This week was Moishe's week. The beloved Moishe, the friend, the one who gives more than he takes. It was not easy for Moishe in court, and it was not easy with Moishe: contradictory versions, inaccuracies, obvious confusion. At times it seemed that confidence in T. from the Ritz-Carlton was shaken, just like confidence in A. from the President's Residence was shaken. There is a sense that the resemblance between the two scandals at the top is becoming increasingly stronger.
On the one hand, precisely the way everyone who was familiar with the material on the former president thought that Katsav was a serial sex offender, that is how everyone who is exposed to the Olmert-related materials today feels that the prime minister is a serial breacher of confidence. But on the other hand, there is the impression that just as it was difficult to translate the truth-about-Katsav into legal truth, there is growing difficulty in translating the truth-about-Olmert into a solid indictment.
This is not the situation. Ehud Olmert is caught up in seven different affairs that the public knows about: the Bank Leumi affair, the Cremieux Street affair, the appointments in the Small Business Bureau affair, the benefits in the investment center affair, the cash envelopes of Moshe Talansky affair, the private bank of Uri Messer affair, and the double receipts for first-class flights affair. Some of the cases are interlinked, and in some of the cases there are hidden sub-affairs. There are more affairs, including the Joe Elmaleh affair that was revealed in this newspaper by Gidi Weitz. But the main hero of every one of these affairs is one person, whose behavior is the same.
The police recommended closing the Bank Leumi case, and now we are waiting for the final decision of the State Prosecutor, Moshe Lador. In the Cremieux affair there are many shadows, but it is doubtful whether the sufficiently powerful evidence required is available for a quick and solid indictment. The affair of jobs for friends is more well founded: it is no longer a case of isolated instances, but many dozens of improper appointments. It is very likely that Olmert will one day face an indictment similar to the one in which Tzachi Hanegbi is currently dealing. But precisely because the appointments scandal is becoming complicated, its investigation will not be completed in the near future. One needs to be patient, at least until the end of the year.
In the investments center affair the results are complex. There is no doubt beyond all doubt that Olmert offered unusual benefits to the owners of the Silicut factory; however, it turns out that as minister of industry and trade, he methodically acted in blatant conflict of interest. As such, the investments center file will be added to the rest of the cases so that together they can prove a modus operandi that is not merely deviant, but even corrupt.
The Talansky Affair and the Messer Affair both stem from each other, and feed each other. However, their legal standing differs: Talansky is a generous witness who is not always reliable, but Messer is a stingy witness, but a strong one. Thus it is clear that the envelopes affair constitutes terrible behavior in terms of norms, but the situation of the evidence is not perfect, while in the case of the private bank the evidence is strong, but the implications about the norms is debatable.
In both cases the truth has still not been completely revealed. The true origins of the money that reached Olmert through Talansky and Messer is not clear. However, in both cases it is absolutely obvious that the regulations of the Asher Committee - which were meant to preserve ethics among public servants - were blatantly violated. Both the Talansky and Messer affairs require an end to the tenure of a prime minister, and perhaps even trying him for breach of trust.
The Olmertours affair is the simplest and most obvious of all the cases. Its color is totally clear. So is the embarrassing norms of behavior, and the evidence that cannot be dispelled. The police will complete the investigation in a few weeks. A short while later the prosecution will decide. So, by the end of the summer we will have the answer. Most likely, this will be the answer: for the first time in Israel's history, the attorney general has decided to put a prime minister of Israel on trial. Prime Minister Olmert will be charged with fraudulent receiving. Theft.
When honest Israelis are now faced with the Olmert-related material, their stomachs twist. Even though they have seen plenty, they are amazed. They are finding it difficult to believe how far things have come. They find it difficult to believe that a prime minister has taken advantage of his standing to such an extent in order to draw personal benefits. They find it difficult to believe that the person at the head of government has been so derelict in the duties of the ruler toward the citizens. Even though they are not sentimental, honest Israelis feel shame. Shame as citizens; shame as Israelis.
In view of the evidence being piled up they are not simply enraged, they are full of sorrow. However, it may very well be that by the end of the summer the sorrow will turn into pride. It is very likely that in the coming weeks honest Israelis will prove that in spite of everything, they have the upper hand. Despite a bitter delay of two years, they managed to clean the stables.