Sunday, January 08, 2006

Israel/Sharon -- 2 comments

1. There has been some comment on the J-blogosphere about the celebrations in the PA over Sharon's illness. In one response, Dovbear, for example, has warned Jewish bloggers/commentators that
"Any of you who may choose to point out that those bloodthirsty Palestinians are celebrating the news of Ariel Sharon's declining health had better be sure your hands and blogs are perfectly clean on the matter of Rachel Corrie."
But why go that far? Over the past few days, I have been absolutely horrified to read the comments left by Israelis themselves all over the Hebrew internet site of YNet and Ma'ariv's site, NRG, wishing Sharon ill, a hasty death, suffering, or expressing passive-aggressive indifference ("please make sure his funeral is in the afternoon, I have a hair appointment in the morning"). We're not talking about a handful of people but about dozens and perhaps even hundreds.
Now Israeli politics has never been pleasant and Israeli political discourse never anything less than aggressive, so I suppose it's all par for the course, but it's still disgusting. The man is still a prime minister of Israel, a man who dedicated his life to the country, and not least -- a human being.
Comment in the Jewish blogosphere about Sharon's situation, by comparison, has been almost uniformally polite at the very least, even in blogs which did not support his recent policies -- I guess reflecting the more civil norms of political discourse outside of Israel -- kol hakavod.
2. I am slightly bemused by the calm, accepting, even enthusiastic reception Ehud Olmert is receiving in the media as the potential next Prime Minister. He is widely distrusted, with many regarding him as having a shady track-record. And rather than hearing concerns that the man, as mayor of Jerusalem, couldn't even arrange for the garbage to be collected on time -- how can he be expected to run an entire country? -- we're being reassured, somewhat blithely, that he's a 'seasoned politician' who 'knows the system,' and that we're in safe hands.
This shows more about the paucity of the other candidates for the job than about Olmert's suitability. Let's hope that he rises to the occasion and that the moment maketh the man, and that this laid-back attitude towards someone who one week ago would never have been considered prime ministerial material isn't something we all end up regretting.

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