September 28, 2008
A farewell interview

We often know what politicians are saying, and sometimes what they are doing. It is far more rare to know why. It is easy to ascribe motives, but usually impossible to be certain of them.

I thought of this classic problem when reading the headline in Yedioth Aharonot on the eve of the New Year. In what was described as a farewell interview, Ehud Olmert spoke of withdrawing from almost all of the West Bank, from the Golan Heights, and Jerusalem. The headline did not say so, but as I looked for the entire interview I presumed that he meant withdrawal from only part of Jerusalem.

Whatever the details, and they may not matter in the case of a duck as lame as Olmert, he has come a long way from being a government minister for right of center Likud.

From all the reports, he has also put a lot of cash in his pocket during his years in public office. Currently he is serving as a care-taker prime minister, waiting until the newly elected leader of his party succeeds in forming a government, or until a national election. He is also waiting on the decision of the attorney general as to whether to issue an indictment for one or more charges of fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, and dereliction of duty.

Olmert is now saying that "I am saying to you what no Israeli leader has said before me."

That may be true. It is also the case that Olmert himself has never said it before in his more than 30 years of climbing the political ladder, speaking before party activists and the entire electorate. If this is a new way of politics, Americans might expect George W. Bush to convert to Islam on the 19th of January.

Why is Olmert saying this now, when he seems to be on the way out?

As noted above, we will never know, for sure, the answer to that question. Among the options are:

He has had an epiphany, and now sees the truth that has evaded him all his life.
He has caved in to years of nagging by a left-wing wife and children.
He is looking at the continuation of what is likely to be a lengthy judicial proceeding, that might end in shame or prison. Insofar as some of his former allies have turned against him, or turned their back to him, he may be striking out in anger. If he is going down, he will do what he can to cause problems for those he is leaving behind at the pinnacle of Israeli government.
He is seeking support from the Israeli left, in the hope that it will help him with the prosecutors and judges that he must face in the months ahead.
Olmert says that he wants to learn from his mistakes. He recognizes the problems involved in deals with Syria, but he is willing to accept reasonable risks in exchange for long-term gains in security. He has worked hard for two years in order to bring Israel to a dramatic decision for peace. He is close to an agreement, and will be sad if it eludes him and the country.

Olmert says that no previous national leader has spoken in this way. However, not a few Israeli politicians, academicians, journalists, and other activists have been speaking this way for years. Others from the right have opposed them, and a few from the extreme right have shouted their God-given rights to sit where they are and move even further into what Arabs claim as their own.

One can argue as to the most important stumbling blocks to the old visions. Part of the explanation is legitimate concern, shared by many on the left and in the center, about the intentions of those Arabs who have been Israel's enemies. Only some Arab leaders have spoken about accommodation. And those who do speak about peace have not given interviews parallel to that of Olmert. What we hear from those who some call moderates are continued demands in favor of an extensive right of return for "refugees" and their descendents to pre-1967 Israel, as well as borders of 1967 or even earlier.

My vote for the major stumbling block to peace is Arab intransigence. It appears in Syria's insistence that Israel agree (before detailed talks begin) that it will give back all of the Golan Heights, using Syria's extensive definition of the territory involved, as well as the frequent proclamations of Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian colleagues.

Leaving aside the knotty question as to whether Olmert's interview can advance or condemn further talks with Syria and the Palestinians, we still have the question as to the credibility of his end-of-career mea culpa. It has all the signs of a jailhouse conversion. Numerous Americans accept Jesus when faced with serious punishment. Israeli criminals appear in court with skullcaps and beards. Olmert has not moved toward the Torah in order to gain support. Insofar as the reputation of Israeli jurists is left of center, Olmert may be following his well-trod path of maximizing opportunity.

We can expect some responses, probably heated, from Olmert's colleagues in the political arena. I would bet on condemnation and cynicism from the right, welcome from the left, silence in public from much of the center, and not much activity in the absence of similar interviews from Mahmoud Abbas or Bashar al-Asad.

More promising are the smells in the kitchen. I am looking forward to a good meal and a happy family celebration of the New Year. And to you all, Shana tova.

Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Home tel: 972-2-532-2725
Cell phone: 054-683-5325
Fax: 972-2-582-9144
msira@mscc.huji.ac.il

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 11:13 PM
September 27, 2008
World election

You think that it is an American election that is providing headlines throughout the world?

Think again.

Many of us are as dependent as the Americans on who is chosen. It is not just that part of the debate about what Americans call foreign policy: who will sit atop the pyramid of advisors and operators who aspire to change things in places they hardly understand, like Iraq, Afghanistan, Georgia, and Israel/Palestine. The other part of the debate about managing the American economy also affects paychecks and work opportunities in places as far afield as the high-tech laboratories of Israel and India, and all those contractors and sub-contractors in China and other places that make the clothes, medicines, electronic gadgets, and car parts that Americans have to buy in order to keep the money flowing.

It is patriotic for Americans to continue going into debt in order to keep the economic heart of the world beating. Americans, perhaps with overseas advice and contributions, must also manage that heart so that it does not get clogged by allowing people to buy homes they cannot afford, or financial wizards to fool themselves and others into thinking they can profit from the extravaganza.

More than two weeks of exposing myself to American mass media convinced me that a careful analysis could find wisdom being bantered, and perhaps a decent governmental mechanism to discuss the options and make a decision. Most of the time, however, it is too much a spectacle focusing on the issue of the moment with nothing more profound than luck determining who is perceived to have the best ideas, and whether a benefit for one or another interest or another gets adopted as public policy.

Whole days are spent on the crisis of the moment, whether it is a storm, the search for a solution to what is called the greatest economic crisis since World War II, what bank is failing today and which will fall tomorrow, whether there is about to be a debate between the candidates, or later who is thought to have won the debate.

Occasionally a bit of world news gets time on CNN, but it may have to be more dramatic than the sex life of an American politician or murder in a small town no one can locate on the map.

My own award for the dumbest snippet was a comment by Barak Obama ridiculing a one-liner of John McCain about a national commission to probe the sources of the financial meltdown and to propose remedies. Obama called it the oldest solution in the book: appointing a committee.

Of course it is an old solution. But if Obama had sought to understand and contribute to state and national legislatures instead of using his time there to run for yet a higher office, he would have learned that it is via committees that those bodies sort through the claims and opportunities. If he gets to the highest office of all, we can hope that he will use the power to do something for the people of America and the world, and not just for himself.

Before any of you accuse me of meddling in a partisan fashion, I will balance my comments by moaning about the prospects for all of us if the former mayor of Wasilla becomes the most powerful person. She is certainly attractive, and appealing when talking about her family. She may be smart, but what does she know about geography or public policy?

It is not likely that any nation's politics approaches the quality of a university seminar. Or perhaps it is not too many university seminars that approach the intellectual level of a nation's politics. After spending 45 years studying politics in the better universities of several countries, I cannot decide whether the greatest minds, or the greatest clowns, are to be found proclaiming their brilliance on campus, in the mass media, or in the offices of government. Skepticism and even cynicism are appropriate defenses that must be employed while exposing oneself and one's children to governments, media, and the universities.

No doubt that people living in countries affected by the United States-- and that is just about all of them-- have a right to express themselves about American candidates. The right to vote is something else. The United Nations is not a good example for international government. One can argue about the quality of American politics, and the skill with which American citizens debate and select their preferences. No matter how outsiders would judge Americans, residents of the world hardly seem better positioned to select the people who will sit in the White House and Congress.

Israelis do not "cross their fingers." It is too Christian. We "hold our fingers," and hope for the best.

Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Home tel: 972-2-532-2725
Cell phone: 054-683-5325
Fax: 972-2-582-9144
msira@mscc.huji.ac.il

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 09:49 PM
September 08, 2008
Ehud Olmert

How much of a criminal is Prime Minister Ehud Olmert?

For the time being, at least, he is not a criminal at all. The recommendations of the police to charge him with accepting bribes, breach of trust, and fraud do not determine anything by themselves. It is the attorney general who will decide about an indictment. In light of previous cases, it may take several months for this decision. By then, Olmert may not be prime minister. He is not a candidate in the party primary of Kadima, scheduled for next week. If the new party head manages to create a government coalition that wins endorsement of a Knesset majority, she or he will be the new prime minister. That, too, may not happen quickly. We may be heading for a national election, perhaps six or more months away.

