Those surprised by Ehud Olmert and his cabinet's decision in the Holocaust survivor affair are invited to read Ofer Shelach's and Yoav Limor's book 'Captives in Lebanon.' They are invited to read the chapter called "Exposed in the Saluki" and to familiarize themselves with the shocking circumstances under which soldiers were sent to another battle after a ceasefire had in fact been reached. This story is more than just food for thought.
The description of the battle at the Saluki Wadi is a chilling document that describes the terrible shortcomings of the war: Ehud Olmert, Dan Halutz and Amir Peretz decided to prolong the battles by three days. They dispatched armored corps and infantry to what may have resulted in a terrible tragedy after an agreement to end the fighting had already been reached.
According to their version, which is now being probed by the Winograd Commission, this move had significant diplomatic implications.
Thirty four soldiers returned from the Saluki Wadi in coffins, without their parents knowing why or what they sacrificed their lives for. No one told them what preceded this battle, what the prime minister knew, and who exerted pressure on him to halt the maneuver. No one told them that even former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz expressed reservations over this madness and presented the prime minister with a clear question: What will you tell the widows later on?
Those keeping track of Olmert's imperviousness will not fall off their chairs when observing his attitude towards the Holocaust survivors.
The courageous soldier Olmert, it appears, has no mercy for the hundreds of thousands of survivors from the death camps. "There is an exaggeration," he argued seriously at a cabinet session "the argument is being taken to an unacceptable level. Such things will not dictate the cabinet's conduct on the matter."
Olmert didn't calm down even after managing to turn the majority of the public against him. He humiliated the survivors and depicted them as the marionettes of political dealers. He is once again claiming that there is a political conspiracy against him. Again he claims he is being persecuted by unfounded accusations. Once again he is the good guy in the story and his critics are the bad guys.
A few more crumbs
Olmert didn't stutter when he presented NIS 83 ($20) as an appropriate stipend addition. NIS 83, I shall repeat the sad joke, not NIS 1,500 (roughly $350,) not NIS 2,000 (roughly $450,) nor any other reasonable amount that could, even barely, enable these elderly people to end their lives in dignity.
Olmert waved this sum proudly; he seemingly celebrated a great victory and couldn't understand what the storm was all about. He didn't lose his equilibrium even after pandemonium broke out and an entire nation expressed its indignation at the few cents he offered the needy. He has remained a coarse and shameless leader who has no mercy for 80 and 90-year-old Holocaust survivors.
He is that same leader who shows complete disregard for the lives of soldiers and elderly citizens and who powerfully shuns the High Court, commissions of inquiry, the prosecution, police investigators and the press. He shuns anyone who dares cry out: The emperor is wearing no clothes.
Olmert is Olmert and the public has simply had enough. The polls in this case are not wrong. Yet Olmert is not operating in a vacuum: He has partners to his abominable acts even in the Labor party. This party, which lacks a flag, color and values, is blindly positioning itself behind him.
Those responsible are Ehud Barak, Isaac Herzog, Fuad Ben Eliezer, Shalom Simhon, Yuli Tamir and Matan Vilnai. The moment they detect an empty cabinet seat they immediately pounce on it. And as Olmert is all too amiliar with the goods, he spreads glue on the chairs, knowing that these hypocrites would then become his captives.
Hence, he allowed himself to offer Holocaust survivors NIS 83 a month, and to argue with a wink that it was an honorable grant, after which he was applauded even by Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog. The new poodle backed him.
Herzog changed his position following the outcry, but don't be misled: He is the same obedient welfare minister we knew before. He will not step down even after Olmert broke another record this week: He proposed raising the monthly supplement for Holocaust survivors to NIS 280. This cynical man is just throwing out a few more crumbs.