If Americans were more like Israelis, Bush’s popularity at the polls would be at…0 percent. That’s where Ehud Olmert’s approval rate is among Israelis, said CNN today. Olmert’s position at the polls had hovered between 2 and 3 percent, before bottoming out.
The anger is over the Second Lebanon War last year. Israelis are furious not only over the execution of the war, but over the fact that it had been prosecuted at all. Whereas large segments of the fantasy-based community in the US see great benefits to the destabilization of Iraq, or at least so they say—Israelis in overwhelming numbers believe leveling Lebanon was a horrible thing to do. Oddly enough, here at home, harpies for Bush continue to talk up the Second Lebanon War, even though Israelis have long since disowned it and the president who prosecuted it. “You’ve failed; go home” is the rallying cry across Israel.
The Winograd Report on that war, unparalleled in the US, has placed “the primary responsibility for these failures on the Prime Minister, the minister of defense and the (outgoing) Chief of Staff. All three made a decisive personal contribution to these decisions and the way in which they were made.” What simple, clear truths, the kind that evade us in the US.
The preamble to the Winograd Report states:
“We believe Israeli society has great strength and resilience, with a robust sense of the justice of its being and of its achievements.”
I have to agree—all the more so given that four years hence and most Americans still refuse to process what Bush wrought by invading Iraq and how corrupt that endeavor was.
Update: Bush vetoed the Iraq War Supplemental today. I think it’s his first veto in office. He blamed “members of the House and the Senate” for passing “a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders. Contrast that with the Israeli Winograd Report which accused Olmert of “acting in effect as a rubber stamp for the army.” Funny that. In Israel they think the people, represented (allegedly) by the government and parliament, ought to make decisions; in the US we think it’s the generals (who, face it, give dumb a new meaning, if to judge by their acumen thus far).
Update II: The footage of 100,000 Israelis—of the left, right and center; religious and irreligious—gathered at Rabin Square to call on the government to resign warms the cockles. Author Meir Shalev derided the government thus:
“We do not seek compensation, not even remorse for your sins of lack of judgment, your arrogance. You ran headfirst into battle with the gaiety of fresh recruits, without a plan or an objective. You squandered Israel’s power of deterrence, you squandered our chances of bringing back the captives and worst of all – you squandered the lives of soldiers and civilians.”
They mention civilians! What will it take for conservative in this country to mention the poor, dying people of Iraq, upon which we’ve unleashed death and destruction, and who will probably never know peace again.
Anyone who has lived in, or visited, Israel knows that it is a country of independent-minded, anti-authoritarian, critical and demanding people. What can I say? Jews! Anyone who conflates the common American neocon with the regular Israeli has never encountered that odd creature, the Sabra, that prickly pair.
The assorted Hebrew signs read: “Failures, Go Home!”, “Elections Now!” These are all very tame, but things are sure to heat up…if I know Israel.