That having been said, it is appropriate to weigh the charges against the prime minister, and what we know about the evidence collected by the police.

Even accepting the charges as described, they are not of great weight when judged by international comparison. They are far from what is said about the new president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari. He is called "Mr. ten percent" for the payments he is said to have collected from large contracts when he was the husband of the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Prince Berhard of the Netherlands provides a recent European example of much greater corruption than charged about Olmert. Most notable, but not alone, was a million dollar payment from Lockheed to smooth the purchase of the company's military hardware.

What we know about Olmert's actions include some letters he wrote endorsing the business of American fund raiser Morris Talansky. They are said to be a payoff for what may have been $150,000 given to Olmert over the course of 15 years. The money came in cash, carried by Talansky from American donors or from his own funds. Olmert may have garnered another $100,000 by multiple billing of government departments and other organizations for his expenses on overseas trips. He is said to have made improper appointments and awards when serving as minister in several government departments over a long career, and to have bought and sold homes in "sweetheart deals" that were disguised contributions. The findings of the police include the non-payment of taxes, and money laundering.

All of this may be illegal, but no reckoning reaches the sum achieved by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in one of his deals, and is leagues away from what is attributed to President Zardari of Pakistan.

In the nether-world between the conclusions of the police and the decision of the attorney general, politicians are acting in predictable ways. The sound had barely dimmed on the police press conference when opposition Knesset members were calling for the prime minister's immediate resignation. Within 24 hours his supporters were charging the police with having a political agenda and overreaching their authority. Supporters are predicting that there will be no indictment, or no verdict of guilty. "How can you say that?" is the theme of ongoing charges between the prime minister's opponents and supporters.

The improprieties attributed to Olmert while holding numerous positions over two decades may not in every case have been illegal, or of sufficient severity to bring charges. For those repelled by every violation of law, he has done enough to be forced out of office. For those who adopt George Washington Plunkitt's classic definition of "honest graft," it may be possible to overlook Olmert's actions. ("I seen my opportunities and I took 'em.")

It may take a while for the procedures to reach their conclusion. The judicial process is deliberate in the extreme. There are likely to be several efforts by Olmert's attorneys to delay any reckoning, and to soften the conclusions.

Recent polls show that sizable majorities do not believe the prime minister's claims of innocence, or feel that he should leave office. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that, at the least, he has fallen into the realm of "sleaze," and is a petty criminal. What he has done might not be "terrible" when judged by the actions of other national leaders, but hardly seem admirable, or acceptable in decent company. A country concerned about its reputation deserves better.

Olmert and other ranking officials are involved in negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria. Whatever their outcome, they are likely to provoke intense disputes between those who have already dug in their heels in behalf of accommodation or claims of historic national rights. If there is ever a time that a country needs a leadership untainted by questions of legitimacy, this is it.

Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Home tel: 972-2-532-2725
Cell phone: 054-683-5325
Fax: 972-2-582-9144
msira@mscc.huji.ac.il

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 05:03 AM
September 06, 2008
America

This election campaign is compelling me to look again at a country I left more than 30 years ago.

I wrote the following to some internet friends.

It's not too much of a stretch to see the presidential campaign focusing on:
Who is better looking? Obama or Palin?
Who gives a better speech? Obama or Palin?
Who has less experience? Obama or Palin?
If that is the way the world's most powerful country selects its leader, God help the rest of us.

One member of the group wrote to me:

You may think this is clever. I think it's insulting.


I grew up as an American patriot. From kindergarten through sixth grade in my public school during the 1940s, I said the Lord's Prayer and saluted the flag every morning. My parents were Republican and my father a McCarthyite.

I am not altogether certain why I came to Israel. I did not flee the United States. I had a good career there, and felt comfortable interacting with people at the summit of national and state government, as well as the military. I have also done well here, occasionally mixing with the elites of several sectors. My students have dealt with presidents and prime ministers.

I do not claim to have influenced either the United States or Israel, but I think that I have learned by observing both countries, and numerous others where I have traveled or resided.

I both admire and fear the United States, and pity many Americans.

The United States is the source of most advances in medicine and gadgetry that make life longer and more productive. The aspiration of creative Israelis is to develop something of value, polish it in the context of a start-up, and sell it for $100 million or more to an American company. We read about one of more of those just about every month.

