Sunday, April 29, 2007

Post-Olmert Israel

I must admit I feel a bit bad for Ehud Olmert. Saddled with the responsibility of leading one of the first legitimate centrist political movements in Israeli history after it had been decapitated in infancy by Ariel Sharon's stroke, Olmert found himself, a mere mortal, trying to do the work of a Titan. Given that he lacked the founding-father credibility of his predecessor, not to mention any sort of charisma, he was bound to be a bit of a disappointment. I must emphasize, though, that I feel only a bit bad as I watch the Prime Minister suffer all the slings and arrows that the outrageous fortunes of Israeli politics can hurl at him. It's one thing to not quite measure up to expectations. It's quite another to lead one's country into a disaster. As the Winograd Commission's recent report documents in scathing detail, Olmert and his top civilian and military advisors, notably the Secretary of Defense and the IDF's Chief of Staff, were headache-inducingly incompetent in the way they conducted last summer's war against Hezbollah. Reading the report, it is difficult to imagine precisely what these people thought their attack was going to accomplish (as a side note, I do find it depressingly ironic that the report, with modified names, would be a piercingly accurate description of the current American administration's prosecution of the war in Mesopotamia).

In any case, what's done is done. Looking forward to a post-Olmert environment (call me foolish, but when mass demonstrations and his own Cabinet Ministers are calling for his resignation, I don't see how he can hang on for very long, protests to the contrary aside), the question is how the Israeli people will react to this whole mess. Will they retreat to the false comfort of a Neanderthal like Netanyahu, or will they somehow choose a government with a mandate to tackle the painful choices that Israel must make in the coming years? As many people have pointed out, Israel is by most measures in very good shape at the moment. The economy is humming along nicely (growth measured recently at 8%), with the high-tech sector booming and foreign direct investment up, but Israel's political class seems completely bereft of leadership capabilities (anyone noticing a theme on this blog?). In the last twenty years, the bulk of Israeli popular opinion has moved in the direction of some kind of accommodative peace with its regional neighbors. The question is whether or not that energy (or should it be called exhaustion?) can be channeled into concrete results absent strong leadership. Oddly enough, Israel's post-Olmert future could be quite interesting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed.

Brilliant design:) found on this site [url=]Discount Car Covers[/url]