Olmert's Closing Act
By Steven Plaut
Posted Dec 10 2008
Ehud Olmert, facing criminal prosecution for corruption, is using his final days in office to subvert Israeli security and impose his own policy notions on the country - notions rejected by the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens.
Olmert has agreed to release scores of Hamas officials, including Hamas members of the Palestinian "parliament" and Hamas "cabinet ministers," as a reward for Hamas's refusal to release kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. When Shalit was first kidnapped, Israel grabbed some Hamas leaders and tossed them into the clink, promising to keep them locked up until Shalit was released.
Shalit has not been released, but since the Hamas terrorists were jailed under an initial sentence that is set to run out in 2009, the Olmert people want to let them go early as a goodwill gesture.
Now, regardless of what the original sentence was for these people, they could always be retried and given an additional sentence, and this can be done over and over until Shalit is released. Once released, these terrorists will return to bombing and rocketing Israeli civilians. Holding them in jail is also a way to pressure Hamas to stop shooting rockets at Sderot. But Olmert does not want to be bothered with such arguments. He wants the history books to remember him as something other than a petty crook.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the atrocities in Mumbai, the Olmert clique is still pushing for withdrawal from even more territory - including turning the Golan Heights over to Syria. Israeli law happens to make that illegal, but if the lawyer Olmert were careful about obeying the law, he would not now be facing criminal prosecution for bribery.
Even President Bush dressed down Olmert for his Golan proposal. Here we had the spectacle of an American president lecturing an Israeli prime minister for being too lax on Israeli security.
It is amusing to imagine what was going through the minds of Israel's leaders as they watched the news coverage of the Mumbai barbarism. Were they thinking how primitive those Indian politicians and military leaders are?
After all, the Indians dealt with the terrorists by shooting them down like dogs. The terrorists were not read their rights before being arrested, assigned public defenders, and granted long drawn-out trials. The family members of the terrorists were not granted survivor benefits from India's social security system, such as those granted by Israel to families of murderers.
The Indian press did not lecture the country about how the terrorism was their comeuppance for being insensitive and selfish. Indian politicians did not pontificate about how one can only make peace with one's enemies, and that there is no military solution to the problems of terrorism. They did not issue calls for talks with the terrorists or for granting them funds and arms so that they can suppress the "real" extremists.
Indian professors did not lead marches of solidarity with the terrorists. Indian poets and writers did not take out ads in the papers endorsing the demands of the terrorists. Conferences were not held on Indian campuses demanding that Punjabi Muslims be granted a "right of return" to homes they once had on Indian soil.
Hindu academics did not insist that Muslims inside India be granted the right to set up their own new sovereign Muslim state on Indian land, nor did they demand that all Hindus be expelled from Muslim areas. In the land of Ghandi, no one was demanding that India respond to the atrocities by turning the other cheek because retaliation would escalate the cycle of violence.
In short, Israeli politicians were no doubt wondering why the leaders of India had not chosen to emulate Israel's Oslo strategy of seeking peace with Islamofascism through endless appeasements and goodwill concessions.
On another front, Olmert has had much to say recently about domestic law and order. He is all in favor of it - but only when it comes to settler protesters.
One of the more amusing pastimes in Israel these days is watching the government suddenly get indignant when it comes to lawbreaking. The Left in Israel has never believed the obligation to obey the law applies to itself. For decades it has promoted mutiny and insurrection among soldiers, urging them not to serve in the army until Israel adopts policies advocated by the Israeli Communist Party. Leftists were never prosecuted for this. The Israeli press hails the mutineers as great ethical role models and people of conscience.
Similarly, many in the Israeli media cheer on the "heroic" thugs and hooligans who attack Israeli police and soldiers every week next to the security fence. Those leftists try to vandalize the fence so it will be easier for the suicide bombers to get through to murder Jews. They also do not get prosecuted.
So why is the Israeli political establishment all of a sudden so righteous in denouncing lawbreaking? Because the lawbreaking in question involves some West Bank settlers.
All the ruckus has to do with efforts by the Olmert people to evict Jews from a house in Hebron they bought and legally own. The fundamental operating axiom of the cult of Oslo has always been that peace with the Palestinians can only be based on creating a judenrein lebensraum for the Palestinians, areas in which no Jew pollutes the place with his presence.
Some of the hotter young Jewish heads in Judea have reacted with non-non-violence. In part, they were responding to the ease with which the police themselves have used force against settlers. Some hotheads threw rocks at soldiers trying to evict Jews, others cursed or threw punches. It was not pretty and it discredits the Right.
If anyone were to suggest that a black American family be denied the right to live in a neighborhood of white Americans, liberals and Israeli intellectuals would be taking to the barricades in conniptions of outrage and indignation.
But when Jews take to the streets to defend the Jewish right to settle in Hebron, the outrage and indignation are turned inside out. Heavens, scream the Olmert people and the Israeli leftist media, such bad behavior! Don't they realize they are violating the rule of law?
Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book "The Scout" is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.