Middle Israel: The great Winograd expectation

Even now, Israelis still want to believe the Winograd committee will show Olmert the door.

amotz asa el 88 (photo credit: )
amotz asa el 88
(photo credit: )
There is a sense of expectation in the air. Half-a-year on, and having forgotten nothing and learned nothing, thousands of those who have emerged from the war of summer '06 humiliated, disillusioned, bereaved, displaced, dispossessed, maimed and otherwise victimized are once again placing their hopes on five senior citizens to bang the gong that will pierce our leaders' eardrums and reinvent our own situation: swiftly, miraculously, in one fell swoop, as if with the wave of Harry Potter's wand. And how good it feels to expect. Like a groom under the canopy about to unveil his bride, like a mother in the waning moments of an overdue pregnancy, or a newly licensed driver about to receive his father's car keys, so the gullible in our midst now await next week's belated Winograd Committee report to finally make their day. "Ah, this will have to be it," they tell themselves moments before being confounded by the prime minister's latest brandishing of a hitherto unknown resurrection stone. Now he will finally be made to pay for his arrogance, conceit, haste, frivolity and refusal to assume responsibility, says the Middle Israeli while watching yet another dispiriting newscast bending his flat screen. For what have we asked? Has anyone, God forbid, demanded he be hanged, mutilated or beheaded, or has any of us just compared him with Saddam Hussein, Benito Mussolini or King Charles? All we said is that his botched war - like Begin's, Golda's and Barak's - should make the leader go. In a way, he should be flattered for being lumped with them. "Now," say Winograd's gullible spectators, "now he will finally be shown the door." Well, they then concede, "maybe not expressly, that is - maybe also not with a stroke of his pen. Maybe also not with his lips. And maybe also not with a wink of his eye, or with a nod of his head, or with the pointing of his finger. And, let's face it - maybe also not at all. Most probably, actually." Maybe, that is, those five sorcerers' stone will just transmit something like: "What went wrong in summer '06 we already said in spring '07, but now it's winter '08 and today we want to put things in proportion, we want to remind everyone that Tel Aviv is still there, that Haifa's war bruises have been efficiently whitewashed, that in the Negev the sun still shines in the morning and the winds still blow in the evening, and that in Jerusalem you can still pray to any God at any time of the day." Should that kind of bottom-line emerge come Wednesday, when Eliahu Winograd faces the cameras, how should those who now so innocently expect cataclysm, cope with the hangover, with the realization that just when they expected them, neither the messiah nor his donkey ever showed up? Very simple: Reverse their expectations. ALL WE need to do is understand already now that the real Harry Potter in our midst is not Winograd, but Olmert. This way we win twice: First, our expectations will be satisfied, and second, instead of being depressed we'll be entertained. For even Olmert's many detractors cannot take away from him the one title all agree he earned honestly: Political Magician No. 1. Olmert first impressed the reviewers when he managed what no one else ever did - that is, to start one political term barely entering parliament, and then end that same term as prime minister. If that's not magic, what is? That particular magic is even more remarkable considering that prior to that election, as mayor of Jerusalem, he managed to shrink his own faction, Likud, until it altogether vanished, and to abandon the mayoralty itself to ultra-Orthodoxy, and still proceed from there to the nation's helm! Doesn't this honorably compete with Harry Potter's conversations with snakes? Or take Olmert's setback the day Ariel Sharon appointed both his sworn enemies foreign minister and treasurer. Muggles would have lost face and faded into oblivion. But our hero is a wizard, and while it may be an exercise in futility to ask "how," the incontrovertible fact is that at the end of the day his enemies ended up on bottom and he on top. That is also how the morning after the war, when all squibs and Mudbloods measured what they believed were his shrinking armies, Olmert cast his aphrodisiac spell on the burly, bearded man beyond the pale with the misleadingly female nickname Yvette, bringing him so deep into his bosom that there was no separating the two for 14 months during which Olmert's grip on power was as solid as Putin's on Siberia. Once again the wiz had done his number, emerging from nowhere with a wedge he drove through his detractors so well that many wondered: "Imagine if he had split Hizbullah that way!' Then there was that nuisance, the foreign minister so many mistook for a wizard. But Olmert, like all real wizards, figured that when left alone on stage, all would see what he knew all along - that she didn't have the magic. And wasn't he right. Or those clowns from Labor, whom Olmert has long ago got hooked in his cabinet, where will they go? He's placed outside their doors a photo of the wolf they all dread most - Bibi, that Lord Voldemort who makes things move without touching them. SEEN THIS WAY, Olmert now has us bracing for the mother of all his magics. Judging by the promos he has so far released, this one should be even more startling than everything we have already seen. First there were the simple buyouts of potential deserters. A ministry-without-portfolio to Ruhama Avraham, a deputy ministry to Majali Wahaba, a Knesset committee's chair to David Tal and more responsibilities for Minister Ya'acov Edri. Squibs can cringe, but for the wizard, such spoils constitute the war's damage control. An even better foretaste of what awaits us after Wednesday was offered with the spell cast on Shas, where Olmert arrived riding a broom and carrying the one present that more than any other could mesmerize that lot. "You shouldn't have," said a starry-eyed Eli Yishai as he carefully unwrapped the silvery box out of which emerged the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Olmert looked at his prey and knew it had been trapped - indefinitely. "Ha," he said to himself as he straightened his sorting hat and vanished in the clouds, "now I know what handing Taiwan to China would feel like." Then again, all that was before Lieberman's wedge evaporated and the wizards of Winograd descended upon Olmert. Now, you say, even Olmert's many shackled, hooked, trapped and purchased allies can't possibly save him, right? Wrong, unless of course you're still in the business of denying Olmert's wizardry - and expecting your own salvation.