01 May 2007

30 April 2007 - The Winograd report

Will Olmert survive the Winograd report? It seems unlikely. His party, Kadima, will want to oust him to preserve their government, much like the sailors tossing Jonah overboard. Perhaps more than a few Israeli politicians would then follow him, and be replaced by moderates such as Tzipi Livni and Shimon Peres, who seem to have emerged relatively untarnished by the events of the last nine months.

Hezbollah, naturally, is calling the report a confirmation of its victory. The really weird thing is how Hezbollah anticipates democratic political changes in Israel—the kinds of changes that are virtually impossible in the Arab world. It all makes sense if you consider Hezbollah’s own domestic political ambitions—thankfully unrealized thus far—to oust the Lebanese government—but it still strikes me as odd.

And did Hezbollah really win? Edward Luttwak thinks not, and I am inclined to agree with the conclusion he arrived at last August: “Yet another unexpected result of the war is that Nasrallah's power-base in southern Lebanon is now a hostage to Hezbollah's good behaviour.” At the same time, Israel’s deterrent force—to say nothing of its internal self-confidence—has been severely diminished.

Of course, the fact that Israel would conduct a public inquiry—however restrained—into its government’s performance—says much about the strength of Israeli democracy. That, at least, is one ray of hope in these otherwise dark days for Israel and for the future of moderation and negotiation in the Middle East in general. Hopefully new and better leadership can emerge.

In other developments, It’s Almost Supernatural has put together some characteristically excellent posts recently—among others, one post on the lessons of apartheid in South Africa, and another on a surprise visit by South African President Thabo Mbeki to a Yom Ha’Atzmaut party—the latest evidence that “schizophrenic” might really be the best word to describe South Africa’s policy in the Middle East and elsewhere.


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