Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | May 28, 2007

And I thought it was all about the constituents…

Once again, Prime Minister Olmert has proven that he cares more about himself and his own PR than about Israeli citizens. As qassam rockets continue to fall in Sderot and Israelis continue to get killed (yesterday’s innocent victim was the father of a young girl, and husband of a woman in her sixth month of pregnancy), Olmert has stated that he sees no reason why citizens should leave town, despite “understanding” that life there is “difficult” these days. As prime minister, Olmert should be more concerned with the wellbeing of his constituents than with how it will look if there is a massive evacuation of the town and the surrounding areas. No one should be forced to stay in a bad neighborhood just to make someone else look good.

During the past few weeks, the prime minister has made numerous requests and demands that have repeatedly caused Israeli citizens to question his motives and loyalties, which, if said requests and demands are anything to go by, are to himself above all others. In a replay of last summer’s actions, the government’s inaction with regard to the beleaguered citizens of Sderot has resulted in a war of words with wealthy businessman (and political newcomer, which comes as no surprise, given the transparent nature of his generosity as he successfully buys respectability and entrance into the hearts and minds of so many Israelis) Arkady Gaydamak, who has once again managed to one-up the government and provide relief for the people of Sderot, despite the government’s attempts to thwart him at every turn. Gaydamak has erected a tent camp in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park, after officials in Jerusalem denied his request to the erect the camp in the city’s Sacher Park, apparently at the behest of officials in the Prime Minister’s Office. Attempts to persuade officials in Tel Aviv to act in a similar manner were fortunately rebuffed. As a result, Gaydamak has traded barbs with various government officials, who clearly do not like the idea of the government being upstaged by a private individual, especially one who is perceived as a political threat.

It’s almost frightening to witness the way the government is handling the Sderot crisis, allowing the citizens to be innocent pawns in their PR game. Prime Minister Olmert and his ilk have no right whatsoever to demand that these individuals remain on the front lines, while at the same time doing nothing to alleviate the situation on the ground. Most if not all of the public bomb shelters in the city are unusable, especially for extended periods of time, and the government has not followed through on promises to make the necessary repairs and modifications. An organization from the US has made a substantial donation earmarked especially for the shelters, but for some reason, the prime minister has asked that the money go only towards fixing private shelters. Despite the fact that rockets have been slamming into Sderot and the surrounding areas for several years now, the government has chosen the path of lip-service over actual activity. They are hardly in a position to cry foul when Mr. Gaydamak steps in and offers to finance the repairs and the building of new shelters himself, though this is indeed what they have done. Frankly, until the government proves that it’s capable of making the necessary changes on the ground, they are hardly in a position to dictate how the citizens of Sderot should live their lives under fire. Unless the prime minister is willing to move to an unprotected home in Sderot and spend his days and nights there, his calls to stay ring hollow. Clearly, it is more important for him to look good and save face rather than to go the humane route and address the needs of the citizens. Clearly, he would rather see nothing done to help these individuals than see a private citizen step up and do what the government will not. The pattern was established last summer, when Olmert admonished the citizens of the north for wanting to leave when rockets were falling, and the same is true today in the south. The prime minister has proved once again that his government is incapable of meeting the needs of its constituents, especially in times of crisis. The majority of Israelis anxiously await its demise, and though we want to believe that the next government has to be better than the current one, which will surely go down as one of the worst in history, the current political situation leaves little room for optimism, and the best we can hope for is a government that will not be as bad as that of Olmert and company. Personally, I would like to think that there is nowhere to go but up.



  1. Amen. (And to the last political one you wrote as well. I’ve no time to write these days so I’m glad that someone else is saying exactly what I think)

    It’s beyond disgraceful…

  2. I am so very sorry. It’s so horrible for people on both sides. My very best wishes are with you.

  3. Don’t you see that Olmert has learned his lessons well from the 22 Arab nations surrounding Israel. i.e. Use ‘refugees as political pawns.’ Don’t do what is right for the peaceful enjoyment of any neighborhood.

    Kol HaKavod

    Hillel Levin

  4. It’s infuriating. Not only should Olmert stop criticising those who wish to leave, he should also spend a few days in Sderot as a show of solidarity with the people there, to show them that contrary to popular belief, their PM actually does give a damn about them.

  5. Hey, I’m sorry … I have and can step completely out of the picture, unlike you … you live there and that must be so hard when you come to the point when you can’t take anymore.

    I realised that reading the world was making me constantly frustrated and sad so I’ve narrowed my blog views down to my small world for the moment and maybe I’ll stay there, grateful that I have that choice.

    Take good care of yourself.

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