Olmert’s Peace Spin

By Gilad Atzmon

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert assured the daily Haaretz that the negotiation with Syria is nothing less than an ‘historic breakthrough’. He is absolutely correct. It’s the first time in Israel’s history that a PM initiates a peace negotiation just to escape a police probe into his own unlawful doings. Apparently, Olmert is seeking a quick escape route that would bring the investigation of his corruption to an immediate halt.

The Israeli Knesset has always been a haven for Israeli criminals and gangsters who seek to take advantage of the immunity membership guarantees. This is nothing new, unlawful activity is rather common amongst Israeli leaders.

The list of villains and convicts within Israel’s political world is endless. A few years ago an Israeli survey revealed that 60% of Israeli Knesset members had a criminal record.  As we know the previous President of the Jewish State, Mr Moshe Katsav lost his prestigious post because he was charged for sex crimes, rape and sexual molestation, no less, as well as the more banal offence of wire-tapping. Sharon’s son Omri, Knesset member under both Likud and Kadima, has been indicted for bribery. Ariel the father was lucky enough to fall ill just in time to save himself the embarrassment of being thrown out of the PM office for involvement in the same criminal affair.

Olmert is no different, he is as corrupted as anyone else. However, he may be in a position to determine his fate. All he has to do is raise enough pressure on police officers to stop the probe into his wrongdoing.

Olmert is no Tolstoy, yet he had two options to choose from: war and peace. Not a single Israeli police detective would put pressure on a serving PM in time of a war. Similarly, no one would mount pressure on a PM in the midst of an historic peacemaking effort with Israel’s most hostile neighbour. Though we were preparing for Olmert to flatten Gaza or strike Hezbollah, he went for the peace option. He obviously remembered the colossal defeat of the IDF in Lebanon less than two years ago, so in doubt, Olmert has decided to not put his trust in generals. To all appearances, the latter do not trust themselves either, they realise that Arabs are not easy targets anymore, Arabs fight back and are getting very good at it.

With no army to fight his wars, Olmert is left with no more peace spin. He obviously doesn’t have the political power to undertake a withdrawal from the Golan Heights. He runs this spin knowing that the Israelis are desperate enough to buy it. The Israelis know the truth, the days of the Jewish State are numbered, the so-called ‘window of opportunity’ has been closed a while ago. Israel is surrounded by hostility and the Jewish majority on the land is now becoming a matter of history.

The Americans and the Brits are desperate enough to support Olmert’s spin. Bush, Blair and Brown need to get a diplomatic achievement even if it doesn’t lead anywhere. In Western politics everything is measured in a short time perspective.  Hence we move from spin to spin.

By bearing in mind the recent Israeli military defeat in Lebanon and the cowardly tactics the IDF performs in Gaza to avoid a ground battle, taking into no account the presence of civilians and the inevitable innocent victims that are the outcome of each and every raid, any Israeli withdrawal in Golan would be considered by Israelis and Arabs as a white flag. Not many people would support such an initiative in Israel politics, nor in its military and intelligence branches. Hence, we have to conclude that the emerging peace spin is there to serve Olmert’s immediate personal needs. It is there to postpone criminal investigation of his activities. It is there to give the corrupt man a few more days in office.

According to Haaretz, “sources close to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday said that he was unable to conceal his disappointment and surprise at the news of renewed Israeli-Syrian peace talks.”

Note to President Ahmadinejad: do not hold your breath. Nothing has changed and nothing is going to happen. The Israelis are not going to buy the new spin. They just can’t. Israel thrives on conflict, it defines itself by negation.

-Gilad Atzmon is a jazz musician, composer, producer and writer. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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