Why Israelis Should Celebrate Olmert’s Conviction

israel turkey corruption cartoon from april fool's day 2014

Yesterday, a court in Israel convicted its own former Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, on charges of bribery and corruption. Olmert made his initial wealth and connections as a trader on Wall Street. Legend has it that Olmert came up with the title for the Hollywood movie “Pretty in Pink” starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.

For more Israel related cartoons and humor, go to Oy Vey

So, Olmert made his money among a pack of bankers and investors, and his creative vision contributed to the promotion of a movie about a woman of ill-repute and her romantic involvement with a wealthy man. Is anyone really surprised that a man of such noble character would end up in this situation?

Former Jerusalem Mayor Lupoliansky was convicted on related charges. It just so happens that he wore the cloth of ultra-Orthodox piety. So much for the first religious mayor of the re-united Jerusalem being able to walk the talk of righteousness. This shame may well be what former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kolek feared the most for his beloved city.

A number of leading businessmen and officials were also found guilty of lesser bribery and corruption offenses in the case.

Of course, prosecutors and those who support the dispensing of justice to all, could not be more delighted. The defense of the convicts, meanwhile, remains much less vocal, either because they’re just waiting for the right time to voice their opinion of the judgement, or because they know that it’s game over for their team. You’d think they might have learned something from watching all those years of the popular reality TV show ‘Big Brother’.

Israel-bashers will probably use this stain on Israel’s culture mythos as another excuse to support such irrelevant political efforts as the BDS movement, aimed at harming Israel economically by holding its foreign investors hostage for their business dealings with Israeli entity in the West Bank. They will surely quote all kinds of deep thoughts about this being one more proof of Israel being a hotbed of ill-gotten gains. You will no doubt be soon able to read some opinions about how Israel behaves worse than the worst dictatorships in the Arab World, and wherever else freedom is a luxury for the privileged few, and democracy exists in name only.

Unfortunately, Israelis don’t engage in the annual April Fool’s Day tradition very much, so no one on the West Coast of the Middle East is expecting the judge to announce that the whole thing was just a gag ordered by his peers, following an illegal settlement over a bet he lost.

Israel defenders, however, do have at least one ace up their sleeve, though sadly it probably won’t secure the immediate release of Israeli American spy Jonathan Pollard, or strengthen the defense of the settlements in Judea and Samaria. And that ace lies in the very conviction of these former business and political bosses. You see, while it may be a great stain on the fabled beliefs about Israel, at least Israel has shown that it is not afraid to put on trial even its most elite members of society.

Or as my friend Adam Remez said when reacting to the news about the Olmert conviction, “At least we’re not Turkey.”

Full disclosure: In addition to scoring public figures with his pen, Yasha Harari has worked for political organizations and the media in America, Europe and Israel.