Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Olmert's head

The Cassandra of Israeltm, Caroline Glick, calls for PM Ehud Olmert's head today. His handling of the response to Hizb'allah's act of war has been incredibly incompetent and will cost many Israeli lives in the coming years. Here are some excerpts from her well-argued column:

Diplomatically, in the space of five weeks the government managed to undermine Israel's alliance with America; to hand Syria, Hizbullah and Iran the greatest diplomatic achievements they have ever experienced; and to flush down the toilet the unprecedented international support that US President Bush handed to Israel on a silver platter at the G-8 summit.

The UN cease-fire that Olmert, Livni and Peretz applaud undercuts Israel's sovereignty; protects Hizbullah; lets Iran and Syria off the hook; lends credibility to our enemies' belief that Israel can be destroyed; emboldens the Palestinians to launch their next round of war; and leaves IDF hostages Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in captivity.

A government that goes to war to achieve a specific goal -- return of IDF soldiers taken as hostages and to send the message that such kidnappings would have the severest consequences -- and agrees to a "peace" that completely fails to accomplish that objective is a loser, period. The Olmert government lost this war. Worse yet, its decision to agree to the "ceasefire" whilst allowing the IDF soldiers to remain captives legitimizes the illegitimate concept that the soldiers are prisoners of war of an enemy combatant.

More from Glick, who rips the Israeli Foreign Minister (who has received some of the better press in the US and Israel during the past five weeks):

Israel's diplomatic maneuvers were cut to fit the size of our Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who believes that her job is limited to being nice to other foreign ministers when they call her up on the telephone. In an interview with Yediot Aharonot over the weekend, Livni defended her decision not to engage in public diplomacy by claiming that this is not an important enough task for the foreign minister. It makes sense that this would be her view because as one who understands neither diplomacy nor English, she is incapable of conducting public diplomacy.

Livni argued that the job of the foreign minister is "to create diplomatic processes" - whatever that means. She also claimed that the best way to gain international support is not by publicly arguing Israel's case, but through back door discussions devoted to developing good relations with other foreign ministers. This is ridiculous. The job of the foreign minister is to defend Israel and advance Israel's national interests to foreigners, not to be their friend.

Livni is evidently an awful choice for another reason, she doesn't speak English. Do not underestimate the importance of understanding and fluency in English to an Israeli FM or diplomat -- it allows them to directly communicate with the large and assimilated Jewish communities in the US and UK, and allows them to seem less "foreign" and less "Jewish" to US and UK diplomats, few of whom have any pro-Israel leanings. There's a reason former PM Binyamin Netanyahu is more popular in the US than in Israel -- his ability to communicate publicly in flawless English made him the best face of Israel during his tenure as ambassador and FM in the '90s.

Glick's completely right on another issue, world perception:

Iran has been emboldened. Its success in the war is now being used by the ayatollahs to support their claim of leadership over the Arab world. In evidence of Iran's success, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met in Cairo with Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. So now, after 27 years of official estrangement, Egypt is moving towards establishing full diplomatic relations with Teheran.

The Palestinians have been emboldened. Hamas leaders and spokesmen are openly stating that just as Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 precipitated the Palestinian terror war in September 2000, so Israel's current defeat in Lebanon will spur the outbreak of a new Palestinian terror war against Israel today.

THE AMERICANS have lost faith in Israel as an ally. After he gave Israel every opportunity to win this war, even signaling clearly that Israel should feel free to go as far as Beirut if necessary, President Bush was convinced that Olmert simply didn't want to fight. The Americans were shocked by Israel's performance. They know that we can win when we set our mind to it and were flummoxed when presented with an Israeli leadership that refused to even try.

Overall, the call for Olmert's head is more than justified.

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