Reporter's Notebook: The eyes have it

Israeli's react to the news that Olmert will serve 6 years in jail.

Olmert in court 370 (photo credit: Pool/Yediot)
Olmert in court 370
(photo credit: Pool/Yediot)
At the eye clinic at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem on Tuesday morning, there weren’t many people paying attention to the happenings an hour away in the Tel Aviv court room where Ehud Olmert and his coconspirators in the Holyland fiasco were sentenced.
Only a handful of patients glanced at the TV screen on the wall that – with the sound turned off – broadcast the judge’s sentencing of the former prime minister to six years in jail for his part in the scandal.
“It’s a happy day to see him be put away,” said a spry white-haired grandfatherly type to nobody in particular.
“Now [former president Moshe] Katsav will have some company,” a younger, wellbuffed t-shirted man with a shaved head, chimed in.
“Except they might need to release him to make room for Olmert and all these others,” added a woman next to him who was waiting with her husband for his appointment.
That jaded sarcasm spread verbally only as far as the TV reached. The rest of the patients sprawled across the chaotic clinic were either too involved with their own medical issues, too disgusted to watch the shame of a prime minister of Israel being sentenced to prison or just couldn’t relate to the high-finance malfeasance that only the other half is privy to.
These were the middle and lower class of Israeli society – some who were waiting at times for hours for their turn with their doctor because they can’t afford a “Sharap” private appointment. They’re the ones, the silent majority, who have nothing to do with bribery, building monstrosities or kickbacks.
For them, Olmert’s sentencing has no impact on their lives – it’s not going to change their situation.
But there was no escaping the bitterness and sense of justice served expressed by those around the TV.
“You know, it won’t be so bad. He’ll be collecting his pension and won’t have any place to spend it. So when he gets out, he’ll have it good,” said the wife’s husband.
The wife answered, “He’s had it good his whole life, now it’s time for him to suffer for a while.”
Just then, a doctor emerged from an office and called their name. Glancing at the TV screen one more time, they got up, followed him in and shut the door.