Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Begin Example of Modesty Included in NY Sun Editorial

Banana Peel Republic?

Editorial of The New York Sun | September 9, 2008

The decision by the Israeli police to recommend indictments against Prime Minister Olmert comes as a startling, even shocking development to those of us who have thrilled to the idealism of the Jewish state. It's not that the news arrived out of the blue. Less than two months ago, Mr. Olmert decided to resign, declaring that he would not contest his party's primary election of a new party leader. Mr. Olmert's agreement to hold that vote, scheduled for September 17, was itself a sign of his eroding position.

His July 30 resignation preempted Sunday's news that the police had concluded that "an apparent basis of evidence has been consolidated against [the] prime minister" on charges that include bribery, breach of public trust, and money laundering. Police are taking a further look at accusations that in the years immediately preceding his accidental emergence as prime minister, Mr. Olmert double billed his travel expenses.

By American standards, the amounts concerned are relatively small. As one wag said in 1977 when Yitzhak Rabin was forced to resign his first prime ministership over a $5,000 account in an American bank, Mr. Olmert has "slipped on a banana peel." What is emerging is the sense that Israel is moving from a banana peel to, if not a banana republic, at least a banana peel republic. Gone are the austere revolutionary lifestyles of the first generation of political leadership from both left and right. Golda Meir and Menachem Begin both lived in small apartments. David Ben Gurion retired to a desert kibbutz.
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