OK, Lehman Bros went belly up. Far as I am from wealth, I still find this upsetting. I find it even more upsetting that the Israeli political system currently has about as much credibility with the public as Lehman’s assets had with its creditors. The ruling party’s vote tomorrow for a new leader comes down to a choice for a receiver, which may be why the public is unenthusiastic but prefers corporate lawyer Tzipi Livni – if you can believe polls, which you can’t. My article on the reasons for the bankruptcy is now up at the American Prospect:
Yossi Sarid entered Israel’s parliament 34 years ago as one of two young, rising stars. The other was Ehud Olmert. Today, Olmert is prime minister, but the operative word here is “today.” Last week, the police recommended to prosecutors that Olmert be indicted for bribery, money laundering, and other forms of corruption too numerous for anyone outside the fraud squad to keep track of…
Sarid, on the other hand, resigned from the Knesset two years ago after a long, principled, and impassioned career… “I felt more than a small measure of apathy, if not to say despair, with the political system,” he told me last week, in the deep melodious voice that can still make a phone conversation hint at a stump speech. “I felt … that the system no longer mobilized the resources of my soul.”
The melancholy last acts of the two careers point to the malaise of Israeli politics. The system itself appears virtually bankrupt, lacking the basic asset of public trust and no longer offering a clear choice between competing ideas.
Read the whole article here, and return to South Jerusalem to comment.