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Nasrallah for PM -- of Israel By: Bradley Burston
Ha'aretz.com | Thursday, August 31, 2006


Now it's official. Israel is a country without a prime minister.

This had been no more than an educated suspicion until Monday night, when Ehud Olmert effectively made the announcement. Not in so many words, of course. Instead, in a long-awaited television address to the nation, Olmert took Israel's last remaining expectations of him and kicking them in the teeth, by ducking a full-out probe into his handling of the war.

If nature abhors a vacuum, imagine how it feels at this point about Israel's senior leadership.

The titular head of state, our model for probity, is looking down the barrel of rape charges. The army chief of staff, our model for dedication and sacrifice, took a break for a bit of financial planning just as the nation's leaders were deciding whether the military was ready, plans, supplies, training and all, to go to war.

The justice minister might have helped Olmert this week, had he not resigned over suspicions that he forced a French kiss on an unwilling young woman soldier.

And then there is Olmert himself, the man who acted as prime minister from January 4, when Ariel Sharon suffered a devastating stroke, until July 12, when Olmert suffered a debilitating, evidently permanent lapse of responsibility.

After nearly six decades of existence, Israel has found itself a practical experiment in Anarcho-Zionism. Unlike its neighbor the Palestinian Authority, which is a government lacking an independent state (and a number of officials jailed by Israel), Israel has become an independent state lacking a government.

Israel is now run not by its leaders, but despite them. The IDF, by default, has once again become an Army of the People. It is now run by the estimable junior officers and the experienced, motivated soldiers at the company, battalion, and, at most, brigade levels. It is supplied by donations from pharmacies, supermarkets, and private individuals, who also set up Israel's refugee camps and shelters for people displaced by war in the north.

The only country in the world whose capital is now universally unrecognized as such, Israel has also become the only country which no longer recognizes its own government. The upside: It is no longer lonely at the top, because there is no one left.

So it is only right and proper that Israelis have begun to think about a replacement. We have exhumed Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, but polls show them to be non-starters. In an effort to think outside the box, we have mooted Avishai Braverman and a host of others, many of them impressive, none of them proven.

At this point in Olmert's career, about the only thing that could save Olmert's head, is that of Hassan Nasrallah.

Maybe that's our answer. If assassinating or abducting the Hezbollah leader is still on the agenda, as Israeli officials maintain, why not put Nasrallah to useful purpose?

Look at the issues. Consider his record. Here is a man who is both strong and wise on security issues. He saw to it that his troops were well-prepared, well-trained, well-supplied, and and well-protected.

Nasrallah would be a new sort of Israeli leader. One who gets things done.

Here is a man who addresses social welfare needs head-on. He doesn't wait to help home-owners rebuild residences destroyed by aerial attacks. He hands out literal lump-sums, immediately, in cash.

Here is a man who delivers medical care to the needy, affordable housing to the homeless, food and even clothing to society's disadvantaged.

Here is a man who cares deeply about, and puts major emphasis on, education and youth [even if the message is one of incitement, hatred, and anti-Semitism].

Moreover, as he proved this week in admitting to having miscalculated the Israeli response in Lebanon, Nasrallah, as opposed to, say, Olmert, is a leader who, when he's made an error in judgment, can openly admit to it.

For more than 20 years, Israeli prime ministers have come to office pledging to be leaders for all the people, only to exacerbate existing divides and create new ones.

Why not tap the one leader who has managed to unite the Israeli people as has no prime minister in memory?

It goes beyond the war itself. Only Nasrallah succeeded in putting an end to what has been the central rift in Israeli society for the past four decades: He has effectively stilled the arguments for and against the concept of land-for-peace.

Nobody's about to give up anything now. Certainly not in the one place everyone cares about, the West Bank.

The right and the left are closer than they have been at any time since June, 1967. The right, having already lost Gaza, has seen its Greater Israel dream shattered. The left, having been rocketed by Hamas, the Jihad, and Hezbollah, has seen its bedrock ideology - End War by Ending Occupation - reduced to rubble.

Finally, here is a leader who carries no moral baggage. The world expects nothing of him morally, so there is the merest of outcry when he attacks civilian targets.

Nasrallah has a proven record.

What do our present leaders have to show for theirs?

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