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Ari Shavit: Olmert's a ‘Captain Without a Compass’

By Daniel Treiman

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Ha’aretz’s Ari Shavit renders a harsh verdict on the tenure of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Despite Olmert’s “many good qualities,” Shavit writes, the prime minister “has no core. He has no Tablets of Stone. In the most profound sense, he does not know where he came from and where he is going.” And the result, according to Shavit, has been failure on many fronts.

Shavit writes:

These were two important years during which Israel’s prime minister was supposed to strengthen the country before the major historic test of the end of the decade. During these years he was supposed to pursue peace and prepare for war. To prepare the ground for dividing the country and prepare people’s hearts for a struggle for the country. To stop Iran, test Syria and exhaust Hamas. To establish Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish and democratic nation state. To restore to Israel the qualities of a country characterized by excellence. To rehabilitate statesmanship and renew meaningfulness. To provide the state with diplomatic tools, national pride and a sense of direction.

Olmert did none of this. He promised convergence, and changed his mind. He promised an end to the conflict, and disappointed us. He failed in the Second Lebanon War and failed to understand its significance. He did something, but not enough, on the crucial issue of Iran. He is losing precious time before entering negotiations with Syria, he did not formulate an overall and consistent strategy vis-a-vis Hamas and did not prepare the country for a future evacuation of the settlements. He did not spur the nation to stand behind the Israel Defense Forces and strengthen them.

So as far as foreign affairs and security are concerned, the prime minister has stagnated over the past two years. But as far as domestic affairs and society are concerned, Olmert caused tremendous damage. He did not carry out the necessary revolution in the school system. He brought about a destructive revolution in the justice system, surrendered unconditionally to Shas, encouraged centralization in the economy and accepted the widening gaps in society. Under Olmert, Israel has become a reckless country that abandons the weak and helpless. Mutual responsibility has been eroded, social justice has been trampled. Corruption has become widespread.

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