Shula Zaken’s son said Friday that his mother had testified recently against her longtime boss, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, because he had turned his back on her.
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Olmert was convicted earlier this month in the long-running Holyland trial, where public figures – including Olmert during his tenure as city mayor – received bribes for aiding the building of a controversial housing development in Jerusalem.
In an interview with the popular daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Nadav Zaken said: “Ehud’s betrayal did not begin with Holyland. Seven years ago, he already turned his back on her … she was there all those years for him, and the first time she needed him he didn’t play his part.”
According to Zaken Jr., one of the moments that broke his mother was when Olmert was acquitted in the Rishon Tours affair (when Olmert was accused of double billing for overseas trips), while she was convicted. “Even then, Ehud didn’t have a warm word to say. I was there with her at all the hearings and saw how she always had a kind of longing for him. Even the fact that in the dock she wasn’t allowed to say hello to him bothered her.”
Zaken added that when the verdict exonerating Olmert in the Talansky “money envelopes” case was delivered last year, “Ehud embraced his attorneys and his family, and skipped over Mom … the absurdity is that she smiled in spite of the fact that she had been convicted, because she was happy he was acquitted.”
Zaken said his mother finally relented to her family’s prompting to think of herself and not Olmert. He said the turning point was an interview given by Olmert’s attorney, Roy Blecher. “After Blecher claimed in the interview that Mom had lied in court, I remember that she phoned Ehud crying and asked him, ‘Why, Ehud, why?’ He said, ‘That can’t be. Roy wouldn’t say such a thing.’ And Mom cried and said, ‘I saw it with my own eyes; how can he call me a liar?’ Then Olmert submitted the summaries in the Holyland trial and asked that Mom not be able to see the things that were written about her there.”
According to Zaken Jr., “it was only then that Mom understood that everything we told her was true, and her world was destroyed. Every place she went, she’d say, like a mantra, ‘Ehud sold me, Ehud sold me.’ It hurt her that she was the last to know.”
Zaken Jr. related that afterward his mother summoned Olmert and hurled accusations at him, but that Olmert simply “kept quiet and left ... Mom was afflicted with ‘Ehud sickness.’ She built Olmert. And us? We paid the price.”
Zaken talked about his childhood spent in the shadow of his mother’s job. “We had been born to serve him,” he said, noting that their lives fitted around “Mom’s schedule, which was a copy of Ehud’s schedule. Mom worked for him 24/7 and we got along by ourselves … Birthdays were not according to the date but according to when he went away on a trip,” Zaken said.