It's embarrassing to be an Israeli

Once this country dealt with hard issues. Now it runs from them.

entebbe 224.63 gpo (photo credit: GPO)
entebbe 224.63 gpo
(photo credit: GPO)
Once, many years ago, we were proud to say we were Israelis. Israel's accomplishments in agriculture, settlement and science were internationally acclaimed, and the Israeli army was our pride. We all recall the world's applause after the Entebbe operation, when we proved that nothing was too far for us, and nothing too difficult. We didn't negotiate with murderous terrorists, we fought them. We didn't trade in blood. Anyone who attacked us paid for doing so. We rescued our brothers even from the grip of distant savages. Where did we go wrong? Today we want to hide our faces in shame as Israel deals with Hizbullah and frees murderers in exchange for corpses. The world blinks at our weak leadership, our paralysis and the loss of our will to defend ourselves. Last week Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset's Security Affairs Committee: "With 270,000 Arabs [in Jerusalem], there will be more tractors in Jerusalem." The deputy prime minister, convicted sex offender Haim Ramon, declared that we have to get rid of the Arab neighborhoods because murderous terrorists come from them. Along these lines, he could have suggested that we have to "get rid of" the village of Abu Snan because one of its residents blew himself up in Nahariya; or "get rid of" of Jaffa because one of its residents drove a murderer to the Dolphinarium in Tel Aviv? Does Ramon advocate transferring Kfar Manda to the Palestinian Authority because one of its residents murdered a policeman in Jerusalem? Has Ramon taken up the old, extreme right-wing slogan "No Arabs = No Terrorists"? ANYONE WHO suggests dividing Jerusalem because he can't deal with a security problem is an embarrassment. It's hard to fathom whence comes this loss of will, this inability to deal with difficulties. Once Israel dealt with hard issues; now it runs from them. Gilad Schalit is not in Entebbe. He's in Gaza, within walking distance. The sole item on the government's agenda should be a military operation to free him and destroy Hamas - but instead the government is arguing over whether to free 400 murderers or 800 murderers. It's embarrassing to be an Israeli led by the likes of Olmert, Haim Ramon, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and Shaul Mofaz. As if this were not enough, added to these disgraces are Olmert's scandals. This prime minister is apparently the most corrupt Israeli leader since King Ahab, yet Ruhama Avraham-Balila, the ministerial liaison to the Knesset, a few weeks ago said of his various scandals: "This is not the first investigation, not the second investigation, not the third investigation, not the fourth or fifth, and I don't know if it will be the last. So what? Who really cares?" Who indeed? She herself is under an ongoing criminal investigation on suspicion of having accepted a bribe from Agrexco. MILLIONS OF honest people live in this country, working hard to support their families. They pay taxes. They serve in the military. Their children serve in the military. But the prime minister and his cronies have been mocking us all, asking, "So what? Who really cares?" We care. What angers us most? That our prime minister can be bought for a few thousand dollars? The Book of Exodus states that bribes blind the eyes of the clear-sighted. But Olmert cannot be accused of blindness - he sank to the depths of corruption with his eyes wide open. Maybe we are angriest because he treats all Israelis as if we were fools; because he stayed in office years after his corruption was exposed because he was so sure he would eventually get away with it. I accuse the prime minister of shaming millions of Israelis. I accuse him of causing the world to see Israel as a den of thieves, takers of bribes and kickbacks. Olmert was furious about leaks from his police interrogations. Leaks are a serious matter, but thievery is worse, and bribery worse yet. A small-time thief breaks a window and steals from one house. A corrupt politician steals from everyone. "Since my first days in the Prime Minister's Office… I have been forced to defend myself against ceaseless attacks on the part of self-named justice-seekers who have made the goal of deposing me one in which the ends justify all the means," Olmert said in announcing his impending resignation. I am very proud to be one of the "self-named justice-seekers." If the nation's leader has no integrity, and if the legal system is too slow to stop him before he causes irreversible damage, it is the duty of all "self-named justice-seekers" to struggle so Israelis will not be ashamed. The writer is a National Union MK.