Olmert argues that the censored publication of his testimony, which cut out the praise lavished on him during the questions asked by the five committee members, proves that the commission was biased against him.
"This deletion," according to an official in his office, "raises the suspicion that the commission followed the public sentiment.
"It is unimaginable that during his testimony the prime minister received praise for his conduct, his consultations, and the accomplishments achieved by Israel, while this praise was deleted when the testimony was published," the source said. "Moreover, it's unclear how the commission decided that the prime minister failed, after praising him like that."
This is suspiciously reminiscent of the night the Winograd report was published, on April 30th, where another close Olmert associate found a footnote in the report regarding the lesson-drawing culture required by the Israeli government.
According to the footnote, what is needed is a culture that is not about firing people in order to repair flaws found in the decision-making process. The close associate brought up this footnote, of course, in order to justify the prime minister's decision not to quit.
And so, while references to failure associated with the prime minister are mentioned more than 100 times in the report, the associate found one footnote that would back Olmert. According to the official, this in fact meant the commission actually wants the prime minister to remain in his post.
This tactic is also reminiscent of the prime minister's mudslinging campaign against the state comptroller, in light of the harsh reports issued by the latter.
"The state comptroller is motivated by considerations of rating," one of Olmert's close associates said at the time. "The comptroller decided to make the prime minister a target for elimination," was another argument. "The comptroller invests endless resources in order to topple the prime minister," a third associate said.
Now that the commission he appointed issued scathing criticism over the prime minister's part in the failures of the Second Lebanon War, all that is left for us is to serve as his defense attorneys. We must praise, laud, and glorify the prime minister for his consistency. For Olmert, this has become a method: Criticizing the critics. As a soccer fan, he apparently knows that the best defense is to go on the attack.
So did we win?
"There is a huge gap, believe me, between what you convey regarding the question of victory or the lack of failure, and this gap must be bridged," Winograd Commission member Menachem Einan told Olmert the day the prime minister testified before the committee.
"I'll start from the end," Olmert replied. "I don't think the war's achievements are presented by me with any degree of exaggeration. I never argued more than that. I merely argued that we used these grapes to make better-than-expected wine." That's what the prime minister said. We have nothing to add here.
The Olmert testimony on February 1 gives rise to an image of a fortuneteller (On March 5, May 10, and June 25 he warned against an abduction and asked the army for an action plan in response). According to the testimony, Olmert was thwarted by the circumstances (the abduction of IDF soldiers Goldwasser and Regev on July 12,) the level of readiness ("the army disappointed itself") and Nasrallah ("the axis of evil between Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas.)
Yes despite all of this, in his seven-hour testimony the prime minister argued that Israel won the Second Lebanon War. Despite the failures, he said he believes Israel created a new reality in southern Lebanon.
Yet in the part of his testimony cleared for publication, there isn't even one mention of the war's casualty toll of 163 soldiers and civilians who lost their lives. There is no mention of the more than 4,000 rockets and missiles sustained by the home front, at a rate of 100 to 250 a day.
There was no mention of more than one million civilians who were staying in ill-equipped bomb shelters for more than a month. There was no mention of the refugee camps, and particularly the one kindly established by millionaire Gaydamak for the benefit of those fleeing the North. There was also no mention of Hizbullah's acquisition of new arms that are even more advanced than what it possessed on the eve of the war.
"The testimony shows a prime minister who is flesh and blood, hesitating, consulting, suffering, asking questions, and taking decisions following careful consideration," one of Olmert's subordinates said. Indeed, a human being, flesh and blood, who seeks to defend his damaged honor in every way possible. Indeed, flesh and blood, who prefers to be on the victorious side. Indeed, a human being, who because of his pain, fails to read the writing plastered all over the wall by the Winograd Commission: You failed.
So Olmert believes we won. That's natural, of course. The Winograd commission believes he failed. And if he failed, it means this war also failed.