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Monday, January 09, 2006 

Why Ehud Olmert makes a very unsuitable leader

One Jerusalem watched a recent showing of the Jim Lehrer News Hour on PBS in which US ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer seemed to be promoting the Kadima party:
Kurtzer's analysis provided disturbing insights into the thinking of the Bush Administration. Kurtzer became the only commenator in the world to declare that [Kadima] is the only political party in Israel that has world class leaders that can fill Sharon's shoes. He praised Tzipi Livni and Ehud Olmert. Combined, these two don't have the stature or the experience to represent the State of Israel or any other country.

But Kurtzer, and it is reasonable to fear that the Bush Administration, are determined to prop up non-entities in an attempt to keep the disastrous disengagement alive.
Yes, this is something that warrants concern. Interestingly enough, one could argue that this kind of position also stems from the same positions that Dubya maintained when it came to illegal immigration in the US. He wanted to grant amnesty to illegal aliens, and tried to argue that it wasn't amnesty. Thankfully, US Congress did not kowtow to the president's very risky proposal, and instead voted for proper enforcement of immigration laws that would require employers to verify their employees status.

Some left-wing Israeli poll sources have been publishing some very outrageous polls claiming that Kadima will get 40 seats in the next elections. Some analysts have said that this very exaggerated type of polling could be in order to justify a coup d'etat, and yes, it could be. An almost similar example of outrageousness took place in Australia last month, when the Fairfax owned newspapers attempted to justify multiculturalism. But as the unsuccessful "anti-racism" rally in Sydney pretty much shows, such polls are way off base.

Daniel Pipes has a pretty good article on the subject that can help point out just why a lot of the polls that are from left-wing sources are simply exaggerated.

Another detracting factor about Ehud Olmert is his own record of corruption: as someone who holds a degree as a lawyer, he once did some illegal work for another businessman named Yaakov Nimrodi and his son Ofer. In the June 12, 1991 issue of an old magazine called HaOlam HaZeh, there was a report about how Olmert, then still practicing law, took 400,000 dollars from Nimrodi for his involvement in a deal to buy out a company called "Hakh'sharat HaYishuv" (he'd initially agreed to a certain fee, and after successfully concluding the deal, he demanded a much higher fee than originally agreed upon. This new demand was for 800,000 dollars, but after an arbitration, he settled for just 400,000). The Nimrodis are also given some mention in this article from Haaretz. One thing I can also see here when reading it, is that another lawyer named David Appel did some unlawful campaign funding for Olmert and Sharon together(!):
The removal of the intelligence-gathering apparatus of national police headquarters from the Investigations Branch and the establishment of the (faltering) Intelligence Branch have had an adverse effect on the work of the police, despite the efforts of the intelligence officers of the investigative units, who are responsible for the initial collection of the details that gradually pile up and eventuate in an undercover investigation. If that investigation proves fruitful, it becomes open and results in an indictment. The constant shortage of resources and the desire to protect intelligence sources lead to the under-utilization of information. An investigation that is being conducted in a particular unit, or by a small team within a unit, is liable to suffer from internal compartmentalization, whether deliberate or accidental. A current case in point: Some of the testimonies in the "Rotten Apple" case refer to Appel's financing of registration drives in the Likud - in support of Sharon against Olmert and also the reverse.
Sounds almost like a double-agent, right? And certainly like a politican!

On the case of David Appel, there's certainly what can be said. As this report from the UK Guardian notes, Appel was charged with bribing Olmert in the "Greek Island" scandal. And if Olmert took those bribes, well then, the best I can say is - naughty naughty!

Perhaps even more concerning about Olmert is this recent news report, which reveals that he's demanding taxes on items donated for Israel's needy:
Acting Prime Minister and Finance Minister Ehud Olmert demanded last month that taxes be paid on charity items recently donated by American Jews to help Israel’s needy population prepare for winter.

Olmert's act raised a storm of angry criticism from Israeli and U.S. Jewish leaders, and has also created an unusually tense diplomatic climate sparking claims that trade treaties between Israel and America have been breached.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Olmert made the decision to enforce an old, outdated law demanding a 28.5% tax and an additional airfare tax on U.S. charitable donations to Israel’s poor. The donations, which include medical supplies, clothing and toys, were the result of a charity drive in Jewish communities across the U.S. aimed at delivering the contributions to Israel in time for the holiday of Chanukah. While Olmert's staff refused to grant a reduction in the taxes that would allow the release of the charity items, Olmert himself took part in a press interview at a Tel Aviv soup kitchen, in an apparent move to publicize his concern for Israel's poor and needy.

[...]

Israel Textile Union Chairman Ramsi Gabai denied the above claim:
“There has not even been a second-hand garment industry in Israel for 30 years. It is an absurdity to suggest that taxing American charity in any way defends the Israeli garment industry, or that such protection is at all desired by the Israeli textile industry. There is a Free Trade Agreement with the United States on all garments, which certainly covers charity if it covers items sold for profit. We ourselves at the Textile Union have a very large and successful program for the member firms to donate excess clothing inventory to charity. Are we to be taxed on our charity to the needy next?"

A spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy expressed frustration at the audacity of being taxed on charitable donations:
“There is no exemption from the Free Trade Agreement ratified with the State of Israel that would permit taxation of American citizens donating charity. The contention seems more bizarre than weak. The United States need not specifically include in its Free Trade treaties the self-evident inclusion of charitable donations for emergency relief in addition to commercially sold goods for profit. Did the Indonesians charge taxes on American charitable relief from the tsunami? Did India tax American charity donated after the killer monsoons? Did the Chileans tax American donations after the earthquake?”

Due to the unresolved crisis, more than 30 tons of donated clothing, toys, and medical supplies intended for Israel’s needy have been stranded for three weeks in warehouses at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport. The California-based donors who organized the charitable drive are not willing to pay the heavy tax imposed by Olmert's office.
Well now, this certainly indicates that he's not all that different from Labor's Amir Peretz. So he's holding up the delivery of items that a lot of good people in Israel are in need of? This is certainly a disgrace. (See also Batya's posts on Blog Free and Shiloh Musings.)

This topic from View From the Right (via One Jerusalem) reveals that Olmert is apparently not willing to maintain an effective and convincing argument:
...in Olmert’s case, I’m not completely surprised by this astonishing public display of weakness and delusion. I never thought much of him after he let Ted Koppel slap him into silence with a cheap racism charge on the Charlie Rose program where they were guests together a few years back. Olmert, who was then the mayor of Jerusalem, said something like, “The Palestinians are not like us, they are willing to sacrifice their children, to commit mass murder,” and Koppel, in an unbearably superior tone, said something like, “Surely you’re not suggesting that the Palestinians are racially different from the rest of us?”, and Olmert said nothing in reply. He allowed Koppel to beat him. He let stand Koppel’s statement that to talk about the actual behavior and qualities of the Palestinians was racist. If a man won’t stand up to inferences of racism from Ted Koppel, what are the odds he’ll stand up against campaigns of terror by Muslim jihadists?
An excellent point. What Olmert let happen there is also indicative of what he could do, or won't. He will not show strength in battles with terrorists, and he won't even stand up against an inference such as the one that Koppel, shameless news reporter that he was, tried to make against him.

If this is how Olmert is going to run business, by damaging free trade and also people's needs for warm winter clothing and such, then he most definately cannot be considered a fitting candidate for prime minister.

Here's also a topic from Daniel Pipes that shows that Olmert is little more just another lefty who only sees what he wants to.

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