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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Olmert Convicted, Teflon Finally Off

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has finally been convicted of corruption. Olmert, a brilliant politician and master at manipulation and charm had seemed too clever to catch for a very long time.
With a thundering ruling that will shake the country, Judge David Rozen also convicted former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, former Bank Hapoalim Chairman Dan Dankner, Olmert's former chief-of-staff Shula Zaken and, in total, 10 out of 13 individual defendants (3 defendants are corporations.)
...In the Holyland trial,  Olmert was accused of accepting over NIS 1.5 million in bribes (out of around NIS 9 million given to public officials in total), either directly or through Zaken or his brother Yossi to smooth over various legal and zoning obstacles. The allegations relate to the 1993-mid 2000s period while Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and Minister of Infrastructure, Trade and Industry. (Jerusalem Post)
The Pied Piper of Israeli politics took along a lot of people with him.

Ehud Olmert's conviction was a surprise, and that's not because the Israeli public didn't suspect that the charges were true. It was a surprise, because he earned the loyalty and support of his staff by his hard work, friendliness and those "small touches," which could be found in American "how to succeed" books. I know this from people who have worked with him over the years. When he was Mayor of Jerusalem, he made a point of speaking to the municipal employees and giving them the impressionism that he cared about them and their jobs. He worked late hours, not just delegating and showing up for photo-ops.

When the law changed, and he couldn't simultaneously serve as MK and Mayor, he had his staff write thank-you notes to all Knesset employees from librarians to toilet cleaners. He was always available to the various staff people, even when Prime Minister and then forced to resign due to the corruption charges, to pose for pictures with them. Even during this long trying trial, he was amazingly friendly and interested in the lives of those assigned to his detail. As former Prime Minister, the government still provided him with a staff.

For those who couldn't understand why it took his long-time secretary, Shula Zakin, so long to agree to testify against Olmert, you have to understand how this behavior to others created strong loyalty.  It wasn't until Zakin finally realized that Olmert was not returning this loyalty that she made her deal with the prosecution. No doubt that if she had done it in the earlier stages of the investigation, she would have gotten a much lighter sentence.

In the political world à la Olmert, people took for granted that his way was the way it was done, and that's how so many are involved and convicted. No doubt there should be more.

1 comment:

Tzivia in AliyahLand said...

Thanks for sharing! Your post has been included in Haveil Havalim: a weekly roundup of what’s best from the Jewish / Israeli blog world.