Mediocrity Reigns

The present government cannot be trusted to deal adequately with the great challenges facing the nation.


By Moshe Arens

(A version of this column appeared in Haaretz on October 15, 2008.)

Here we are in stormy seas with a crew of mediocrities running the ship. Not to mention the captain, who currently seems to have other fish to fry. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that Abraham Hirchson, Olmert’s choice for finance minister, is no longer there to deal with the approaching financial storm. But his replacement, Roni Bar-On, hardly seems qualified for the job, most certainly not at this time of great uncertainty.

Fortunately for him and the rest of us, he inherited Stanley Fisher as governor of the Bank of Israel, a remnant of Netanyahu’s tenure as finance minister. God only knows who Olmert and Hirchson would have picked for this supremely important post, had it been up to them. While every Israeli is worrying about his financial security, Tzipi Livni, so intent on becoming prime minister, is quiet. Her advisors must be telling her not to reveal how little she knows about economic affairs. So how are we going to ride out this storm?

If only we had nothing to worry about regarding Israel’s defense. It is true that everybody breathed a sigh of relief when Olmert’s choice of defense minister, Amir Peretz, was replaced by Ehud Barak. But he, with a great military career behind him, now has on his record a number of serious blunders. These start with the hasty unilateral withdrawal from the southern Lebanon security zone and the betrayal of our South Lebanon Army allies during his previous tenure as prime minister and defense minister, and include the many months of rocket fire on Israeli civilians in the south during his current tenure as defense minister, and the release of the murderer Samir Kuntar in exchange for two bodies of our soldiers and a mendacious report by Hezbollah about Ron Arad. This was topped off by his pressuring the government to agree to a cease-fire with the Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip, leaving Gilad Shalit out in the cold. Part of the cease-fire agreement, it was said, was going to be the beginning of intensive negotiations for Gilad Shalit. It is pretty clear who fooled whom in this case. We thought we could expect a little more wisdom from our leaders. They should at the very least be a little smarter than the terrorists in Gaza and Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut.

As for international relations, it is well-known that our leaders’ offers of concessions will always be met by global applause. In that area Olmert and Tzipi Livni have outdone all their predecessors. One would have thought that there is nothing left to give up, until Olmert decided to present Vladimir Putin with a piece of Jerusalem real estate. Olmert must have been disappointed that Putin did not even have the time to meet him during his visit to Moscow for the presentation. As for Livni’s “great diplomatic achievement,” UN Security Council resolution 1701, she too was outfoxed by Hassan Nasrallah.

This mediocre crew, which led Isreal to a defeat in the Second Lebanon War, now insists that what Israel needs is stability. According to them, Israel does not need early elections, but rather stable governance. Let us continue with our policies, they say to the public; we need another two years to complete the job. Does anyone really want them to continue on their path of constant blunders? What will be the state of the nation if this government continues for another two years? Is that the kind of stability we need? Or should we not be thankful that our parliamentary system permits us to rid ourselves of this miserable crew and replace them with a more capable team?

Seemingly aware of their own inadequacies, they now proclaim that we are facing national emergencies and therefore are in need of a national unity government. They think that at this time, the opposition should be joining the government and lending a helping hand. If the opposition continues to call for elections, they say, they are simply not doing their patriotic duty, and not following in the footsteps of Barak, who insists that all his decisions are guided by only one criterion – what is good for the country. Not what is good for the Labor Party, or what is good for him, but what is good for the county. Why doesn’t the opposition follow suit?

But the inescapable conclusion is that at this stressful time, the country is not in the very best of hands. The present government cannot be trusted to deal adequately with the great challenges facing the nation. This is not the time for stability, for more of the same. It is time for change.

Translate »