Olmert honors J Street -- a disgrace (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Isi Leibler 03/19/12)
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I must confess I rubbed my eyes in disbelief when I read that former
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had accepted an invitation to be the
keynote speaker at the J Street Conference Gala dinner on March 26.
By doing so, Olmert has sunk to an all-time low, not only destroying
whatever remained of his battered political legacy but also shaming
the state of Israel.
Let me state at the outset that I am acquainted with Olmert and once
admired him. At 28, as the youngest member of Knesset, he developed a
reputation, ironically as a crusader against crime and corruption. A
successful fundraiser and networker, his engaging personality
contributed toward making him the consummate politician. Olmert was
loyal to his supporters and friends and made a distinguished
contribution as health minister. I enthusiastically supported him
when he was candidate for mayor of Jerusalem, campaigning on the
platform of a united city.
Let me also express the hope, for Olmert’s sake as well the
reputation of Israel, that the courts will exonerate him from the
charges currently confronting him (in the Holyland case). Few of us
wish to see yet another former high-profile Israeli leader found
guilty of corruption or consigned to prison.
Something snapped with Olmert when he effectively spurned his
longstanding political roots and developed a penchant for crass
political opportunism. This climaxed when he joined the Kadima
bandwagon and became one of the most enthusiastic promoters of Ariel
Sharon’s devastating unilateral disengagement, paving the way for his
appointment as deputy prime minister and succeeding Sharon.
It was evident that he had lost the plot when on June 9, 2005, in the
course of the disengagement debate, he gave the keynote address to
the left-leaning U.S.-based Israel Policy Forum and in words that
will continue to haunt him for the rest of his life, proclaimed: “We
are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired
of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies.”
These bizarre remarks epitomized the subsequent calamitous course of
action he undertook just a year later, in July 2006, when he launched
the disastrous Second Lebanon War. Consequently, this led to the
control of the Lebanese government by the Iranian surrogate Hezbollah.
The Winograd Committee reviewing the war, whose members had been hand-
picked by Olmert, produced a scathing report, condemning Olmert’s zig-
zagging policies which culminated in “a major and grave missed
opportunity” to inflict a major blow on Hezbollah and restore
Israel’s deterrence. The report employed the term “failure” 190 times
and “flaws” 213 times.
By refusing to accept responsibility and resign, even having the
chutzpah to claim that the findings exonerated and “lifted the moral
stigma” from him, Olmert made a mockery of public accountability.
As prime minister, he continued on his downward spiral and, in a
desperate effort to retrieve his legacy, offered the Palestinians
exorbitant concessions, proclaiming that in the absence of a two-
state solution Israel “would be finished.”
Without consulting the Knesset or Cabinet, he unilaterally offered
Mahmoud Abbas 98.1 percent of the West Bank, foregoing defensible
borders and Israel’s security presence along the Jordan River.
Furthermore, he agreed to divide Jerusalem and was even willing to
yield jurisdiction of the Temple Mount to a multinational committee.
In addition, he offered to allow a number of Arab refugees to settle
in Israel - with no reference to restitution for the hundreds of
thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries expelled from their
homes in 1948.
Abbas, like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, turned down Olmert’s
proposals and failed to even make a counter-offer, merely adamantly
reiterating that the “right of return of Palestinian refugees” -
which would result in the demise of the Jewish state - was
Since his ouster as prime minister, Olmert has engaged in a campaign
to revise history, blaming Netanyahu for the breakdown of peace talks
with Abbas and insisting that had he remained in office, he could
have consummated a final peace settlement with the Palestinians.
Desperate for any platform, Olmert’s fall from grace reached its
nadir when he stooped to the depths of accepting the role of keynote
speaker for J Street.
J Street is an organization comprised of American Jews who do not
consider it unconscionable to canvass the president of the United
States to pressure Israel. It justifies this on the grounds that
Israelis need “tough love,” comparing us to children on drugs who
must be pressured to do what is good for us or impounding car keys
from a drunken friend. These trendy American Jews have the gall to
canvass the Obama administration to force the democratically elected
government of Israel to act contrary to its will in relation to
national security issues impacting on the life and death of its
But beyond this, in the midst of the Gaza conflict - orchestrated by
Olmert - when all sections of the Israeli political spectrum,
including the far-left wing Meretz, were united in support of the
war, J Street refused to back Israel. Applying moral equivalence to
Israel and Hamas it claimed “that there are many who recognize
elements of truth on both sides of this gaping divide” and reproached
Israel for launching “a disproportionate response.” J Street stated
that “we recognize that neither Israelis nor Palestinians have
monopoly of right and wrong” and accused the Israelis of “lacking
sanity and moderation” in their attitude toward Hamas.
Only last week as hundreds of missiles were being launched against
Israeli civilians, J Street, again applying moral equivalence,
expressed “concern” over attacks on Israel and IDF “airstrikes on
Gaza that killed over a dozen Palestinian civilians.” They were
subsequently obliged to retract and apologize as all but two of those
killed were terrorists.
For Olmert to be so desperate as to appear before such a discredited
body, which had even maligned him, reflects his pathetic desperation
for a platform in order to fabricate a contrived historical legacy.
One would feel sorry for him were it not for the anti-Israeli
propaganda that, as a former prime minister, he provides to our
The writer’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com.
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