Whenever Ehud Olmert - for whatever expedient transitory interest - chooses to wax tough, it's time for us plebeians to grow extra wary and await the precise opposite of the bravado spouted so emphatically and so impressively for our benefit.
It's a consistent pattern. Olmert habitually utters macho sounds. On occasion, he emerges as much an outspoken a defender of Israel's cause as Golda Meir was. The problem is that while he talks the talk, he doesn't walk the walk. You can positively bank on a clash between Olmert's swagger and his actions. Invariably his forthright rhetoric signals the reverse course from the one he delineated.
He isn't necessarily out to double-cross; his bluster may be ultra-sincere. Nevertheless, almost immediately after his determined declarations, he fails to implement the policies he boosts. That's why exceptional caution and relentless suspicion are mandated whenever Olmert makes the noises expected of the Jewish state's elected leader.
We were naive to fall for his hard-hitting oratory last July after Hizbullah's murder and abduction of Israeli soldiers on Israeli soil and after its mass rocketing of Israeli civilians at home and work.
Olmert was perfect in his every nuance. He only zigzagged in following up his gritty, strong-minded avowals. Ultimately he did what he railed against. When, for instance, he insisted that Israel wouldn't withdraw from Lebanon or wouldn't lift the naval blockade unless certain basic conditions were met, he was right on the money. He just practiced the antithesis of what he promised.
It's an old habit. In November 2000 terror kingpin Muhammad Dahlan targeted a Kfar Darom school bus, killing two passengers and causing three small siblings to lose their legs. In June 2002 Olmert firmly stated to The Wall Street Journal that "no democratic country can permit itself to do business with those who premeditatedly attack school buses." True enough, except for the fact that overnight the aforementioned Dahlan became the great shining hope of Olmert & Crew, who now perceive the school bus bomber as their preferred peace partner.
THE LIST of Olmert contradictions is too long to recite. The Temple Mount fiasco is merely the latest. At the very hour in which Jerusalem's mayor was busy facilitating a disgraceful retreat (likely at Olmert's behest) from plans to erect a new walkway to the Temple Mount, Olmert pushed through a government resolution to press on with the job.
He stressed how imperative it is "not to permit Khaled Mashaal and Raed Sallah to dictate to us what we may or may not do 20 meters from the Western Wall. If we are seen to falter, tomorrow they'll tell us what to do at the Jaffa Gate or Mamilla quarter. Sorry folks, but this is our territory, under our sovereignty. They mustn't be allowed to dictate to us what to do at the Wall Plaza."
Maddeningly Mashaal and Sallah can congratulate themselves on another victory in their win-win strategy of fulminating ominously to ostensibly protest blasphemous transgressions against their faith. And because they rant so emotionally (unlike our Foreign Ministry's drab Mark Regev), their professed outrage plays convincingly on overseas TV.
The apparent backtracking in the sordid guise of municipal bureaucratic hedging won't placate Muslim vehemence, but will intensify unilateral Muslim usurpation of the divine right for exclusive domination of the sacred site.
Domination, after all, is what Islamo-fascists deem as their God-given privilege everywhere - from London to Jerusalem. As long as said domination isn't achieved, they feel wronged. If Muslims don't prevail, it's an injustice against which they naturally must resort to violence. If said violence is resisted, then the resistance is decried as oppression, inducing "downtrodden" Muslims to wreak yet greater havoc against the greater "grievance."
Olmert's predictable flip-flop not only undermines the Jewish state's deterrence but demonstrates to the aggressor that aggression succeeds.
Ironically, things increasingly resemble what they were under the perfidious British Mandate. Back then, calculatingly inflammatory allegations that Jews were about to attack al-Aksa sent Arab rioters to slaughter Jews all over the country in August 1929, with the worst bloodbath occurring in Hebron and culminating in the displacement of its ancient Jewish community.
The Brits knew whom to punish - the victims, obviously. They harassed Jewish worshipers at the Wall, and even outlawed the blowing of the shofar lest it upset delicate Muslim sensibilities. Last Rosh Hashana a young man was arrested at the same venue for the same offense.
So attentive are Muslims to the sensibilities of others that soon after their occupation (with British aid) of the Old City in 1948, they destroyed 58 synagogues, constructed pissoirs with Jewish tombstones from the Mount of Olives and paved sidewalks and latrine floors with them as well. This warranted not the mildest squawk from enlightened world opinion, and neither did the outright violation of undertakings to let Jews pray at the holiest of Jewish sites.
Moreover, Arabs brazenly deny any Jewish historical or religious affiliation to Jerusalem (thereby also challenging Christian historiography). Uber-tolerant Israeli rule - so keen on not offending - overlooked rampant destruction of Temple antiquities via flagrantly provocative illegal mosque construction, but forbade Jewish prayer on the Mount. Even a visit there is fraught with menace from sneering and scowling Arabs.
If any rights are infringed, they're those of Jews, not Muslims.
Little wonder then that Mashaal and Sallah are emboldened whenever Olmert opens his mouth and roars frighteningly. What a lark! At this rate, Olmert might eventually appoint Israeli citizen Sallah a minister and woo Damascus resident Mashaal as the next promising peace partner.