Wait a second â€“ Werenâ€™t we at war with them? What does it mean to announce peace talks with a regime that we vastly outgun in military matters and totally humiliate on an economic level (Israel’s per capita GDP is $30,000 and climbing; Syria’s is just scraping $4,000)?
Israel recently entered Syrian airspace after disabling Syria’s â€œlatest and most advancedâ€ Russian-made air defense systems and then destroyed what’s thought to have been a nuclear weapons facility. Even during the Lebanon War — that mismanaged, mangled, and relatively pathetic display of Israel’s military capabilities — Israeli warplanes were able to buzz â€œPresidentâ€ Assad’s palace without so much as being shot at.
So, clearly, Syria is a major threat to Israel and we should scramble to give up the ultra-strategic Golan Heights (where Syria attacked Israel from when it actually was a threat) in order to quell the potential â€œshit-stormâ€ that Syria might like to serve us.
What’s really going on here? No sane nation in today’s geopolitical world, and none in the history of nations, would ever sit down to give away land — strategic land — to a bordering country that not only has limited power but also constantly calls for the destruction of the first, more powerful country.
All I can say is: Welcome to Israeli domestic politics.
We’ve seen this before, many times. The parallels are actually frightening. Let’s rewind back to the winter of 2000, when Ehud Barak led Israel through a number of failed, disastrous policies. In February of 2000, Barak, according to The Economist, was accused by the state comptroller of corruption and â€œshenanigans over election financing.â€ Barak, as skillful and slippery as any Israeli politician, managed to sway the public focus away from him by doing something â€œboldâ€: he removed Israeli troops from their strategic position in southern Lebanon where they had been keeping Hezbollah (and their likes) at bay.
After the troop withdrawal, Hezbollah had the opportunity to casually saunter into southern Lebanon. In effect, Barak’s wily plan worked — he was praised by the left-wing media for his dovish actions and his campaign imbroglio was largely forgotten. He also, by the way, wiped out more than a decade of hard-won gains in Lebanon that kept terrorists out of firing range of Israel’s population centers. Six years later, we got a terror war from the south of Lebanon in which Israeli soldiers and civilians were murdered.
Ariel Sharon provides another instructive example. Just after he became prime minister, Sharon began to deny accusations of campaign finance violations faster than he could gobble down Shwarmas. Boomerang, a book written by left-wing Israeli journalists and based on extensive interviews as well as on the examination of declassified documents and use of archival material, had made the case that Sharon used the withdrawal from Gaza to distract the Israeli public from his misdoings.
It seemed to work — except for the small annoyance that some call â€œdaily terror attacksâ€, in the form of Qassam and Katyusha rockets fired from the recently withdrawn-from Gaza Strip. (There have been roughly 8,000 rocket strikes on Israeli ground from Gaza to date since the withdrawal.)
Of course, not a problem for Sharon — then and now — who sleeps with a clear conscience.
Olmert, who, some scientists speculate, may actually be amphibious, has set off on the same mission. A quick browse of today’s news headlines and you can see all the pieces coming together: Olmert announces his new peace plan with our seriously threatening enemy, Syria. At the same time, he wrangles with the police and the justice department officials, in an attempt to delay the testimony of the American financier, Morris Talansky, which could put him behind bars. Delay it just long enough for the peace-crazed public to forget… Forget what, again…?
Olmert may have gone too far this time. But then again, we in Israel like to draw lines in the sand, never remembering that the desert’s political winds blow hard.
May 22, 2008 at 10:55 am
I find this post offensive and not appropriate for your blog, which I like reading cause you usually put up intelligent articles. This time I think the writer is too cynical, and to put it simply, she sounds quite bitter and condescending.
May 22, 2008 at 12:14 pm
Great article….finally someone who is unafraid to it like it is. With a brazen tone and a no non sense style of delivering the sad truth. Israel is led by charlatans and political expediency, instead of with ideological conviction and responsible governance. This author makes it plain to us all that the current Israeli leadership is filled with contemptable unworthy persons who are more concerned with personal power then the national interest…and they are only following in the administrations that led before!!! Thank you Mr. Ashley, I look forward to reading your next observation.
May 22, 2008 at 1:27 pm
Amen…This article really rings true. Its time we here in Israel realized how decrepid the elites in this country really are
May 22, 2008 at 1:38 pm
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only reason you’re attacking Mr. Olmert is his political views. Do you really believe that he (and the PM’s before him) is trying to stabilize the area just so he could stay in office a couple more months??
Excuse me, but this sounds like a conspiracy fit for the X-Files.
May 22, 2008 at 3:05 pm
You had a sitting president that had to leave b/c he sexually molested one of his employees. Olmert the sitting PM has as of today 5 criminal investigations swerling around him. We had a sitting Finance minster being indicted on fraud (Hershson) Hanegbi, whi is in charge of the foreighn & defense committee in the knesset being investigated for crime. Haim Ramon who sexually harrased a women when he was the Justice Minister. Sharon and Barak both had formal investigation when they were PM. There does seem to be a pattern forming here Mike…Given such institutional corruption, this hardly seems like a “conspiracy” theory… I think it is time you wake up and smell the disgusting stink that is Israeli politics!
May 22, 2008 at 3:58 pm
No, the reason I attacked Olmert is not his political views. There are many Israeli politicians who have political views that I disagree with whom I wouldn’t attack. Take Yitzhak Rabin as an example (it’s unfortunate that we have to turn to the deceased for examples of uncorrupt politicians, but so it goes). I did disagree with many of his policies but I think he fought for Israel with good intentions and a real vision.
Uzi Dayan is another example of someone whom I disagree with but respect and wouldn’t attack for his opinions or policies.
The notion that the idea behind the piece is a conspiracy theory is unfounded. The concept of ‘wag the dog’ is well documented in many cases of national politics. I suggest you take a look at the book I mentioned, “Boomerang”, as an example of Sharon’s dog-wagging.
Olmert is currently under multiple investigations. His wife– an amateur artist– has been documented selling her paintings to American businessmen for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Look back to Olmert’s Jerusalem days and you’ll find video of him slamming his fist on the table and screaming that we’ll never give an inch of Jerusalem, and yet today he’s negotiating that very city.
Olmert led the country into a botched war, sending soldiers into the field without a mission, when he knew that a UN resolution was in place. Many of those soldiers died. And he’s done nothing to protect the citizens of the south from rocket attacks.
I criticized Olmert harshly because he is arrogant and reckless with people’s lives and with the governing of Israel. He’s shown himself to lack any semblance of honor or accountability. He is the perfect embodiment of many of the problems Israel faces, and yet he embodies none of the many amazing qualities that Israelis exhibit on a daily basis.
May 25, 2008 at 1:46 pm
Well, jerks are jerks and it appears the P.M. is one of the biggest.
History will surely back up everything said about Olmert to date!
He won’t go to jail tho – any more than Katsav will. Both are to slippery and too clever to wind up in the slammer. It takes people like Omri Sharon and Arieh Daire see life on the “inside”.