Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Sivan 5766 - June 21, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Politica: The Frequent Flyer

By E. Rauchberger

Ehud Olmert is known as a man who loves to fly. Many stories are told about his travels around the globe. In some instances only a few days or hours had passed since landing in Eretz Yisroel and he was already boarding another plane to conquer his next destination. One Jerusalem weekly even published a table comparing how many days he spent in Israel compared to how many days he spent abroad when he was in the Knesset, "Where's Olmert?" was a running joke among the MKs. Some say Olmert simply feels invigorated when he breathes the air of chutz la'aretz.

But the moment Sharon suffered his major stroke and Olmert stepped into his shoes, the former Jerusalem mayor's globetrotting days came to an abrupt end. Suddenly he found himself spending weeks and months on end here in Eretz Yisroel. Are we seeing a new Ehud Olmert? Has he lost his appetite for travel? Did the heavy burden of responsibility that fell on his shoulders dampen his love of jet planes and faraway places?

Olmert imposed the travel ban on himself. And everyone watched and waited to see how long it would last. Would the old Olmert be back with a revived yearning to sail the Seven Seas?

Olmert took Sharon's place for several months, during which he went through a taxing election campaign. Later he spent his time building a coalition and only then did he start making plans to lift the travel ban.

Olmert's first destination was the US. Several weeks ago he headed a sizable entourage, paying a state visit to President Bush. That trip broke the dry spell. Political figures predicted that Olmert had further journeys in mind, but did not foresee just how tight his travel plans would be.

Just days after returning from the US Olmert took a quick jaunt to Egypt to meet with President Hosni Mubarak. Fine, that was certainly a pressing diplomatic mission. How could an Israeli prime minister not pay a visit to the president of the large neighboring country next door?

But then, apparently fearing a diplomatic incident should the Hashemite Kingdom feel slighted, Olmert was "compelled" to travel to Jordan to chat with King Abdullah.

Upon returning to Israel it seemed this time the Prime Minister's entourage was back for more than just a quick stopover, when along came the trip to London and Paris.

Following were a blast on a Gaza beach that left seven Palestinians dead, and the Hamas and other organizations ended their cease-fire launching a massive volley of missiles on Southern Israel. Sderot began to resemble a war zone. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians continued for days.

But if somebody thought these incidents would be enough to ground the Prime Minister, he was sorely mistaken. Not even the harsh criticism lodged by the opposition was enough to induce him to alter his travel plans and away he went on his five-day mission in London and Paris.

Did this bring Olmert's series of trips to a close? Not for long. In less than three weeks Olmert is scheduled to set out for Germany. After all, following his visits in France and England, isn't it only natural that he make Germany his next destination?

The Wise Men of Chelm

This week a meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee to discuss the issue of youth violence brought to mind the story of the Wise Men of Chelm, who decided to confront the problem of a dangerous bridge by building a hospital in the gulch below rather than repairing the bridge.

During the first four months of 2006 the police opened 45 juvenile case files following acts of physical violence at youth entertainment spots, compared to 29 files during the same period last year. Committee members unabashedly said that parents are simply afraid to send let their children leave the house.

And what did the police have to say? The solution, they held, is to post more policemen at these locations, to restrict the hours of operation, to check those who come and go — and several other proposals of this sort. Not a single word about the total failure of the education system or the boredom among youth.

The MKs invariably displayed great creativity in the proposals they raised. But will anyone bring to the attention of the elected officials the simple fact the main problem lies in the way of life of today's youth? The contents introduced into their lives? The emptiness and lack of values? The loss of even fundamental Jewish values?

Unfortunately, until the State of Israel wakes up to the need for traditional Jewish education and addresses the root of the problem, we fear that these stories of teen violence and crime are here to stay.

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