Olmert's Chutzpah

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Ehud Olmert's pronouncement that the Second Lebanon War was "the most successful of all Israel's wars" is chutzpah of the first order. This boastful arrogance is so infuriating and nauseating as to make any comment unnecessary, were it not for the fact that it expresses a tendency, common among politicians in these parts, to take advantage of the brevity of the public's memory – which is even more taxed in summer – to turn their most horrible, resounding failures into thriving accomplishments.

In this instance, it is not only chutzpah, but rudeness; an extreme lack of sensitivity, which is yet another salient characteristic of the leaders of our Jewish nation. The former prime minister declared, at a conference in the Galilee, that seven years after the end of the Second Lebanon War he was "glad and proud" to say that no other Israeli war had ended so positively and that the Galilee was tranquil, safe and thriving, the threat of rockets having been removed. (His arrogance was so great that he did not even preface his remarks with a "God willing" or "for the time being.")

To whom do we owe thanks, if not the commander-in-chief, the one who steered the ship of state with wisdom, courage and daring; here he stands before us, and his name is Ehud Olmert. It was the speaker's good fortune that presumably no-one in the room was the friend or relative of any of the 33 soldiers who lost their lives during the final three days of that glorious war. Otherwise, I would have been surprised that he completed his remarks without injury.

Those three tragic days – they could be called the Gallipoli of the Second Lebanon War – have been permanently engraved in the public memory, despite the dimming effect of the seven summers since. They were the banner headline of the chutzpah of that random head of state to send soldiers to their deaths without himself having the faintest idea about war; all his strategic and tactical experience, or battlefield knowledge, boiled down to advanced training as a war reporter, if I'm not mistaken.

One would expect that Montgomery impersonator, who dared to launch a superfluous and irresponsible ground invasion after a ceasefire had already been declared – that man with the blood of dozens of soldiers on his head – to take a total and complete vow of silence, and not only in military matters. Not only should he wear sackcloth, rather than designer suits, and hear for the rest of his days the voice of the dead and the wounded soldiers' blood crying unto him from the ground, but he should also learn how things are done elsewhere. In Japan, for example, such an exceptional leader would do what his late friend Amnon Dankner advised the state prosecutor to do after he lost a legal battle against him.

But we laughed at Olmert; he is actually enjoying life even more since that celebrated war. He was spotted, for example, in the stands at Old Trafford (the fact that he's a loyal Manchester United fan is, to my mind, the only point in his favor) during the important game against Real Madrid, and, as previously reported, he continues to upgrade himself at luxury hotels on five continents. If that were not enough, he still dreams of checking into the dream Prime Minister's Suite on Jerusalem's Balfour Street. Be our guest. 

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2012. Credit: Marc Israel Sellem

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