Israel does not have a shortage of brilliant thinkers.
Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick sits with Richard Landes, the creator of Pallywood the movie, during a discussion with American bloggers in Tel Aviv.
Caroline Glick writes today on “Sharansky’s Democracy Lesson” in the Jerusalem Post.
Here are a few paragraphs from her honest and hard-hitting column:
This week last year, Israel was in the midst of a terrible war which its government refused to acknowledge. As rockets and missiles rained down on northern Israel, the Olmert government refused to call up IDF reservists or launch a ground campaign in Lebanon. Ignoring reality, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stood before the graduating class of the IDF’s National Security College and announced that Israel had won.
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Olmert said, “If the military campaign were to end today, already today it could be said with certainty that the face of the Middle East has changed… Now [Hizbullah] can never threaten this nation that it will fire missiles at it – because this nation is contending with these missiles and beating them.”…
…Here we are, one year on, Olmert is still the prime minister, and he is still telling lies at National Security College graduation ceremonies. While last year he ignored the reality of war, at his commencement speech Tuesday, Olmert ignored the coming war. By his telling, there is no war on the horizon because, “In the north and in the east live millions of people who want tranquility, a quality of life and quiet – just like we do.”
…The Saudi photo-op policy is not the only delusional policy the Olmert government is advancing. There is also Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s new missile defense plan. This week Barak announced that within three years, he wishes to develop and deploy a missile shield that will block everything from Palestinian Kassam rockets to Iranian Shihab ballistic missiles.
Although Israel needs a missile defense system, the plan that Barak outlines is sheer fantasy. First, there is no chance that Israel will be able to build and deploy a comprehensive missile defense within three years. Second, there is no chance than any system will be able to defend Israel in the eminently foreseeable event that it is attacked by thousands of missiles in a joint Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian and Iranian missile offensive.
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Many factors contribute to the fact that Olmert’s unpopular government is able to cling to power and behave as if there is nothing wrong. But the main cause for the government’s longevity is the deep crisis which plagues Israel’s democratic system.
In Sharansky’s view, there are two causes for the current crisis: Political leaders perceive their positions as career opportunities rather than opportunities to serve the public; and the public doesn’t demand that its elected leaders reassess their perception.
This state of affairs is disastrous because the main strength of democratic societies is their ability to embrace the individual strengths of their citizens to advance the national interest. As Sharansky explains, “A national strategy must be based on the values of its nation. Israel is predicated on two core values: the fact that it is a Jewish state and the fact that it is a free society.”
For the past generation, Israel’s leaders have underrated the strength of the county’s core values. “Already back in the 1980s, Shimon Peres was saying that the nation is weak. Barak said the same thing before he went to the Camp David summit [in 2000]. Ariel Sharon said the same thing before the withdrawal from Gaza. But during last summer’s war we saw that the opposite was true. The nation is strong. Our leaders are weak. And today our leaders continue to base their policies on the same mistaken perception that the nation has no strength.”
There is much more to this column at the Jerusalem Post.
As usual, Caroline Glick does not pull her punches.