Where is the Leadership?

When it comes to the decisions Israel makes, in retrospect, I think that the last time I trusted the powers-that-be there was when Yitzchak Shamir was running the country.

Arlene Peck

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There was a time when I felt safe living in America. I thought we actually had a government that looked out for us. Even more amazing was how safe I felt when I lived in Israel not so many years ago. I felt confident that nothing bad would really ever happen to me. Hey, Israeli security was the best and the Israelis were a tough breed, who would not let their guard down, ever. And, in any event, I knew that if I were killed by any of Israel's enemies, then my death would be avenged.

So, what happened? I am no longer a Democrat or a Republican. I'm trying to decide if I am really a Conservative Independent.

I never thought I would see the day when I disliked everyone running my government so much that I dreaded a trip to the polls. Me! A woman who in her entire life never missed a chance to vote.

When it comes to the decisions Israel makes, in retrospect, I think that the last time I trusted the powers-that-be there was when Yitzchak Shamir was running the country. Since then, I have watched, incredulously, as the Jewish State turns into a banana republic, whose leaders jump every time one of my misinformed or incompetent presidents snaps his fingers.

No one, however, has been worse than Ehud Olmert. The man is a disaster. I believe him to be a dangerous, impotent fool, who is putting not only his country but world Jewry at risk every time he makes a decision. What is wrong with this picture? Olmert led Israel into a justified war to ensure the return of several kidnapped soldiers and to avenge the death of six others who had been killed during Hamas and Hizbullah raids into Israel. That was the only good thing that Olmert has ever done.

How can the people of Israel allow this man to continue in a position of leadership? Olmert and his inept team lack leadership. His self-serving disregard for the rest of the nation he is supposed to represent has created a situation in which cities that were once safe are now vulnerable and unable to respond appropriately. Soldiers went into battle with little training. Planning was apparently minimal and equipment was lacking. Disgraceful. We watched as Olmert managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We watched as he managed to pit Jew against Jew, and carry out his plan to evacuate towns by sending in soldiers on horses to confront unarmed children and other civilians. While the only thing Israel received by giving away Gaza was the formation of a new terrorist state within Jewish territory.

Olmert's war - begun for all the right reasons, supported by 80% of Israeli citizens; given a green light by the US and a pass by the rest of the world - was so poorly waged that for the first time in her history, Israeli soldiers began revolting. Friction between Olmert and General Dan Halutz reached the point where the general apparently stopped confiding in him. And let's not forget how he wavered about sending in ground forces until the very end of the conflict. When ground troops were finally ordered into Lebanon, the war had only hours to go before the cease-fire deadline.

Not just average soldiers revolted, but also higher echelon officers, including generals, who demanded a change in leadership. The war Olmert waged was supposed to end when three kidnapped soldiers were returned, Hizbullah was disarmed and rockets stopped falling on Israel. None of that happened, of course.

The naval blockade ended and Olmert got what for that? Apparently, Hizbullah is being rearmed and resupplied by Syria and Iran. Fear not! Prime Minister Olmert has won the cooperation and assurances of Kofi Annan and the United Nations that future conflict will be prevented by UNIFIL.

In the middle of the war, this moron stated that the war was going to further his Convergence Plan. Great. Ask the West Bank to provide soldiers for the army, but when the last battle is fought, these men will have no home to return to. The West Bank, according to plan, is to be ceded to our enemies.

Rumor has it that Olmert's government is now thinking of ceding the Golan Heights. He is also talking about once again opening the jails and letting out hundreds of terrorists in another of Israel's famous "good-will" prisoner swaps. Usually a thousand or so for the bodies of three or four Israelis.

Last week, I was deeply saddened when listening to Karnit Goldwasser, the wife of kidnapped soldier Ehud Goldwasser. Karnit and her father-in-law, Shlomo, have been on a nationwide tour of the US, speaking out in an attempt to facilitate the release of her husband and the two other kidnapped Israeli soldiers held by Hamas and Hizbullah.

Karnit spoke about Ehud being abducted on the last day of his military service: "I was home, cooking the best meal for him. It was his birthday and we had a celebration planned. Then, I heard the bad news. Ehud was missing. Six bodies found and he was kidnapped. My mind told me that he was dead, but my heart tells me that he is still alive."

I was appalled to hear how the Israeli government is saying "yes" to United States' demands, while the US pours more of my tax dollars into Lebanon. Where is the concern or the resolve from our leaders in both countries to demand the return home of these kidnapped prisoners? Israel went to war to bring those young men home and they need to do that. What is happening now is an insult to the nation and to Jews everywhere. What sort of message is Olmert and the State of Israel sending to the world by caving in like this?

Both Karnit and Shlomo Goldwasser spoke eloquently, pleading with the Los Angeles Jewish community to assist them and the other families in their efforts to free their sons. She said, "We came here to ask for help. We're meeting with all these people, but we are looking for the one who has the key."

The International Red Cross has been less than helpful. Wow, what a surprise. Karnit told me, "They have travelled many times to help the Lebanese. I see the Red Cross meeting with Hizbullah, but I don't see them meeting with my husband."

Maybe the next administration will secure the release of this woman's husband and the other two soldiers, because, based on what I see from this side of the fence, Olmert sure as hell won't.