Six comments on the situation
Esterina Tartman is the female version of the Talmudic bull that gores three times. Maybe she doesn't carry a whip, like Orna Banai does when she impersonates her on television, but Esterina has done a better job of turning herself into a cartoon character than Banai ever did.
1. Why waste our breath? That's been the Likud way, from Sharon to Olmert: Jobs for votes. We'll see what Winograd has to say, and get ready for early elections.
2. A commission of inquiry operates very much like the Supreme Court. It hears testimony, analyzes evidence and issues verdicts. Beyond what goes on during work sessions, it is not customary for retired judges to set themselves up as media commentators, or to add or detract from the judgments handed down by their colleagues or themselves. The Agranat Commission, the saddest and most well-known of all commissions of inquiry, said what it said, rocked the country and was disbanded. In all this time, Agranat has not commented in the media, let alone shared with us the apocalyptic thoughts that no doubt passed through his head during those days. Vardi Zeiler of the Zeiler Commission did a good job. But since then, he has become a media star, churning out apocalyptic predictions and dire warnings that the end is near. Let him leave something for Winograd, for God's sake.
3. The story that appeared in London's Sunday Telegraph, claiming that Israel is seeking for the United States to establish an "air corridor" in the event of an attack on Iran, calls for an explanation. Either it's a leak from an American source or a fabrication. The main thing is that Israel absolutely cannot get involved in any such attack - not in initiating it, not in pushing for it, and certainly not in hitching a ride on it, as Europe looks on and denounces us to the high heavens. With all due respect to Israeli airpower, Iran is better left to the big guys. And once we're talking about air corridors, better we should start with Ben-Gurion Airport, where two passenger planes just missed one another while landing the other day.
4. Olmert says he would love to explore the possibility of an accord with Syria, but his hands are tied because America is opposed to it. In practice, Bush is the ideal alibi for whatever Olmert doesn't want to do, or cannot do. But in the history of U.S.-Israeli relations, Israel has acted without American permission at least four times: the occupation of Sinai in the Sinai Campaign of 1956; the London accord between Hussein and Peres (sabotaged by then-prime minister Yitzhak Shamir); the secret talks between Moshe Dayan and Anwar Sadat's advisor, Hassan Tohami, in Morocco, in which Dayan promised to return all of Sinai in return for an agreement, prompting Sadat's trip to Jerusalem; and the Oslo talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization. What about the hundreds of settlements and outposts Israel built despite fierce American objections? Oh, and we never gave the Americans advance warning when we bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor either. If God wants it, even a broom can shoot without America's okay.
5. Esterina Tartman is the female version of the Talmudic bull that gores three times. Maybe she doesn't carry a whip, like Orna Banai does when she impersonates her on television, but Esterina has done a better job of turning herself into a cartoon character than Banai ever did. With all her lies and half-truths, she lost the chance of being tourism minister. Actually, if she had talked less and bragged less, she might have made it. Because the truth is, she's got something. But the real star of this tragicomedy is not Esterina. It's Avigdor Lieberman, who couldn't resist doing what he always does, i.e., launch an attack on the dictatorship known as the media. When our soldiers are being held hostage, he said, when the Iranian nuclear program poses a threat to our survival, is this the time to go checking if she worked in a bank or a kiosk on Ben Yehuda Street? Is this the time to investigate whether she was born in Israel or Birobidzhan? Is the time to go snooping around to find out if she served in the Israel Defense Forces or the Polish army? Ah, demagoguery at its finest. But what should worry us most is not Lieberman's rhetoric or the fishy appointment itself. What we ought to be worried about is the judgment of Israel's minister for strategic threats. The prime minister needs to tell the public what Lieberman has been placed in charge of, as a senior cabinet minister. Because if the strategy he's responsible for looks anything like this, we're in trouble.
6. The government convened a special meeting recently, and our ministers spent six hours listening to intelligence predictions for 2007. The reports were impressive, said Minister Eitan Cabel, but I didn't come out of there any smarter. But that's the whole trick, Minister Cabel. Since the infamous prediction on the eve of the Yom Kippur War that the war was highly unlikely, the intelligence agencies have been reporting in such a way that we don't have a clue of what we're in for.
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