Photo: Niv Calderon
Ron Breiman
Photo: Niv Calderon
We haven't learned a thing
Bleak reality prevents Israelis from learning from past experience
As of late the word "experience" is repeatedly being used in the public discourse, but not always in the right context.


In every workplace candidates are required to present their credentials regarding their professional experience in the relevant sectors.


Ehud Olmert, who announced that the Israeli cabinet is his place of work (contrary to the opinion held by some 98 percent of his employers – the citizens of Israel – who don't want him there), got his job by pure coincidence, albeit with a few ministerial positions behind him (even if not in the area of defense, where he failed immediately after taking up office.)


Amir Peretz took up the senior post of defense minister without ministerial experience and with aspirations to work within a completely different field – the social arena in which he had accumulated long-term experience. The rest is history. The senior cabinet team – Olmert, Livni, Peretz – is leading Israel without the proper experience. The results are hardly surprising.


Once again Ehud Barak is proposing himself for the post of defense minister, and later, once again, for the post of prime minister. Ostensibly, his experience makes him a suitable candidate for these jobs. He's already been there, and therefore, he doesn't have the flaws and lack of experience that taint the above trio.


But does this fact make him a suitable candidate for the future as well? Experience is not just a line and a clause in a resume; it also relates to the way the candidate performed his duties. Barak's term in office, despite his earlier experience, turned out to be a terrible failure and ended up being the shortest term in office by any of Israel's former prime ministers (except for Olmert who is likely to break this dubious record.)


Barak's deficient handling of the diplomatic-defense arena led us to the Oslo war; his arrogance where human relations are concerned brought about the downfall of his government. This resulted in his shameful defeat against Ariel Sharon.


Commentators and PR figures are currently marketing Barak as an experienced candidate. It's a pity that they are forgetting the fact that his relevant experience is somewhat doubtful and even his term as chief of staff was controversial when compared to many others who commanded the IDF.


Experienced Peres unfit for presidency

Benjamin Netanyahu did not serve as a minister before entering the prime minister's office. His lack of experience became evident during his term in office, and there are many who are comparing the two – two prime ministers who reached this lofty post without adequate training and experience, and therefore made a hard fall from their seats.


Besides this, Netanyahu's errors in defense and foreign affairs are dwarfed by those of Barak, and even his term in office doubled Barak's. Contrary to Barak, when Netanyahu presents his renewed candidacy for the job he bases it on his impressive and esteemed service in two senior positions - the foreign ministry and the finance ministry - so that now he has the experience he lacked in the past.


Shimon Peres, the most senior and experienced person in Israeli politics, is currently striving for the presidency. Does his experience - and our experience with him - make him suitable? Does the role of presidency have any significance? It is after all primarily a unifying position, one that is not controversial and accepted by all sectors of society.


Peres' accumulated experience in general, but particularly the 15 years since Oslo, indicate the complete opposite: He is a dividing, controversial character who is unaccepted by at least half of the population.


The fraud of the "peace process" marketed by the dreamer and the seasoned man heralding a "new Middle East" explodes in our faces everyday. His testimony at the Winograd Commission and his twisting of his "yes" and "no" for and against the Second Lebanon War, all in order to enter the presidential residence –are pathetic.


The deception by the senior and experienced minister before his inexperienced colleagues - who apparently relied on his experience when voting in favor of the war - does not demonstrate integrity. When in retrospect he denies his way of voting, arguing his loyalty to Olmert, while his pledge of allegiance as a minister is to the people and not to the prime minister – there is something evidently wrong here.


When talking about experience, we shouldn't only complain about controversial persons who are seeking to be elected to senior posts; what's also important is the public's memory and experience. In this context, we should remember George Bernard Shaw's quote: "We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience."


Unfortunately, the bleak reality here prevents us from learning from experience, and makes us cling on to those whose experience doesn't necessarily work in their favor.


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