Counterpoint: Morality test

Olmert represents all that is wrong with our country's leadership.

By DAVID FORMAN
September 11, 2007 16:58
4 minute read.
Counterpoint: Morality test

daivd forman . (photo credit: Rabbis for Human Rights)

The following test has only one question. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally. The test features a fictional situation in which you will have to make an immediate decision. You're in Israel. There is chaos all around. Hizbullah is hurling Katyushas on the North and Hamas is firing Kassams on the South. Islamic Jihad is shooting self-propelled grenades at Ben-Gurion Airport and on downtown Jerusalem. Syria has massed troops on the border, poised to attack. And Iran is preparing to launch long-range missiles at Tel Aviv. You are a freelance photo-journalist, caught in the middle of a disaster of potentially biblical proportions. People are in a state of shock, wandering around aimlessly. Some are buried beneath the rubble of their own houses. Others are being rushed to hospitals in ambulances. Blankets cover the bodies of those killed. Tent cities are everywhere, filled to capacity with suddenly homeless people. Fire trucks are using their last water to put out the raging fires. War is unleashing all its destructive fury. You find yourself outside the Knesset, which has just been hit by cluster bombs dropped from an enemy plane that slipped under the air defenses. You see a man floundering about. He's fighting for his life, trying not to be crushed by the falling debris. You move closer. Somehow, he looks familiar. Stunned, you realize who the man is - Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. You notice that he is about to step on one of those cluster bombs. You have two options: You can save his life, or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph documenting the death of the titular leader of the Jewish people. Here's the question, and please give a truthful response: Would you select high-contrast color film, or go with the classic simplicity of black and white? THIS FICTIONAL scenario could easily turn into a frightening reality. There is a legendary poster of the late disgraced president of the United States, Richard Nixon, with the words: "Would you buy a used a car from this man?" That sums up what the public feels about the prime minister. Would we trust Ehud Olmert to navigate the country through potential dangers that await us - many of which, given his past history, could be of his own making? Olmert represents all that is wrong with our country's leadership. His assault on decent government knows no limits. His abuse of power is relentless. Accusations of corruption have followed him throughout his public career (where there is so much smoke, there must be fire). And, by leading the country prematurely into a war he didn't know how to execute, with strategic and tactical goals ill-defined, where soldiers were sent to their deaths unprepared and the home front left defenseless, and never expressing remorse for these fatal transgressions - Ehud Olmert will be remembered as Israel's worst prime minister. Beyond the utter failure of the Second Lebanon War, whereby Olmert reneged on his promise to return kidnapped soldiers Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, let's consider other aspects of his stewardship. He speaks about the travesty of justice that sees Holocaust survivors living below the poverty line. But the recent accord on the allotted stipend for those who survived the ashes of Auschwitz falls far short of Olmert's promise that they would live out their days in dignity. Despite his promise to improve the lot of the weaker elements of society, the minimum wage is not raised; the handicapped go unrewarded and single parents are disregarded. His promise to dismantle illegal Jewish settlements has yet to be fulfilled. He assures the residents of Sderot and Kiryat Shmona that their schools will be reinforced, but they remain unprotected. He painstakingly empathizes with women who are physically abused, but appoints as vice premier a man convicted of abusing a female soldier. His pledge to respect the independence of the court system is undermined by his continual support for his justice minister, who has been waging a war to politicize the judiciary. He lauds the state comptroller's and auditor-general's work, only to assault the comptroller's integrity and end the auditor-general's term of office because their respective reports fault him. Instead of welcoming the Winograd Committee's findings on the conduct of the war, he employs every trick to postpone the truth coming to light. Finally, that Gilad Schalit remains in captivity reflects the bankruptcy of Olmert's commitments in every area of his governance. Alas, he does not stand alone. He has successfully managed to survive by building a coalition of hacks and sycophants. Olmert and his entire government are the personification of prime minister Levi Eshkol's statement: "I never promised to keep my promise!" Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus said: "Repent one day before your death" (Pirkei Avot, 2:10). His students asked: "How is it possible to repent one day before one's death, since a person doesn't know when he shall die?" He replied: "A person should repent every day, lest he die tomorrow." (Avot de Rabbi Natan). During this season of soul-searching and atonement, I urge Olmert and his obsequious ministers to repent by resigning from public office, lest, because of their multiple sins, more Israelis suffer, and possibly die tomorrow.


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