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Olmert: Bibi Squirreled Away $2.75-Billion for Iran Adventure

Hell hath no fury like a politician spurned and Ehud Olmert is proving the truth of this statement.  In an interview with Channel 2 news (Hebrew and English here), he dropped a bombshell: Bibi Netanyahu and his fellow buccaneer Ehud Barak, have salted away nearly $3-billion in the Israeli budget for what the former PM calls Bibi’s “delusional adventure.”  Olmert further claims that the plan for which the funding has been allocated will never be carried out, inferring that this is Bibi’s Folly, a war that may never be fought.  Though the precise meaning isn’t specified, it clearly implies he’s speaking of an attack on Iran.

What’s shocking about this revelation is that such figures and information would normally be held as top-secret and under strict military censorship.  After all, for any country wanting to know how many resources Israel has dedicated to this attack, whether it be Iran or the U.S., such knowledge is a gold mine.  Which is why I’m shocked this story hasn’t been censored.  Of course, I’m glad it hasn’t because knowledge that such a vast sum has been reserved for war against Iran should raise further doubts in the minds of Israelis about the wisdom of this military adventurism.  Do Israelis really want to dedicate such a sum to a project with so little promise of a positive outcome?

While Olmert’s candor is of course welcome, one marvels that he’s caught that severe ailment that afflicts many Israeli leaders once they leave office: an attack of truth-telling.  While in office they found every reason to delay and temporize regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict, but once rid of the trappings of power they start telling the world how things should be.  This, of course, raises the question: why didn’t they do something while they had power?

When he was PM, he had a golden opportunity to negotiate a peace treaty with Syria, but instead chose a disastrous war in Gaza.  He also fought a second war in Lebanon that was equally tragic for Israel.  Instead of offering the PA a deal it could sell to the Palestinians, Olmert offered a sham deal that came back to haunt Abbas when it was exposed by Al Jazeera.  Of course, in Olmert’s eyes he’s the hero because he came within a fraction of making peace.  History won’t see it that way I’m afraid.

Not to mention that he frittered all of this potential good away by enriching himself with sordid financial schemes.  Bill Clinton liked women and Olmert liked SlimFast boxes filled with cash.  If it sounds like I’m angry, I am.  Here was a politician who’d traveled a long political road from his extreme right-wing parental legacy of the Irgun to Israel’s political center.  He might have continued Ariel Sharon’s moves toward conciliation and territorial compromise if he’d had the right stuff.  But alas he didn’t.  And Israel will suffer for it.

In a sense, Olmert’s revelation continues his tradition of having loose lips regarding Israeli secrets (and thank God for that).  It was Olmert while he was PM who was the first Israeli leader to admit Israel had nuclear weapons.  As an aside, in Ronen Bergman’s puff piece interview with Shimon Peres in the New York Times Magazine, Peres too exposes Israel’s worst kept secret when he praises himself for creating the nation’s nuclear program:

I do not think there are many people in the world who can say they managed to…create a nuclear option in a small country…

What is of course ironic about all this is that when Shimon Peres violates Israeli secrecy he’s an international statesman, but when Anat Kamm does it she’s a criminal (and traitor).  Let it not be said that Israel lacks for hypocrisy.

Returning to Peres’ interview, the nonagenarian may be verging on political irrelevance, but he does have some sharp and telling things to say against the disaster that has been Bibi Netanyahu’s leadership.  It’s instructive that a liberal Zionist like Peres raises the specter of apartheid and international boycott as serious prospects if Israel continues on its current course.

Here Peres warns of the outcome should Israel continue to refuse to reach a reasonable settlement with the Palestinians:

“Most of the world will support the Palestinians, justify their actions, level the sharpest criticism at us, falsely label us a racist state. Our economy will suffer gravely if a boycott is declared against us. The world’s Jews want an Israel they can be proud of and not an Israel that has no borders and that is considered an occupying state.

…If Israel were to stand alone, its enemies would swallow it up. Without U.S. support, it would be very difficult for us. We would be like a lone tree in the desert.

