Olmert Again - Questioning the source

Ousted due to corruption, the former leader of the country assumes the role of elder statesmen counseling his nation on foreign policy.  While to American readers this may sound like former President Richard Nixon, I’m actually referring to the previous Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert. 


On today’s New York Times’ Op-Ed page, Olmert, (who left office under a cloud of criticism for his two military ventures into both Lebanon and Gaza), aims advice at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet in both of these military conflicts and due to his mishandling of them, Israel now faces even greater threats.


To the north and during the 2006 Lebanon War, when Olmert had the opportunity to truly set Hezbollah back, he choked.  By quitting the campaign before it was complete, he transmitted to Hezbollah that he was unwilling to do what was necessary.  In turn, they read his weakness, adjusted their game plan and after Israel retreated, decided they weren’t going to ever take it again.  They armed themselves to the teeth with the help of Iran.  Today, over 40,000 rockets line the border able to reach further into Israel and cause more harm than ever before.


To the south and in Gaza it’s even worse.  In the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza conflict, with the stated aim of stopping rocket fire into Israel, missiles continue to be fired from Gaza on southern Israel.  Moreover, Operation Cast Lead as it became known, was a public relations disaster for Israel and haunts any potential, future operations due to the manner in which it was handled.


Today, as Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick predicted and pointed out in 2010, “the terror group that rules Gaza has missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv. It has advanced antitank missiles. Quoting a Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida she makes the point, “We are now stronger than before and during the war, and our silence over the past two years was only for evaluating the situation.”


In both conflicts Olmert was incompetent.


But in his Op-Ed, he lectures both Netanyahu and Abbas on the current imbroglio over U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state, offering his own previous plan, which had been, for all intents and purposes shunned

by Abbas.


But after rehashing it and perhaps without even knowing it, he inserts the flaw that any land for peace deal inherently has in it. 


He writes, “The window of opportunity is limited.  Israel will not always find itself sitting across the table from Palestinian leaders like Mr. Abbas and the prime minister, Salam Fayyad, who object to terrorism and want peace.”  And indeed that may be true and precisely the reason why a land for peace deal is flawed.  It’s exactly because as he states in the next sentence “…future Palestinian leaders might abandon the idea of two states and seek a one-state solution, making reconciliation impossible.”


Hence, even if Abbas and Fayyad were serious about peace and Israel does indeed retreat to the vulnerable pre-’67 borders, what happens when a different leader takes control of Judea and Samaria? 


What happens when a radical Islamist cleric wins the election in this new state of Palestine and rallies the people to drive the Jews into the sea? 


What happens when Hamas wins the popular vote in the West Bank?  Or the terrorist organization simply overlooks any election and declares and coup?  Then what? 


But bad advice from Olmert on Israel’s security is not the only reason to ignore his harmful recommendations.  Beyond his dreadful military track record, Olmert was indicted by a Jerusalem District Court on charges of fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents and tax evasion. Shamefully, his was the first indictment of anyone who had ever held the office of Israeli Prime Minister.


For friends of Israel to accept counsel from Olmert on security issues, would be like the U.S. Government listening to Nixon on how to win in Iraq and Afghanistan.  No doubt they’d question the source.  Wouldn’t you?

Abe Novick is a writer and communications consultant and can be reached at [email protected]