Readers react to the Holyland verdicts

Sir, – With regard to “Former prime minister Olmert guilty of bribery” (April 1), at last our judicial system has come up trumps, a vindication for those of us who struggle financially on a daily basis, trying to keep our heads above water through honest and diligent means. One presumes this is just the tip of the iceberg and hopes that more prosecutions will be enacted to ferret out the mendacious corruption and lack of moral fiber embedded within the establishment, including the religious sector.

Israeli citizens have suffered a severe blow to their belief system, which could have been damaged irrevocably. Nevertheless, we should be sustained by the facts on the other side of the coin that demonstrate the talents, vision and surging progress of the continuing Israeli dream.

GISH TRUMAN ROBBINS Pardesiya

Sir, – The criminal convictions of former prime minister Ehud Olmert and nine other government and public figures could be a good time for self-analysis.

Corrupt leadership cannot prosper where the prevalent culture is not itself corrupt. Do many Israeli citizens engage in corrupt and dishonest behavior in their daily personal and business practices? Is the prevalent culture in Israel honest and true? Are the corrupt and dishonest leaders of the state nothing more than a reflection of its citizens, many of whom themselves engage on a daily basis in such behavior? AARON RUBIN Ra’anana Sir, – Is it because of April Fools’ Day that Yossi Melman wrote the words “What a pity,” stating that Ehud Olmert was a wonderful prime minister (“The leader Israel won’t have,” Comment, April 1)? Why? Because he came from a poor family? Because he moved from Right to Left and became a personal friend of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, a Holocaust denier? I am sure that many people like myself do not see Olmert’s removal from Israeli politics as a “pity,” but rather as the start of a clean up. A good thing before Passover.

YISRAEL (IAN) LAST Kiryat Ata

Sir, – Yes, what a pity. One of Israel’s “best prime ministers ever” was found guilty.

Yossi Melman goes on to say that Olmert “proved himself to be a competent prime minister.”

Here are his reasons.

Olmert bombed the Syrian nuclear reactor. Melman compares him to Menachem Begin, who bombed the Iraqi nuclear facility in 1981 against the wishes of the whole world. Olmert bombed the Syrian facility with the explicit approval of US President George W. Bush and most of the world. What a difference.

Olmert maintained silence after giving the order to kill Hezbollah’s Imad Mughniyeh. Wow! What an attribute! Keeping your mouth shut can make you great – although in an interview he gave in late 2006, Olmert basically admitted that Israel had nuclear weapons, so he couldn’t even do that.

Olmert’s two wars were very effective. On what planet is Melman living? The goal of the Gaza war was to stop the rockets and free Gilad Schalit. What was effective about it? And the Lebanese war was a disaster.

This is “one of Israel’s best prime ministers”?

SHLOMO BAR-MEIR Tel Aviv

Sir, – One of the telling segments in your extensive, in-depth coverage of the Holyland verdicts is “Lupolianski, Dankner also found guilty of bribery” (April 1).

Reporters Daniel Clinton and Yonah Jeremy Bob ably transmit Judge David Rozen’s comment that Lupolianski was committed to the “lofty goals” of Yad Sarah, the charitable organization the former Jerusalem mayor founded, but that he had chosen to “sink into criminal acts in order to serve these lofty goals.” Criminal indeed, since “lofty” ends do not justify the means.

Of all the God-fearing people in Israel, Lupolianski should have reflected on the fact that we are the carriers of the torch from Sinai, but not the source of its flame. Ours is to hold it high, not to augment or diminish such life-giving fire, a friendly fire that should never consume. In the end, the flame burned his fingers, fingers that were created for holiness.

The sentencing for Lupolianski will be a unique opportunity to send a clear message that with no extenuating circumstances, the end does not justify the means, however noble the end.

AARON BRAUNSTEIN Jerusalem

Sir, – I consider the historic judgment against Ehud Olmert and others an ongoing tragedy of momentous proportions, not only for Jerusalem residents and all other Israelis, but for world Jewry.

Here we have a charlatan who promoted bribery on a large scale, a mayor of Jerusalem, a cabinet minister and a prime minister who damaged the trust and confidence of his people.

The case has been indicative of the waning morality of some of our leaders, both political and religious.

This distressing, sordid matter will test the caliber and competence of our leadership and way life for years to come because the greed, graft and corruption of Olmert and his cohorts were allowed to seep into our lives.

Will those of our young sent to protect us now have enough faith to be willing to sacrifice their lives? This is a question my serving grandchildren should ask of our leadership and dysfunctional political system.

Olmert’s corrupt behavior has added fuel to the fire for the growing number of Jew haters and anti-Semites throughout the world. They will have a field day.

JACK DAVIS Jerusalem

Sir, – Kudos where kudos are due. The Jews have once again led the way by indicting and convicting for corruption a former VIP in politics. No doubt, all those living in Christian and Muslim countries are looking forward to lots of their own leaders being similarly weighed on the scales of justice.

LIAM POWER San Pawl il-Bahar, Malta

Sir, – It has often been said that whatever happens in America eventually happens in Israel.

We just witnessed an excellent example.

The resignation of President Richard (“I am not a crook”) Nixon in 1974 was eventually followed in 2008 by the resignation of prime minister Ehud (“I never took a shekel for myself”) Olmert.

NATHAN AVIEZER Petah Tikva

Sir, – After Ehud Olmert’s acquittal on the major charges in a previous corruption case, he used the Hebrew expression Yesh shoftim b’yerushalayim (There are judges in Jerusalem).

I wonder what he thinks now!

AVRAHAM FRIEDMAN Modi’in Illit

Sir, – “It’s a sad day,” said Shimon Peres after the Holyland verdict was read. Yes, it was a sad day – for all the corrupt politicians and so called “civil servants” who saw how the acts of someone considered “unreachable” could be brought out in the open.

Longtime friends of mine say it is impossible to do business in Israel without bribing someone.

One, doing business in construction before an election, says he gave money to both the Likud and the Labor Party to be sure he’d be able to continue his work.

This case is only an example.

If the police look deep they can find hundreds, from high politicians to municipal authorities.

It is no surprise that “celebrities” jump into the political arena; they know how well politicians live from other people’s money. They also want a piece of the public cake, because all Israelis know that politicians don’t carry a wallet and that the citizens pay for everything these people need.

And they need a lot.

Yes, it was a sad day. But not for people who work hard for their money and can’t finish the month without being in the red.

DAVID WAINTRAUB Rishon Lezion

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