…There are a billion and a half Muslims. The Palestinian problem affects our entire relationship with them. If the Palestinian problem were to be solved, the Islamist extremists would be robbed of their pretext for their actions against us. Of course, this requires concessions.

This statement in particular will give Elliot Abrams and all neocons apoplexy:

If the Palestinian problem were solved, Islamist extremists would be robbed of a pretext for their actions against us.”

Of course, Peres being a liberal Zionist, there is a good deal of utter nonsense in the interview as well, including sexist claptrap about not making love with one’s eyes open and this Bergman pure puffery, which I don’t ever recall reading in any other New York Times interview:

It is a pleasure to spend time with this man.

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • yankel January 12, 2013, 4:00 AM

    As far as I know, Olmert’s parents were Irgun members, not Sternists (Lehiniks).

  • pabelmont January 12, 2013, 5:33 AM

    While in office, politicians would be subject (I should think) to agreements with other politicians, such as do-not-disclose agreements. Not laws, mind, merely agreements. Good as long as one remains in office or in joint government. Military officers — in many countries — are subject to “orders” from their superiors including the political leadership. An order not to disclose is an order.

    After you leave office or leave the military, orders are canceled, though secrecy laws likely continue their malign embrace. Or so I should imagine.

  • pabelmont January 12, 2013, 6:16 AM

    I don’t buy Peres’s worrying about trade sanctions, nation-state-level BDS. Although exactly that is my fondest hope, I don’t expect it, and I doubt Peres worries about it. He is flashing it, in any case, to suggest that he-and-his are the statesmen, the realists, and that the others are the fools, the adventurers. I wish him good luck on it, especially if he can persuade “the nations” to confirm his worst fears with BDS-like action.

    However, a dose of realism here: as Ben Gurion is said to have said, roughly, “it doesn’t matter what the gentiles say, it matters only what the Jews do” (implying that it might matter what the gentiles do). And, so far, in 64 years, the gentiles have been content to speak without taking action.

  • William Burns January 12, 2013, 6:26 AM

    “I do not think there are many people in the world who can say they managed to…create a nuclear option in a small country…”

    Peres must take great pride from sharing this exclusive status with Kim Jong-Il.

    • Castellio January 12, 2013, 6:31 PM

      Thanks for that comparison… why can’t they understand that in DC?

  • Fred Plester January 12, 2013, 6:46 AM

    If the attack led to an ongoing conflict with Iran, $3bn would barely last a week.

    It’s been a while since anyone fired an Exocet at a large container ship, for example, but the last time this happened (when the Atlantic Conveyor was sunk) the equivalent of Bibi’s war chest was spent all at once.

    $3bn is not enough to fight a war with Iran. It would suffice, however, to start a war which countries other than Israel might have to finish, at murderous cost.

    • Terri Knoll January 13, 2013, 12:16 PM

      that’s the scariest part of it.

  • yankel January 12, 2013, 6:55 AM

    A few points:

    (a) It was no other than Bibi to let out the then secret of having bombed Syria’s nascent nuclear facilty. It had been disclosed to him – by Olmert – in his, Bibi’s, official capacity as head of the opposition. Keeping the op secret was considered of importance, to keep Assad from losing face and thus, maybe, forced into retaliation.

    (b) Peres – as defence minister in Rabin’s first government (’74 to ’77) – was, in practice, one of the sponsors of the religio-nationalist settler movement. He did it by omission. It was under him that the standard of procrastination in removing unapproved – let alone illegal – settlements, allowing them time to gain permanence. Peres, of course, wasn’t doing it for ideology but as a means to undermine his nemesis within the Labour party, prime-minister Rabin.

    (c) Peres, “the nonagenarian”, hasn’t yet turned 90 and by no means is he “verging on political irrelevance”. In Israel, it’s the president’s discretion to choose which member of the house would attempt assembling a cabinet. In Israel’s increasingly fragmented, ever-fluid party system and with Peres’ history of political trickery, I wouldn’t call him “politically irrelevant” before he’s 6 foot under.

    (d) “It is a pleasure to spend time with this man.” As much as I dislike the guy and his character, I must note that I’ve heard similar comments before.

