Olmert's Greatest Miscalculation

We expected Winograd to be a whitewash.

Batya Medad,

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Last summer, when it was clear to everyone, even the Israeli government, that there had to be a "commission of inquiry" to investigate and affix blame for the badly-managed war, the public wanted an independent commission. That wasn't what Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wanted. He did not want ambitious politicians, from the coalition and the opposition, and "independent do-gooders" to have control over the investigation.
This is Israel, where common sense does not rule.

So, Olmert appointed his own "inspection team." The Israeli public was disappointed. It was just another example of political corruption. Everyone expected the Winograd Commission - which met in secret, unlike Israel's previous commissions - to find ways of whitewashing the disaster. That's common sense, no?

But this is Israel, where common sense does not rule. Just like the elections that brought Ariel Sharon to power. When we celebrated the election of pro-Eretz Yisrael politicians, we were certain that the new government would be the best ever. But what did we get? We got Disengagement, the unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif and northern Samaria. Jewish communities were demolished and thousands of innocent, patriotic Israeli citizens were exiled from their homes. Their businesses were destroyed and now, almost two years later, most are listlessly idling their days in "caravilla" (temporary, trailer-type homes) refugee camps, buying food with the last few cents of their "compensation."

And what did the Winograd Commission report say?

Yes, it put most of the blame on the politicians in charge, Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz.

Of course, we all knew that Olmert and Peretz were out of their league trying to run the country. That's no surprise. But the report also had some serious things to say about the top army brass.

Personally, I think that the ones most to blame are Ehud Barak and Kadima Knesset Member Sha'ul Mofaz. Barak is a former IDF Chief of Staff and the one competing with Olmert for recognition as Israel's worst Prime Minister. Remember, he was Prime Minister when the intifada became most deadly, and his government didn't last. Now, he considers himself rehabilitated and is running against Peretz and others to head the Labor party. Mofaz is also a former Chief of Staff and Minister of Defense. They built today's IDF.

The question is: Why didn't the Winograd Commission concentrate its criticism on the army?
We all knew that Olmert and Peretz were out of their league.

I think that because most of us had such little faith in the commission's members, it bothered them. The commission is made up of good people and they wanted to show that Olmert didn't control them. That's why they made a point of blaming him over all others. If the same people had been appointed by the Knesset or courts as an independent commission, they most probably would have been more even-handed.

Of course, Olmert's still in power and I'm pretty sure that the government, or at least this Knesset, will hold onto their seats until the two-year pension kicks in. Hem lo freiyerim! They're not fools, to miss out on such a good deal.

But in the meantime, down in the Heartland, we're working hard and praying. If a cool operator like Olmert can miscalculate, what about ordinary folks like us?