The demand to punish the sinning leader is an ancient one, and dates back to biblical times. This is a moral requirement and without it society can get lost.
This need, which can be considered inherent to society in Kantian terms, guided Ben-Gurion when he embarked on his crusade against then Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon over failed covert operations in Egypt, in what became known as the Lavon Affair. The damage of that affair, which accompanied my generation for years and had far-reaching implications on Israeli politics, was insignificant compared to the Olmert Affair. And still, Ben-Gurion insisted to see justice served.
At the time, most of the public did not understand Ben-Gurion: His stubbornness was treated as the madness of an old man who "lost it." Even his strongest loyalists followed him as if they were forced to do so. Yet today, in the face of Ehud Olmert's denunciation of his responsibility for the tragic moves of the Second Lebanon War, Ben-Gurion's moral position, his "madness," shines through.
Everyone speaks mostly about the final operation. However, the final operation was merely the final failure, the last in a series of failures. From the first day of the war it was clear that a disaster is coming, and that the disaster is a result of an intellectual failure, an ongoing failure that started with the contempt shown to the Syrian desire for dialogue and reached its peak in a war that was the inevitable result of that contempt.
Public faces a testAs always in history, what you knew and felt in real time is the truth; the truth that no interpretation, research, or commissions of inquiry and no verbal acrobatics would be able to change. And the truth of the Second Lebanon War failure (aside from the blindness which, to our regret, overcame most politicians with relation to the implications of disparaging Assad) is that the objective that stood before Olmert's eyes when embarking on the miserable ground operation was to create a "victory picture."
No protocol could erase this sin. For his horrific gamble, Ehud Olmert must pay with a lifetime suspension from the political casino. No less. This is really a minor price, a true bargain, to pay for the amateurism, arrogance, lack of leadership, and negligence that he displayed in the war.
If we just expand our field of vision a little, for a change, beyond the specific verdict of this time and beyond the narrow-minded political interests, we will realize that insisting on moral values contributes to our national strength no less than correcting the kind of security flaws pointed to by the commission of inquiry.
A wily attorney such as Olmert, who has been coming up with arguments that would save him or his clients from traps throughout his life, is inherently unable to give in to a moral decree. He is the last one to understand such point of view. Therefore, this is not his test or the Winograd Commission's test, and not even the media's test. Toady, this is the test of the public, as a life-seeking entity, facing the difficult decision of whether to submit to a required surgery that would heal it from a grave disease.