Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"OLMERT" IS HATED IN ISRAEL » Israel » Article

'Olmert can't stay a single day more'

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Seven days before the Winograd Committee submits its conclusion on the performance of the political and military echelons during the Second Lebanon War, bereaved families submitted a damning "alternative report" to the Knesset in which they detail the circumstances of their loved ones' deaths. The report, entitled Eich Naflu Giborim, (How the Courageous Fell), also includes a conclusions chapter and parents are not shying away from making personal recommendations.

A bereaved mother at her son's grave on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem. [Illustrative photo]
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski [file]

The report opens with the following statement: "We are parents of children who fell while defending their country in the Second Lebanon War. We are bound to this country with every fiber of our being, and in all of our actions, small and large. We have always considered contributing to our country a central component of our outlook. The enlistment of our sons and daughters to serve in the Israel Defense Force was the natural consequence of their upbringing. Our children's enlistment, like our enlistment in the past, did not stem from obedience to the law and walking the beaten track, but rather from a profound moral awareness."

The detailed report, dozens of pages long, goes on to specify societal and political ills that - according to the authors - were reflected in the political echelon's refusal to accept responsibility for the war's failures.

"The country's leaders during wartime, the people charged by virtue of their lofty posts with serving as an example to all of us of the way in which an honest person should conduct himself, are leading Israeli culture to realms in which those who wield power and capital control decision-making; where only those who cannot afford sufficient legal representation stand firm for [their] beliefs," the report reads.

"A staggering majority of cabinet ministers are behaving as if they are not the ones at the receiving end of the harsh statements made in the Winograd Report. They go about their jobs as if their wartime conduct was not a failure, as if they do not know they have failed."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is severely castigated in the report, which states unequivocally that he should resign forthwith.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. According to bereaved parents he "added fuel to the flames" by claiming that the final 60 hours of the Second Lebanon War succeeded in improving Israel's position despite the death of 34 soldiers.
Photo: AP [file] , AP

"The prime minister has failed, and after reading [these] words he cannot remain in office for a single day more," the parents write and proceed to elaborate a number of grievances against Olmert. "The foolish attempt to present the [war's] final operation as a move that induced a positive change in the clauses of the truce agreement adds fuel to the flames of failure."

"The ostentatious campaign of the last sixty hours [to the war] did not bring about any improvement in Israel's standing, but 34 families lost their loved ones in those sixty hours," they write.

"We do make personal conclusions, and that's why this is the true national report," says Ariela Goldman, who lost her son Noam in the war. "We, the parents, are going into battle for the name of the war, its objectives; the true story. We are going into battle that is not only about personal [conclusions] but about national [conclusions]," she told Army Radio.

Uzi Dayan, chairman of the Tafnit party, who wrote the conclusions chapter of the report and has been an outspoken critic of Olmert since the war, said the prime minister would have to respond to the report's recommendations.

"The bereaved families are putting their truth on the Knesset's table, and shifting the decision to the political arena," he told Army Radio. "We don't pretend to supercede the Winograd Committee, but all that remains of [Winograd] is something that is not even personal conclusions, which is why we chose to lend our voice."

Army Radio reported that the families wanted to present the report to Olmert himself but were refused entry to the Prime Minister's Office. Later, MK Arye Eldad (NU-NRP) attempted to give Olmert a copy of the report in the Knesset plenum, but Olmert refused to accept the document.

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