The size and wealth of the United States has a lot to do with the discoveries and inventions. The structure of taxes and government outlays rewards investment and creativity. Yet they weigh heavily on all but those fortunate enough to have access to the best education and medicine. The students I have met on numerous campuses impress me as woefully unprepared for life. I pity adults who are not healthy, and do not enjoy unusual insurance. They suffer from medical opportunities both stingier and more difficult to comprehend than those in Israel and Europe.

Israel has, without a doubt, benefited from American patronage. Yet American adventures elsewhere in the Middle East have added to the dangers of Americans and the rest of us. I worry about American insistence in influencing the details of Israel's relations with its neighbors. The Secretary of State insists that Israel move a roadblock and avoid building an apartment block, while not chiding the Palestinians for their insistence in moving the clock back by 60 years.

A prospective Vice President says that she receives policy guidance from the Bible. As long as she reads the Bible as I would want her too, I can sleep well. But it is possible to find a variety of commandments in the Bible. I would prefer another way of making policy. While most Vice Presidents spend four years attending ceremonies, this Vice President, if elected, will be the backup of a President who shows signs of his age. Barak Obama has an impressive education, but not much experience. Some of his advisors are frightening in what they have expressed about Israel and Palestine.

Americans chide me for my comments. It is their country, and they will decide who rules.

That is only partly true. Outsiders may not vote, but given American inclinations to police the world and intervene where they will, residents of every country have a right to express themselves. Bill Clinton proposed drawing an international boundary 100 meters from my home. Condoleezza Rice has been insistent about areas that I see from my balcony. My neighbors in French Hill have as much right as residents of Hope, Arkansas, Birmingham, Alabama, or Wasilla, Alaska to comment on the choice of an American President and Vice President.

Most of all, I would like modest aspirations about remaking the Middle East and elsewhere. There is no sign of that in any of the candidates.


Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Home tel: 972-2-532-2725
Cell phone: 054-683-5325
Fax: 972-2-582-9144
msira@mscc.huji.ac.il

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 03:54 AM
September 05, 2008
Murder

Israel is not just about borders, human rights, terror, and religion. It is also a place where parents kill their children.

For the past week, the media has highlighted three murders of children of 4 or 5 years old. We have heard a criminologist and a psychologist talking about the danger of copycat killings, where parents frustrated by their child, or some other trouble, turn to murder.

A young Frenchman, learning that the man who fathered him as a result of a casual affair was an Israeli, decided to visit along with his wife Marie and child Rose. It was a mistake to bring Marie. She and Grandpa fell in love. There was a divorce. The father of Rose returned to France with her. The mother remained in Israel to produce two more children with Grandpa Ron. She pursued legal proceedings in France to obtain Rose. The child was a problem. Perhaps she was autistic. Reports are that Grandpa killed her, with some degree of participation by Marie. Ron's mother (Rose's great-grandmother) reported the child missing only a month or more after her disappearance. The police have been looking without results for her body.

Within a week of hearing this story, there were two other cases. In one a mother drowned her four year old boy at the beach, and in another a mother drowned her son of similar age in a bathtub.

Experts admit to a limited capacity to explain the cluster. Among the common traits in the most recent two cases are single mothers, both migrants from the former Soviet Union.

The Ministry of Immigration Absorption is adamant in refusing an explanation that immigrants are prone to violence. They also note the social services provided to immigrants in order to help in their adjustment. Yet reports of violence among youth or in families often come to us with names that are Russian or pictures that are Ethiopian.

Social scientists have known for a long time that the experience of migration adds considerable stress to families. A classic description of the pathologies is William Thomas and Florian Znaniecki, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (University of Chicago Press, 1918). My own migration was costly for the family, and I came as a tenured professor in the country's premier university. Almost all migrants come without the opportunities that I enjoyed for housing, employment and social contacts, as well as lacking language skills and a knowledge of the society.

Israel has profited immensely from the million or so Russian-speakers and the 40,000 or so Ethiopians who have come since the 1980s, as well as smaller numbers from Latin America, North America, France and the UK. The influence of the Russians is apparent whenever one goes to a concert, a hospital, or a clinic. Ethiopians came from a profoundly different background, but are now entering the officer corps of the military and the universities.

