The Next President / Why Look for a Candidate Overseas?

During his flight to Russia on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed us that he would like the next Israeli president "not to be a politician."

It is not clear how he defines a politician, but it is quite clear what he thinks of his own kind, and probably of himself.

To tell you the truth, we, too, don't have an especially good opinion of Olmert and his colleagues. Nevertheless, we would be wary of generalizations. After all, not all Israeli politicians are too tainted and inferior to be president. Surely one can be found among the has-beens who fled from the stench of political life.

The distinction is not between politicians and non-politicians, but between transgressors and honest people. Olmert, of all people, should have been more careful than to tarnish all politicians. If they're unfit for president, are they fit to serve in their posts that determine our fate?

The flight to Russia inspired Olmert to make another proclamation. He is thinking of offering the presidency to Elie Wiesel. Wiesel's respectability is indisputable. He is a Nobel Prize winner and his national and international reputation as bearer of the Holocaust memory is world encompassing.

However, Israel has never been the center of Wiesel's life, and even his commitment immediately after the Six-Day War, to build a home in East Jerusalem, was not kept.

Ben Caspit wrote in Maariv yesterday: "Those around Olmert believe that bringing Wiesel to Israel would fill the public with enthusiasm."

I must admit, I'm not enthusiastic. Are we so impoverished that we cannot find even one worthy candidate among us - a politician or not? Has the state lost all its assets that it must go begging for a president in New York?

Now we are being reminded that we toyed with the idea of offering Albert Einstein the Israeli presidency. That was many years ago, in the early days of the state. What may have been right 60 years ago is not right today. Wiesel had his whole life as a Jew, and our entire time as a Jewish state, to make a decision. He chose not to choose the Chosen Land as his home.

And if Wiesel is an option, why not Haim Guri, whose works were inspired by the place and the times and the pulse of Israeli life? Or Dalia Dorner, former Supreme Court Justice, who recently started speaking in public and many await her words? Or perhaps Sami Michael, not only an important author but a fearless fighter for human and civil rights at a time when rights are trampled? Or maybe Aharon Barak, whose reputation goes before him and would bring much respect to the presidency?

There, Olmert now has four names of non-politicians, who, nonetheless, belong to us, to the larger Israeli family.

But maybe there is something to Olmert's inclination after all. Speaking of importing candidates, why not expand the idea? Under the current circumstances, we should seriously consider importing a defense minister, chief of staff and, first and foremost, a prime minister.