Wednesday, August 08, 2007

  • Wednesday, August 08, 2007
  • Elder of Ziyon
I've heard of tone-deafness, but this is ridiculous:
By Brad A. Greenberg, Staff Writer

[JERUSALEM, Aug. 8] "You are not to directly quote the prime minister," Ehud Olmert's press handler told a group of American Jewish journalists I've been traveling with this week.

This directive came as we sat in a conference room in the leader of Israel's Jerusalem offices. It seemed a ridiculous request, but the prime minister's fears made more sense once the meeting was over.

When Olmert walked confidently into the conference room, he shook some hands, said 'Shalom' and posed for a photo with a few journalists. Dressed in a navy suit and red tie, he sat tall, speaking in fluent English as he cracked jokes and invited our questions -- and that's when the meeting went south.

Asked about the hundreds of millions of dollars sent by American Jews to help Israel during and after last summer's war with Hezbollah, Olmert responded that the donations were very important -- but not necessary.

If a giver wants to give and the receiver wants to get, Olmert said, God bless that situation.

And as we've seen this week, God -- or human resourcefulness -- has blessed a quick reconstruction of northern Israel. But Olmert's comments seemed particularly ungrateful because he spoke not only to the American journalists, but also to some top officials of the United Jewish Communities (UJC).

Through the UJC's Israel Emergency Campaign last summer, North American federations sent $360 million to Israel. UJC is also the sponsor of this media trip, which was designed to show reporters and editors how American donations have been used. UJC officials have shuttled our group, including editors and writers from major Jewish publications in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and L.A., to show us the pain inflicted by war.

They arranged this forum with the prime minister to allow him to speak to the most philanthropic Diaspora community -- and this is what he says?

...Olmert has been heavily criticized for myriad mistakes in last summer's war, and even now, 12 months after the ceasefire, he appears oblivious to the situation on the ground.

I've spent the past three days in Northern Israel, near Haifa, Nahariya, the Galilee - and most everyone I've met has talked at some length about the lingering and traumatic affects of having been bombarded by Katyusha rockets for 34 days last summer.

Take, for instance, Shiri Havkin, who lives in the town of Rosh Pina. Havkin runs a small business, Drora's Herb Farm, out of her home; it was started by her mother, the Israeli singer Drora Havkin, and the younger Havkin took over when her mother died in 1995. She nearly lost it all last summer when tourism stopped -- her savings shriveled and she bounced so many checks the bank froze her activity.

She only stayed afloat thanks to a low-interest loan from a small-business development center that was supported by UJC. Another war, though, might be enough for Havkin to give up on the Galilee.

"If there will be another war, I will have to sell my house," she said. "I'm sorry to say but I cannot stand another war."

Olmert dismissed such sentiments as isolated and insignificant.

There is no trauma, he said: Nothing is collapsing; the north is booming; income is higher than ever; employment is higher than ever.

And, in fact, his claims are partially true. Israel's economy is once again going gangbusters. People have returned to the north, and the most visible remnants of war are a few blackened trees on the hillsides close to the border. Nahariya's streets and boardwalk are filled day and night with young revelers.

But that doesn't account for the emotional wreckage inside many Israelis.

Numerous psychologists and social workers told our group that post-traumatic stress disorder is a public-health crisis in northern Israel. Rami Benbenishty of Hebrew University said he'd found that 10 percent to 11 percent of children in Nahariya are in "critical, immediate need" of psychological treatment. They suffer not from war fatigue, but concussion paranoia. Debilitating fear is literally a sneeze away for some.

But what did the leader of Israel say when told many psychologists would not agree with his analysis of how war has affected his citizens?

He said it was time to change the psychologist.
We've seen leaders in history who didn't care about what their people thought. We've seen leaders who felt that they knew what was best for the nation in the face of facts and reason. We've seen leaders who spat in the face of their citizens when they pointed out the problems.

But I am not aware of any democracy that has ever had a leader who acted with such smugness, such dismissiveness, when his approval rating was in the single digits. The disconnect between what is in Olmert's head and reality is a gaping canyon. And yet, because of the peculiarities of Israel's parliamentary system, he has no reason to fear being voted out any time soon - by which time the amount of damage he can do to Israel is unimaginable.

Olmert is now acting as a king, not a servant of the people. And his reign is not just a mistake - it is a catastrophe.

UPDATE: See this article at Human Events.

EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

search eoz




follow me

Follow by Email


Elder: elder -at- elderofziyon dot com
Mrs. Elder: mrs.elder -at-



For $18 donation

Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts Ever


Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options

One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!



The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

Algemeiner: "Fiercely intelligent and erudite"

Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

Interesting Blogs


Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria American Jews Amnesty analysis anti-semitism apartheid arab refugees Arafat archaeology art ASHREI B'tselem bahrain bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz book review breaking the silence Cardozo Chanukah Christians conspiracy theories Cyprus Daphne Anson Davis report DCI-P double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada EoZNews eoztv Erekat EU Euro-Mid Observer Fake Civilians 2014 Fatah featured Features fisking flotilla Forest Rain free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian gunness Haaretz hamas Hamas war crimes hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor Hypocrisy ICRC Ilan Pappe impossible peace incitement Indonesia international law intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Kairos Karl Vick ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Lebanon leftists Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Malaysia max blumenthal McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Miftah Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco music Muslim Brotherhood Nakba Natural gas Nazi News nftp NGO NIF norpac NYT Occupation offbeat Omar Barghouti Opinion oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peter Beinart Petra MB poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist purimshpiel Qaradawi Qassam calendar Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals reference Richard Falk rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shujaiyeh Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Speech stamps Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman Tunisia Turkey UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks work accident X-washing Yemen zahran zionist attack zoo Zvi

Blog Archive