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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pray we don't get fooled again

I'm not one who frivolously quotes pop lyrics when lives are on the line... but watching what is going on here over the past 48 hours - and looking forward to the next 48 hours - I couldn't help but be reminded of the classic song by 'The Who' by the same title as today's post.

The first and last stanzas are:

We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

...

Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
No, no!

Please pay close attention to what has been happening in the past 48 hours:

1.  Prime Minister Olmert promised the Shas party that they would be kept apprised of any discussions regarding the future status of any part of Jerusalem.  For their part, Shas made it very clear that the moment the subject of Jerusalem was put on the table with the Palestinians, they would leave the governing coalition.  It has now been revealed that secret negotiations over Jerusalem's final status have been taking place between Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.

2.  If Shas lives up to its promise and pulls out of the government, Olmert will be left with a minority government of well under half the 120 seats in the Knesset, meaning the first 'No Confidence' motion would likely bring down the government and trigger new elections.

3.  While Olmert's supporters in the Knesset have been mouthing platitudes such as "This is not the time to bring down the government... Israel needs stability in a time of crisis" and similar tripe, the opposition has been saying that it is precisely because of the looming crisis that we need a change of leadership/government so that we don't have the same flawed decision makers at the helm as we did during the failed Lebanon war.

5.  At this point Shas Chairman Eli Yishai is sort of trapped by his promise.  He wants more than anything to be able to remain in the government and retain all the creature comforts of life as a minister.  But he is pretty much required at this point to leave the coalition now that he is faced with irrefutable proof that Jerusalem negotiations are well underway.    Prime Minister Olmert knows this and is pretty much powerless to stop it from happening.

Except...

I predict that Olmert will chose the next 24 - 48 hours to launch a large-scale ground offensive into Gaza.  He won't have any more idea what he wants to accomplish in this offensive than he did when he ordered the opening of hostilities in Lebanon.  But in this case his motives will be far less trustworthy.  Simply put, he needs a national crisis to save his political career.

You see, once Israel is involved in a shooting war - and make no mistake, a ground incursion into Gaza will quickly escalate into a war - the 'we can't bring down the government during a time of national crisis' crowd will suddenly start to sound sane, and will give Shas the excuse it needs to remain in the government.

Olmert is going to make cynical use of the current national rage over the relentless attacks from Gaza to remain in power.  After arrogantly ignoring the will of the overwhelming majority of the country for more than a year, he is now going to go through the motions of doing what the country wants; He's going to take us to war.

Except that what the country wants and what the country needs are two very different animals... and Olmert wouldn't know one from the other on his best day.  He only knows what is best for Ehud Olmert.  Just remember that when our sons start coming home in body bags and the IDF commanders in the field start yelling that they are, once again, not getting any clear direction from above regarding objectives or exit strategy.

The next 24 - 48 hours will tell.  I pray we don't get fooled again.

Posted by David Bogner on February 13, 2008 | Permalink

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Have you taken the imminent weather forecasts into consideration?

Posted by: JoeSettler | Feb 13, 2008 10:16:58 AM

Oh David, I so hope you are wrong. But I have a terrible feeling too.

I never thought this would happen - but sometimes I even feel longing for Sharon! At least we had the illusion then that he knew what he was doing or why. With Olmert, I can't even cling to a thread of hope.

I can't believe we have come to this. We deserve so much better, I think. I think Dan Shiftan is right when he says the Israeli public is a miracle, keeping comparably sane and bearing the unbearable.

Why don't we have politicians to match this? Please tell me you see someone, anyone on our political horizon whom we can trust.

Posted by: Lila | Feb 13, 2008 11:38:21 AM

I'm no expert, nor am I an Israeli, so please shoot me down in flames if I'm wrong, but I think the biggest loss to Israeli politics was Natan Sharansky.

Could he be persuaded to come back to the Knesset I wonder?

Also, Moshe Y'allon seems to talk some military sense in the articles I have read of his (Shalem Institute lectures etc).

I figure that prayer for the nation is about all can be done at this point.

Posted by: Noa | Feb 13, 2008 12:01:56 PM

I think you put too much faith in Shas. Just because they committed to something doesn't mean they have to follow through with it. After all, there is a history here.

Posted by: fred | Feb 13, 2008 12:41:34 PM

This is the third time I have heard this today.

I keep on hoping that maybe we are all wrong, and that someone has a plan and knows what he is doing.

<>

Posted by: Gila | Feb 13, 2008 2:14:30 PM

I don't know, I just don't know. But at least Imad Mugniyah is no longer around to bother us.

Posted by: Jack | Feb 13, 2008 4:21:56 PM

Hey, what are you worried about? According to Winograd, Olmert did a great job during the Lebanon war!


Posted by: psachya | Feb 13, 2008 5:12:40 PM

[extreme sarcasm]

Posted by: psachya | Feb 13, 2008 5:15:01 PM

Politicians argue, sharpening their knives.
Drawing up their bargains, trading baby lives.

UB40 wrote that in 1976, nothing changes.

Posted by: asher | Feb 13, 2008 5:17:48 PM

Ummm...I liked to your post. To a funny post. Hope you like it. And are not too grossly offended....

Posted by: Gila | Feb 13, 2008 8:48:43 PM

That's such disturbing and disappointing news. I don't want to lose any part of Jerusalem, nor do I want Israel to be pulled into another war.

And not unlike yourself in your last post (you know - the one about you feeling so selfish when confronted with the news of death), I have to admit that upon reading this one, all I kept thinking about was Shit...we finally saved up enough money to visit Israel this summer,and a war is about to start again ... please if it's going to happen, let it wait until AFTER our trip is over.

I know... that sounds soooo horrible and SELFISH!!!

All kidding aside, it really does worry me and I hope your instinct on this is completely wrong.

Posted by: jaime | Feb 14, 2008 1:08:22 AM

Gavin DeGraw lyrics - I Don't Wanna Be
"I'm surrounded by liars everywhere I turn
I'm surrounded by imposters everywhere I turn
I'm surrounded by a identity crisis everywhere I turn
Am I the only one to notice?
I can't be the only one who's learned"

You might also want to switch your attention to Iran, Trep. PR campaigns for Iran have began FYI.

Posted by: Rami | Feb 14, 2008 7:35:01 AM

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