Thursday, August 17, 2006

Returning to Normal - Scandals Rock Israel

The Israeli media is beside itself with Monday-morning analyses and calls for this one and that one to resign in the wake of the less than decisive outcome of the 34-day operation in southern Lebanon. But with the flimsy ceasefire still holding (despite a false alarm sounding of air raid sirens this morning in northern Israel), the attention of the country has turned to two new ethical/political scandals which certainly can be seen as the first salvoes in the bitter internal struggle over the aftermath of Lebanon 2006.

The first scandal involves IDF Chief-of-Staff Dan Halutz. The newspaper Ma'ariv published a story - apparently accurate in its details - that on July 12, the first day of the Lebanon crisis, during the first hours as word was reaching the General Staff of the abduction of soldiers and the deaths of 8 others, Halutz took time off from what must have been feverish deliberations in the Kiryah (the Israeli Pentagon in Tel Aviv) to call his stockbroker and order him to sell off his entire (and not particularly significant) portfolio. With news of this scandal, it is now a foregone conclusion that Halutz's days are numbered. But in today's Haaretz, Yisrael Harel delineates between this shocking stock scandal and the real reason that Halutz ought to resign or be dismissed. Watch as Halutz resigns over the stock scandal, not over his incompetent managment of the military operation.

The second scandal, unrelated to the Lebanon fiasco, but emerging at this moment, involves PM Ehud Olmert. I've already posted information about Olmert's long history of corruption and scandal which clearly contributed to the poor showing of his party Kadima in the March, 2006 elections. One of the most glaring aspects of Olmert's financial misconduct has been over his family's personal real estate transactions. Today Israel's State Comptroller has informed Ehud and Eliza Olmert that they will be summoned for an investigation over their recent purchase of a home on 8 Cremieux Street in Jerusalem's fashionable German Colony. Apparently, they paid a price which is at least $500,000 less than the fair market price of the home. It is significant enough of a scandal for Ari Shavit of Haaretz to declare Olmert a "dead man walking."

I've called long ago for the resignations of Halutz, Olmert, and Amir Peretz, so there can be no doubt why I am choosing to hilight these two stories. Given the bitter mood of the country, it seems hard to see how either man can last for very long. So unless I am engaging in wishful thinking, expect a major devolution of the current Israeli government in the not so distant future. Leadership turmoil in Israel is just another way that Hizbollah, Syria, and Iran will be able to claim victory over the defeated "Zionist entity."

It looks like there will be no silver lining in the black cloud of Lebanon 2006.

1 comment:

  1. ... and Olmert's replacement will be ...?

    Here's one vote for Bibi.