View Full Version : Israelis Lose Faith in New Leaders

09-18-2006, 07:43 AM
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — A growing public frustration and disappointment at the government's handling of the latest Lebanon war has raised many questions over the "quality" and efficiency of politicians and generals nowadays with recent polls showing that the incumbent have failed the leadership test, a leading US newspaper reported Sunday, September 17.

"We have never been through such a loss of faith in the political and military leadership at the same time. I'm afraid people are beginning to lose confidence in the system itself," Zeev Sternhell, who fought in four of Israel's wars and is author of "The Founding Myths of Israel," told The Washington Post.

Recent opinion polls show that a large majority of Israelis believe the previous leaders were better than the current ones, while one in five Israelis does not think any of the senior party leaders is suitable to be prime minister.

"How have we left our leadership to such mediocre people?" wondered Eliad Shraga, 46, head of the nonpartisan Movement for Quality Government in Israel.

Shraga staged a nearly three-week hunger strike outside Olmert's office after returning from reserve duty in the Lebanon war.

"We are asking ourselves how this has happened to us."

Not to mention a flurry over a series of corruption and sex scandals involving politicians and the president himself, the Israelis are fuming at the military's poor performance in the Lebanon war after the Lebanese resistance movement inflicted heavy losses on the armed-to-the-teeth army.

"A war we don't win is a war we lose," said Sternhell.

Yaar's monthly "peace index" tracking poll has showed a large drop in support for the military, along with other public institutions.

Yaar noted that the marks for Olmert's government, in particular, and the parliament "were already extremely low in the past and they did not have much space to shrink further."

Leader Wanted

When the Marker, a business supplement published by the daily newspaper Haaretz, revealed its picks for the 100 Israelis with the most influence over the economy, no name appeared in the top slot, only the words: "Leader Wanted!"

Desperate as he was, Daniel Kayros sacrificed his lucrative job as a corporate lawyer to run the fiscal litigation department of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.

He manned a tent for weeks across from Olmert's office festooned with banners fraying Olmert.

"Against the backdrop of the amazing historic story of this country, to see the crumbling of government morals is extremely discouraging," said Kayros.

"To me, it is an emergency call to the flag. I only wish more of the country felt that way."

Less Ideological

"We are asking ourselves how this has happened to us," said Shraga.

Israel's mainstream political leadership now consists mostly of pragmatic men and women who have made politics their profession -- a sharp contrast to the first generation of ideological leaders.

"The whole system of values has changed," Isaac Herzog, the 46-year-old Tourism Minister, told the Post.

"I would say our generation is more willing to compromise, less willing to see ideology as holy."

Tom Segev, a prominent Israeli historian, agreed.

"These new politicians don't regard themselves as mythological figures, nor does the public view them that way," he said.

"And on the healthy side, the public no longer has giants it will blindly trust."


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