Monday the 15th of February 2016 was a sad day for the people of Israel and on the other hand, it was a day of national pride.
At 10 o’clock in the morning, our former Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, surrendered himself at the gates of the Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle to begin serving a nineteen month prison sentence. He is now known as prisoner # 9032478.
He is the first Prime Minister in Israel to serve time in prison for crimes he committed.
Shortly before his arrival at Ma’asiyahu, Olmert made a video in which he claimed he was not guilty of the charges of fraud and bribery. He still claimed his innocence despite the heavy evidence and testimonies against him in the court.
It is a sad day for us to see a man of prior high esteem and leadership now fallen behind prison bars.
He keeps company with our former President, Moshe Katzav, serving several years on charges of rape. Both men are in the same prison spending their confinement in relative comfort in cell block 10.
He will be awakened each morning at 5 o’clock for roll call and will be inspected at 7:30 before beginning his day.
Aich naflu gibborim…. “How the mighty have fallen”.
On the other hand, it should be a day of great rejoicing for all of us in Israel. It upholds the virtue of our law and our law courts. It proves that in our democracy, no man is above the law.
Yet it is sad that Olmert, in his video statement, clings to the myth that he is not guilty of charges brought against him. It is sad that he cannot realize the truth and admit to it.
In his crime of bribery in the Holyland affair, he was not the only guilty partner.
He shares that unhappy distinction with the man who offered him envelopes stuffed with currency, the American Morris Talansky.
As an American citizen living in the United States, Talansky could not be charged. But I hope that if and when he arrives in Israel again, he will be arrested and charged with conspiracy in the case against Ehud Olmert.
This is a day unlike any other day. An historic day for our courts and our law. Our democracy shines in a world surrounded by darkness and dictatorship.
Once again Israel has proven that whoever breaks the law must be punished. The “no man is above the law” were words which Ehud Olmert concluded in his video remarks.
Perhaps these were the only true words he has spoken.
Guilty, says the court. Not guilty, says the condemned Olmert.
The law is supreme in our beloved democratic Jewish State. That is reason to rejoice!