The Government's Failure / The Descendants of Prophets

Two weeks after the war ended, Ehud Olmert clashed with Micha Lindenstrauss over whose idea it was for the state comptroller to examine "deficiencies in home front readiness," as Olmert put it. Olmert preferred that the comptroller to examine the home front shortcomings, rather than an inquiry committee. His wish came true. It is therefore unclear why he's complaining now.

Even less clear is the role of that purported executive branch which calls itself "the government," but which doesn't execute. The comptroller's report exposes this as a group that meets from time to time to air thoughts and cogitations, and to discuss speculation and warnings, with no apparent obligation to transform words into actions.

After all, these talkers are the descendants of the prophets - sometimes their predictions come true and sometimes they don't. Same goes for the predictions of the professionals (Mossad chief Meir Dagan predicted on July 27 that the confrontation with Hezbollah would last months). The ministers tell each other that a grave situation is expected, that preparations must be made, that things could get difficult. Not just difficult, but "a new reality" is looming. They talk but don't do.

Pushed into a corner, they make the absurd argument that their predecessors are to blame. Their predecessors include Olmert, who was health minister when Scud missiles landed in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv and Haifa in 1991 and in the three years before the Second Lebanon War, he served as acting prime minister, industry, trade and employment minister and treasurer.

The government, sadly, is no more practical than a religious party's council of sages or a newspaper's editorial staff deliberating the content of tomorrow's lead editorial.

The incompetence has infected the army as well. Prime and defense ministers like Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Mordechai, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Shaul Mofaz are responsible for the home front's deficiencies in the past 15 years no less than prime ministers with no military background.

The myth of the IDF's advantage over the police and ministries as a powerful body that can look after the home front in wartime has also been shattered.

The most amazing admission in the report can be found in former defense minister Shaul Mofaz's testimony to the comptroller, appearing on page 52: The residents of the North were discriminated against compared to the settlers. The northern region's defense budget was slashed, the money transferred to the settlements' "security."

The conclusion would appear to be that the state cannot protect both Kiryat Shmona and Kiryat Arba - one of them has to go. But of course, the talkers of talk dare not say such a thing.