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The Olmert Government Teeters: The Web Responds

Playing farce in the history of the Cinco de Mayo Week '08 to the tragedy of the possible conquest of Lebanon by Iran Hezbollah, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is fighting off allegations that he accepted bribes from American Jewish … Read More

By / May 9, 2008

Playing farce in the history of the Cinco de Mayo Week '08 to the tragedy of the possible conquest of Lebanon by Iran Hezbollah, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is fighting off allegations that he accepted bribes from American Jewish businessman Morris Talansky to help fund his wife's art career, and unlike previous Olmert scandals, this one credibly threatens both Olmert's political career and the viability of his Kadima party.

Toni O'Loughlin: "The scandal threatens to demolish the already shaky coalition government and raises questions about whether a general election would be required if Olmert resigns. It also risks overshadowing next week's visit by the US president, George Bush, who has scheduled the trip to celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary and to shore up the faltering peace talks with the Palestinians."

Avi Green: "I see that Ehud Barak is still stalling and biding for time…All he's doing is stalling out of his apparently being more interested in a government seat than in true responsibility. I suggest he start to rethink his position, because his colleagues are getting very restless."

Nathan Guttman: "The [Talansky] case is being described in the Israeli press as the most serious of three investigations currently being conducted into Olmert’s affairs…Talansky and Olmert first crossed paths when the Long Island businessman directed the American fundraising operation for Shaare Tzedek Hospital and the then-mayor was a guest at events organized by the group in the United States."

Amir Oren: "The investigation into Olmert's relationship with the man dubbed 'Mr. T' has once again proven two ancient truths about the media. One is that 'the medium is the message,' as Marshall McLuhan averred in his classic work, entitled Understanding Media. The other is that the presence of the observer alters the outcome of the experiment he is there to observe. The proof can be found in the surprising twists that the press has woven into the story's plot by reporting on it. The media midwifed the affair, kept it from dying and has turned itself into the arena for the coming rounds."

Bernard Avishai: "Indeed, the best scenario is not unlikely — not if the Bush administration supports it actively, and helps keep restless ministers (like former Likud defense minister Shaul Mofaz) bailing water instead of abandoning ship. It is that Livni and Barak will govern together for a year or so, and reconstitute the Israeli center, while putting the taint of corruption behind them. Only this will deny Netanyahu his second act. Something must."

 

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