    • Richard Silverstein January 13, 2013, 1:24 AM

      I read that the first major Israeli demonstration on behalf of building settlements was spearheaded by Peres. Either that or he acquiesced to the demands of the settlers & became a political patron of the nascent settler movement before it became imbued with far right nationalist chauvinism.

      • Castellio January 13, 2013, 2:41 PM

        That is my understanding as well. Peres has always been a fighter for Greater Israel, and has done everything in his power to achieve it, and still does. The charm is his greatest tool.

  • yankel January 12, 2013, 8:34 AM

    A worthy off-topic. Idan Landau has just released yet another must-read, well-researched post about the plight of the Palestinian population in the Jordan-Valley.

    It’s written Hebrew, but worth the effort of reading its auto-translation if one can’t read the original:
    http://idanlandau.com/2013/01/12/lies-and-roadblocks-in-the-jordan-valley/

  • Dave Terry January 12, 2013, 10:53 AM

    I HAD to laugh when you rounded off $2.75 Billion to $3-Billion. It reminds me of Sen. Everett Dirksen’s classic retort;
    “a $billion here, a $billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money”

  • Davey January 12, 2013, 9:10 PM

    Were Peres in power, what would he actually do toward solving the Palestinian problem, given his history? What solution would he present, what concessions?

    • marc January 13, 2013, 11:08 AM

      Given peres’ history of being the most damaging Israeli political figure in the history of whole damn state – he would give no concession. None. Zilch. Zero. Null.

      He would, of course, wrap that none in a packet of putrid and meandering verbiage as is his wont.

      Damn that man.

      • yankel January 13, 2013, 11:50 AM

        I share your loathing of the man. A teenager at the time, I had the privilege of being detained, back in ’74, in one of the earliest demonstrations – the first within the Old City walls – against his pro-settlements policies, him being defence minister at the time.

        Having said that, some credit should be given where credit’s due.

        The early ’90s Oslo based secret negotiations, leading to the Oslo agreements – the nearest Israelis and Palestinians ever got to mutual reconciliation – took place on his personal behalf, him being foreign minister at the time.

        • Castellio January 13, 2013, 2:44 PM

          Yes, well, ask yourself the actual intent of the Oslo Accords, stalling or agreement? Peres has always played the long game.

          • yankel January 14, 2013, 3:57 AM

            You’re wholly mistaken.
            Where Bibi-cum-Barak took it later is another opera.

          • Castellio January 15, 2013, 9:00 AM

            Yankel, how about Sharon… where did he take it? I used to think the Israeli side of the Oslo Accords was, at least at one point, sincere; but now I really have my doubts. Yes, Rabin paid the price: but how is it that no subsequent government honoured the accords?

          • yankel January 16, 2013, 7:18 AM

            The immediately subsequent government was Bibi’s (thanks, at least partly, to a wave of deadly attacks in Tel-Aviv). Bibi is on record taking great pride of having managed to stop the Oslo process. When Barak came, the peace process was in tatters and his commitment to the cause was far lesser than Peres’s and the late Rabin’s. Then Barak and Arafat brought about a second intifada, Bibi returned and the rest is history.

            When signed, the Oslo Accords culminated honest efforts to bring about a mutually acceptable solution.

  • bluto January 13, 2013, 6:58 AM

    Israel has been in chaos ever since Bibi was stopped cold on Iran – and now with the daisies being planted over it with the Hagel nomination

    Israel is just making mistake after mistake now – they are ‘all in’ for Apartheid now, committed to it, with the mask of the looming Iran war having been torn off

    Israel is fixed in place and Apartheid is becoming ripe for the plucking

    Hagel ‘ON’ = Iran ‘OFF’ = Israeli Apartheid ‘OFF’=Israeli Lobby ‘OFF’

  • The Mighty Cynic January 13, 2013, 3:28 PM

    Not to mention how much $$$ he made with his oil securities while implementing false brinkmanship to manipulate prices. He should pay for the amount of damage he did to America, Iran, and the rest.

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