Jan 25, 2007

The Presidency

I have a number of points to make regarding the situation with President Katzav:

1. President Moshe Katzav must resign.

Saying the above does not mean I presume him to be guilty. He has the right and the responsibility to defend himself and prove his innocence. I hope that he did not do what he is accused of, simply because of the disgrace it would be if it is found out to be true. But if he is guilty, it will be proven in court with him having an opportunity to defend and he will then suffer the consequences.

Regardless of whether he is innocent or guilty he needs to resign from the presidency. He needs to and will concentrate the immediate future to defending himself in a court of law and in the court of the minds of the Israeli and world public. Being that he will be busy doing so, he should not be sitting in the seat of the Presidency. Israel needs a president who can dedicate his time and energies to the job. Moshe Katzav will not be able to do so.

That is aside from the disgrace this has brought to Israel and the presidency. For this, too, he should resign.

2. PM Olmert called on Katzav to resign. He declared in no uncertain terms, "In these circumstances there is no doubt in my heart that the president cannot continue to fulfill his role and must leave the President's Residence,".

Talk about calling the kettle black! The President has not yet been indicted. His situation is not that different from the one in which Olmert himself is found, other than the crimes under discussion and the stage of the investigation. Katzav's investigation is nearer the end with recommendations having been made, while Olmert's is only close to that point.

Olmert would do well to not stick his foot in his mouth and put himself in a precarious position later. When any of the investigations come to the point where they recommend he be indicted, will Olmert follow his own advice and resign? I would hope so but nothing indicates that he will. His style until now has been to publicly ignore all things going on in those regards and simply spin things to distract the people.

His bold statement yesterday will probably come back to bite him in the tush when his time comes and he refuses to step down.

3. The race to replace Katzav has (more) officially begun. The candidates are lining up. They include Shimon Peres, Collete Avital, Dalia Itzik, Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin and possibly Rabbi YM Lau.

My position on this is that the President needs to be elected by the people, not by the current system of the Members of Knesset voting. Voting open only to MK means they are subject to political pressures, coalition pressures, personal relationship pressures and the like and only we, the people, lose out because the limited number of voters do not have the courage to vote for the best candidate.

Another position I have on this is that the candidates need to be taken from the general public. People who have contributed to society in various realms. Not politicians, and for sure not currently active politicians.

This would mean the only candidate I would support in the above list of front runners would be Rabbi Lau. I think Rabbi Lau is a wonderful and inspiring person and he is deserving of the Presidency and would bring back honor to Israel if he filled the position. That being said, I would like to see more candidates from the general public - accomplished scientists, professors, mathematicians, men of spirit, etc. who would challenge Rabbi Lau for the spot. I do not know that Rabbi Lau is the best man for the job, but in the list of candidates above I consider him the only worthy one.

Another position I have on the elections for president is that the ballot remain secret. if we are already limiting the voting to 120 MKs who are subject to political pressures and other pressures, at least the voting should remain secret and closed ballot, so at least to keep the slightest vestige of honest voting and not one big political deal and maneuver shafting the rest of the country.
Which leads us to....

PM Olmert and the Kadima Party is going to be pushing perennial candidate Shimon Peres as its candidate for the presidency. Supporters for Shimon Peres are pushing to change the voting system to an open ballot. They fear that the only way Peres can win is by open ballot, where pressure will force a majority of the 120 voters to vote for him. They are probably right, which is the greatest example of why the voting must remain closed. Not to ensure Peres does not get elected. Rather, to ensure that the limited 120 voters get to vote for who they think is best, not just the candidate who can put the most pressure on them. If in a closed ballot they vote for Shimon, that is fine.

Of all Olmert's mistakes, this one might be his biggest. His pushing Peres as the candidate, if Peres wins, is definitely a major mistake. The president is an honorary position in Israel. The president is not meant to discuss or get involved in politics. He is meant o be dignified and develop relations around the world and represent Israel to the world.

Shimon Peres would be great at that. He is dignified. He is respected. He is probably more or less clean from the various criminal activities plaguing Israeli politicians nowadays. However, Shimon Peres is a man of action, not a man fitting for an honorary position. He would immediately make the presidency one from which he pushes whatever political agenda he has on his mind at the time.

Peres is famous for his backstabbing and political maneuvers, and he would use the presidency for the same goals he has used politics for until now. Why would a man like Peres want this position anyway? He cannot get involved in the peace process, his baby, and other national interests from the Presidents Mansion. It is not in the job description.
The only reason is because he wants it in order to further his goals and ideals. he wants to use the power of the presidency to push his agenda in the political sphere.

Ehud Olmert should beware of Shimon Peres and not be so eager to push him into the presidency. the first person to be back stabbed by Peres will be Olmert.


  1. Great analysis.

    ...the first person to be back stabbed by Peres will be Olmert.

    Judging by his approval ratings, I think that would be a positive in most people's eyes.

  2. that is true, almost. Even though people do not like Olmert, they never liked Peres' ideas either (the reason why he never won an election).

    I was just saying though that Olmert, from his own perspective is making a serious mistake pushing Peres for this position.

  3. I don't know what Katzav did or didn't with the women, but we do know that Olmert, the Sharons, and many more politicians have broken laws. Corruption is rife.

    But the only two who've had their careers destroyed have been Ramon and Katzav, who may have had taken "liberties" with the ladies, but they're not stealing or or playing money tricks. Both of them have been considered political threats to the "powers."

  4. Why am I not surprised that you support Lau for president?
    Your assertion that the presidential candidates cannot be politicians would exclude him too; as he was a political appointee to a position of socio-religious power.

    Okay, I've dropped my two Agurot in the pushka; y'all can go back to discussing the drama regarding lying, fork-tongued vermin in expensive suits

  5. sholom - you misunderstood me - I said I support Lau because in the current list of candidates he is the only non-politician. And even though he served as Chief Rabbi and serves as Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, he is still not a politician.

    If a new list of candidates would be made up tyhat would include other non-politiians, chances are high I would not support Rabbi Lau. While I think he is a person who unifies and brings love and openness to all, I do not think Israel is ripe for a man of the cloth in the presidency. I am not convinced that is a good fit.

    But in the current lineup of candidates I support him.

    muse - the fact is it looks very bad for him. Who knows what he really did? he should be presumed innocent and he will be going to court to prove his innocence. Many have been investigated and even indicted and then found innocent.
    But in the meantime he shoul dnot be in the seat of the President./ He needs to focus on defending himself.

  6. "so at least to keep the slightest vestige of honest voting and not one big political deal and maneuver shafting the rest of the country."

    isn't this the reason the voting should be open? deals will be made in any case, but be able to surmise who made the deals with an open ballot.

  7. ari - that is an issue, and those in favor of the open ballot are so for that reason. I personally think the closed ballot is better for people being able to vote their conscience.

    Regardless of who is right, the current maneuvering to change the vote right now for the imminent elections just so one specific candidate will have a better chance is purely corrupt and manipulative.

    If it is to be changed it should be only for future electoral campaigns, not current ones.


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