Russians and Ethiopians also appear frequently in the stories of violence and family tragedies.

With all its immigrants, and the extensive presence of pistols and machine guns in a society that considers itself threatened, Israel's incidence of violence is not high by international standards. One tabulation of recent homicides per 100,000 population includes the following examples.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_murder_rate

Venezuela: 65
South Africa: 39
United States: 5.7
Palestine: 4.0
Spain: 3.4
Switzerland: 2.9
Finland: 2.8
Israel: 2.6
Scotland: 2.6
Northern Ireland: 2.5
Canada 1.9
England and Wales: 1.4

Horrible cases have appeared in countries with generally low rates of violence. In the last year media emphasized the Austrian man who kept a daughter hidden as his sex slave for 24 years, and a German cannibal. Palestinians reported a case of two adults, retarded, kept in a cage in the cellar since childhood by a family who was ashamed of them.

Israel has numerous boarding schools, some set up years ago as orphanages for children from the Holocaust or other cases of persecution. Now they serve families who cannot cope with children at home, or children taken from their homes by social service agencies. Some of the youngsters come from overseas, sent by families who think that Israel would be good for them.

In response to the recent killings, professionals have urged family members, neighbors, kindergarten teachers, physicians and others to be alert to signs of trouble. We wonder if all us assigned to the task of big brother will add or detract from the quality of the society.

There have been several days without another report of a child killed in its family. We hope for many more.

Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Home tel: 972-2-532-2725
Cell phone: 054-683-5325
Fax: 972-2-582-9144
msira@mscc.huji.ac.il

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 01:02 AM
September 02, 2008
Family pictures

Family pictures featured in Democratic and Republican campaigns, and the great concern with the Palins, contrast mightily with the style of Israeli politics.

Tzipi Livni is the leading candidate to take over Ehud Olmert's position as prime minister. It was only last week, when I used Google to clarify when she was first appointed to a major position, that I learned there was a husband, Naftali Spitzer, and two children. Livni was appointed to head a government office in 1996, elected to the Knesset in 1999, and has held positions as minister heading one or another government department since 2001.

I have never seen a picture of her family.

Nor do I know anything about the families associated with Livni's competitors for Olmert's position (Shaul Mofaz, Avram Dicter, and Meir Shitrit).

Shimon Peres has held prominent appointed and elected positions for 56 years. I have lived here for 33 years, and doubt that I have seen a total of 10 media minutes devoted to his family. When selected as Israel's president last year, his wife decided not to move into the official residence in Jerusalem. She preferred to stay in the family apartment in Tel Aviv. That barely merited a minute of prime time.

There are some politicians who have chosen to highlight family members. Perhaps the effort was to see how the American emphasis would play here.

For the most part, it has not played well.

Ehud Barak's photogenic first wife appeared alongside of him on numerous occasions. Their divorce received little attention. Second wife also accompanies him at public occasions, and has cost him support. The attention has concerned her public relations company, said to have sold opportunities to meet with government people who would have some role in buying the goods or services of the companies shelling out the money. After a few days of attention, the second Mrs. Barak disbanded her company.

Benyamin Netanyahu emphasized his wife, Sarah, and their two children during his term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999. He may have suffered even more than Barak from the exposure. The media emphasized an extravagant life style, occasionally paid for in ways that appear improper. The police investigated, and there was a civil suit by a supplier who claimed that he was not paid. There were also stories about problems at home. The BBC reported that an employer with 30 years' service at the Prime Minister's house found herself under a barrage of shoes when Sarah did not like the way they had been cleaned. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/despatches/39056.stm

Benyamin seems to have kept his wife out of the public eye in his most recent roles as leader of the parliamentary opposition and occasional front runner as potential prime minister. Nonetheless, there have been uncomplimentary stories about the couple's overseas trips and plush hotels. Key aides have fallen out with Netanyahu and left his entourage. Reports are that they had problems working with Sarah, who insists on a role in political decisions.

Netanyahu's father, Benzion, remains active into his 90s, and had his own career as university professor and political activist. He has not appeared in the coverage devoted to the family. Speculation is that views to the right of even Benyamin have led him or his his son to keep their relationship out of the public eye.

