Olmert and Friends
I can’t say I ever liked Ehud Olmert. But now I almost feel sorry for him. It isn’t pleasant the way he is being pounced on. The stories about envelopes stuffed with cash, cigars and luxury suites in posh hotels are good for gossip, but Olmert’s behaviour is no different from that of Binjamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak. Netanyahu lived like a king in expensive hotels paid for by donors who, of course, asked for nothing in return. As for Barak, after decades as an army officer with a middling salary and a few years as a cabinet minister on a similar income, he disappeared from public view for a while to reappear a rich man with an apartment in one of the most expensive buildings in Tel Aviv. How do you get so rich in such a short time? Could it be by using connections acquired in the service of the state? Olmert was a very junior politician, just out of law school, when he started to get rich thanks to the relationships with heads of government departments he established as a parliamentary aide.
The full text of this essay is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.