Bibi the Schnorrer v Olmert the Crook, and why the J Post should be the J Toast

My issue with Bibi is not about whether he may have dipped his beak a bit here and there. Politicians tend to be a sleazy lot, and a bit of self-service is often par for the course.

No, my issue is his (and especially his wife’s) shameless mooching off overseas moguls for everything from pink champagne to, now, payment for his legal fees as he stands trial. We have enough haredi schnorrers mooching their way around the Jewish world. El Al’s business class is full of them. But having a schnorrer-in-chief at the helm of government is truly an embarrassment to us all.

Having said this, Bibi is still a class act compared to a true, relentless, lifelong grifter like Ehud Olmert. Unlike Bibi, Olmert never had to schnorr the millions needed to pay for his legal defense. He had the money. “Cash money” as the Russians say. Only no one – NO ONE – knows exactly how he made that money. As a lifetime civil “servant” he never earned enough to own a decent apartment, let alone peel of millions from his wad in order to net a vastly shorter term in the hoosegow than he most surely deserved.

Had Israel’s vaunted Lahav 433 police investigators done their job right they would have drilled down to the source of those millions, not to mention the millions remaining in Olmert’s bottomless pockets, the millions he paid for his splendid new Tel Aviv aerie, and the millions needed to live the high life and show his face in public. Perhaps he made it on poker while whiling away his time in the pen.

The shamelessness of Ehud Olmert is now aided and abetted by the Jerusalem Post where has become its star columnist. Yes the Post provides a bully pulpit which Ehud Olmert uses with brazen hutzpah to moralize and shoot barbs at Bibi, a rank amateur in the shady grady department compared to his nauseating predecessor.

It is known that the Jerusalem Post is a grossly mismanaged enterprise. About a year ago it unceremoniously dumped many of its professional, long-time journalists in order to stay in business. These were replaced by cheap, here-today-and-gone-tomorrow, rank amateurs. In addition there’s an ongoing flotsam and jetsam of over-the-transom contributions from writers seeking their 15 seconds of fame, and for which the Post can print acres of ink without having to pay an agora to the authors.

Indeed, it is entirely possible that Olmert himself is providing a half page of poisoned ink each week at little or no cost. For him this is an ongoing opportunity to restore his irreparable reputation, while handing the Post another half page of freeby, albeit malignant, ‘journalism’. And, of course, the Post describes the writer as “The 12th Prime Minister of Israel”, rather than as the first Prime Minister of Israel to spend time in jail, where he should still be, and for a very, very long time at that.

The miracle of our wonderful country – and it is wonderful – is how effectively it operates despite the trash heap at the top. Here we have just weathered three months of unprecedented crisis, and come through with flying colors. Our medical system, our military, our local community councils, and spontaneous battalions of heartfelt, cheerful volunteers managed to navigate this country flawlessly even though there was no national Government to speak of, only nasty overgrown children fighting and bickering and dividing the pie to the most self-serving extent possible. The net result is a bloated cabinet of mostly political hacks who will get such fat paychecks there will be no reason to steal, not that this will necessarily stop some of them.

Having said this, we are still fortunate to have Bibi as our PM if the alternative would have been the likes of an Ehud Olmert. On some level Bibi still gives a damn about Israel and doesn’t behave like a banana republic despot who spares his own children from army service and relocates in New York while defacing one of the world’s most beautiful cities in order to enrich himself.

As for an English newspaper, the spineless – and largely staff-less – Jerusalem Post does not cut it. Unless you need to get something off your chest and no one else will provide a place where you can do so.

About the Author
J.J Gross is a veteran creative director and copywriter, who made aliyah in 2007 from New York. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a lifelong student of Bible and Talmud. He is also the son of Holocaust survivors from Hungary and Slovakia.
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