Aliza Olmert is a writer and artist, and occasionally appears in the media hosting events at the prime minister's residence. Her politics, somewhat to the left of Ehud's, have garnered both praise and criticism. There has been praise for the tolerance of different paths chosen by husband and wife, and criticism by those who assert that Ehud's leftward drift reflects Aliza's influence.

Some will argue that detailed knowledge of politicians' families provides insight as to how they are likely to behave in the public sphere.

On the other hand, selecting a candidate to support is difficult enough without factoring in the beauty or activity of spouses, or the lives chosen by offspring or parents.

Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Home tel: 972-2-532-2725
Cell phone: 054-683-5325
Fax: 972-2-582-9144
msira@mscc.huji.ac.il

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 10:38 PM
September 01, 2008
Uncertainties

Perhaps no two democracies are so different in their size, wealth, government structures, and political cultures as the United States and Israel, but now their citizens are facing similar problems as they approach changes in key personnel.

Americans are dealing with two candidates having considerable experience (McCain and Biden), and two with virtually none (Obama and Palin). Trash masters can find a lot to ridicule in the statements and actions of McCain and Biden, and no end of gaps in those of Obama and Palin.

Israeli trash managers can paw through several decades of in the records of the leading candidates for heading the government after Ehud Olmert hangs up his expensive suits and puts away his prized fountain pens, and turns full time to his lawyers and the police. There are no Israeli equivalents of the novices contending for leading positions in American government.

The major similarities concern the serious nature of problems facing both countries, and the lack of certainty as to how each of the candidates will deal with them. Both McCain and Obama have spoken about the issues associated with the area from Iraq through Iran to Afghanistan. Yet no one can indicate what each would do after taking office, when the dynamics produce constant change in the composite of problems.

Iran will also trouble whoever occupies the central seat at Israel's government table, along with problems out of Syria, Lebanon, and the two Palestines. There are talks underway with Syria and Palestine of the West Bank. All the signs are that there will remain a great deal for the new government to do in both cases, as well as to keep the military prepared for whatever may develop in those places, as well as in Gaza, Lebanon, and Iran.

There is much lot to criticize in the collection of candidates of both countries. McCain's age and health raise questions not assuaged by a long history of presidential physicians evading the truth about their patients. One can hope that Obama and Palin are not as naive as we are led to believe. Those of us on the outside depending on American wisdom have good reasons to worry.

Unless there is a event dramatic enough to provoke a military response, Israel seems destined for several months of shuffling in place without a strong national leadership.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is poised to assume the leadership of the Kadima party in a primary later this month. She may not be able to create a new government, and the result would be a national election early in 2009. Until there is a new government in place, we may be saddled with Prime Minister Olmert, unless the attorney general decides that the police have produced enough evidence for an indictment, and he must leave office. Meanwhile, Olmert may be offering concessions to the Palestinians beyond what any of the candidates to replace him would accept. Wags are saying that he wants to garner more praise in the history books than in those of the police.

Tzipi Livni is not Barak Obama. She grew up with two politically active parents, and has held senior positions in government since 1996. For the past year she has been a key negotiator with the Palestinians. Occasionally she has indicated her reservations about what Olmert is offering, but she has not clarified what she would accept. When asked, she responds that the negotiations must remain out of the media in order to succeed.

Her most appealing quality is a reputation free of deals on the edge of legality, or over the edge, like those identified with Olmert and each of her principal rivals: Shaul Mofaz, Ehud Barak, and Benyamin Netanyahu.

She has a reputation for indecisiveness. The public has little basis of judging how she would react to a middle of the night telephone call about a crisis, requiring a quick response.

None of this is unusual for the politics of democratic societies. Voters have limited capacity to select the nominees of major parties. We often select the least undesirable candidate rather than anyone we can assume will solve the country's problems. Voters naive enough to think otherwise may not realize that the candidates themselves cannot indicate how they will respond to events not yet apparent, or how they will deal with advisors and other politicians who have their own interests.

We hope for the best, even if we have no reason to expect it.


Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Home tel: 972-2-532-2725
Cell phone: 054-683-5325
Fax: 972-2-582-9144
msira@mscc.huji.ac.il

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 06:04 AM