It's the opposite of the Republican convention tagline in Minneapolis/St Paul. Because of graft at the top, in Israel these days, country comes last, concludes Ben Caspit in today's Hebrew daily, Ma’ariv. It's a heartfelt rant, which sheds a light on the rancour inside the leadership. English translation below:
Cartoon of Ehud Olmert in criminal mode by Ben Heine.
It is difficult to believe that not long ago they yearned for each other, conducted a torrid love affair behind Amir Peretz’s back and counted the days until they could unite publicly. Here they are, the two Ehuds, the prime minister and the defense minister, walking together towards a common future. Ha.
Their common future looks today like Hell. They are immersed in a sea of toxic gastric juices, giving each other grief, sitting opposite each other in the cabinet meeting with burning, terrifying eyes, pecking at each other’s livers and saying things about one another that are hard to imagine. Barak has succeeded in causing Olmert to again like, a little bit, sometimes, Tzippi Livni. Olmert will yet return Barak to the arms of Shimon Peres. Yes, things are that bad.
The problem is that both of them are right. Barak was right when he forced Olmert to vacate the scene, Olmert is right in what he says and thinks about Barak. This is neither the first time, nor the last, that our state leadership looks like a street fight between gangs in Harlem. It happened to Rabin and Peres, it happened to Bibi and Mordechai (and Levy, and Meridor, and many more), it happened to Barak and Ramon (and Levy, and Sarid, and everyone), it happened to Sharon and Bibi, it happened to Shamir, it happened to Ben-Gurion, it happened to Eshkol, it happened to Begin. It will happen to everyone.
The system of government in force here is destructive, impossible, it does not enable governing, decision-making, making long-term plans. The system makes everything personal, here and now. Everything is conditional. Every morning anew you have to count hands, bribe your way to the end of the day. No one is willing to see the other succeed at anything. Barak will not let Olmert make peace with the Syrians, because he wants to do it himself. Everyone makes their personal calculations. There is also a country here, but in the existing system the country comes last. Long live the primaries.
Besides that, yesterday was a sad day. In the cabinet meeting, and in general. A day of a sweeping police recommendation to file an unprecedented indictment against Israel’s prime minister. Eight o’clock in the evening, like clockwork, upon the start of the news editions, was also the hour of the recommendation. The public has long since lost its confidence in the prime minister, in his government, but also in the rest of the systems. The police, for example. The rule of law. Everyone, in the end, has their eye on 8:00 PM. And then too, what was published is far from what will happen. We are still waiting for the indictment against [president] Moshe Katsav for rape. Olmert will be indicted, that is clear, the question is for what, bribery? It’s not certain that it will be for that. But what difference does it make.
What was Olmert hinting at when he spoke about Barak’s sensitive leaks? About his damage to security? Two things are burning up the prime minister: The first is the fact that Barak said that Olmert had delayed the truce in Gaza when the reality, says Olmert, is the opposite. Barak, in his insane paranoia, was opposed to convening the security cabinet, and preferred to decide everything alone, just with Olmert, in a secret partnership.
The second thing is related to covert operations, in which Barak is trying to forcibly take credit he does not deserve. In Olmert’s drawer lie transcripts of recordings of discussions and work meetings that prove how Barak twists reality in his favor. Olmert tossed these transcripts in Barak’s face, but what does it matter now. It’s all history. So is Olmert.
This coming Wednesday, US [envoy] General Jones is supposed to come to Israel, in an attempt to organize the bottom line in advance of the end of George Bush’s term, with regard to the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The Americans very much want to make a dramatic statement at the UN General Assembly session towards the end of September, they are talking about a presidential address, a joint document, a declaration of one kind or another, various formats and ideas. They want to promote this with the Israeli government, but where is the Israeli government? There is no Israeli government.
There is only Armageddon, investigations, leaks, reports, clashes, passions, envy, hatred and conflicting interests of candidates for the primary and just plain candidates. There is no law and no judge. A retired Supreme Court justice recommends on television that cabinet ministers receive psychological therapy, and a prime minister all but strangles his defense minister before his astounded ministers, and his defense minister, the same evening, at a gathering of the Labor Party (there is such a thing) in Haifa, reminds us: “Don’t forget, we’re all brothers.” As if we had forgotten.