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You Think President Bush is Unpopular?:

Prime Minister Olmert of Israel was reported yesterday to have a 3% (not a typo!) approval rating, and that was before the release of an official report today concluding that Olmert was guilty of "serious failure" in his conduct of last Summer's war in Lebanon. What's especially remarkable about Olmert's low approval rating is that Israel's economy is absolutely booming. If Olmert had any decency, he'd resign.

great unknown (mail):
If Omert had any decency, he would never have made it so far in the Israeli political system.
4.30.2007 2:07pm
Yankev (mail):
If Olmert had any decency, the Jews he expelled from Gaza would have received the compensation he promised them for confiscating land they bought, homes they built and businesses they developed, and for their belongings that were ruined after the state stored them inadequately. Not to mention for the time they have spent in temporary quarters, the disruption of families, depression, and resulting disintegration of marriages that resulted from Olmert's failed policy.

Yeah. IF Olmert had any decency. And if my bubbie had certain attributes, she'd be my zaidey.
4.30.2007 2:13pm
lee (mail):
Maybe if the Jews who "settled" in Gaza had any smarts they would have realized that wasn't too smart!
4.30.2007 2:21pm
EH:
Olmert is Bush's canary in the coal mine. How do you retain power when a significant portion of a democracy does not approve of you? Watch and see!
4.30.2007 2:35pm
Oren (mail):
It was Sharon's plan that the settlers be evacuated from Gaza - if you are going to hurl insults over it, at least insult the right guy!
4.30.2007 2:44pm
James968 (mail):
If Omert had any decency, he would never have made it so far in the Israeli political system.


Somehow I think not having decency is responsible for Politicians Success, not the other way around.
4.30.2007 3:08pm
Jay Reding (www):
Olmert's a dead man walking -- there'll be a no-confidence vote in short order. The big question is who takes his place -- if Livni can keep the Kadima coalition together then she moves up to PM. If not, Netanyahu takes power.

I hope Livni can pull it off, but I'm not hopeful. Bibi is right on a lot of issues, but disengagement is the only rational way of insuring Israeli security. I fear that Netanyahu would overstretch Israel's military and give the warring Palestinian factions something to fight other than each other. Let the Palestinians fight it out, and hope that cooler heads prevail -- then there can be a peace process.

Sadly, it seems that Kadima is as much on life support as Sharon is -- and I'm not sure that the long-term prognosis is much different between the two. Both are a tragedy for Israel.
4.30.2007 3:23pm
Hattio (mail):
Professor Bernstein,
So are you on record as saying that when a politician's numbers hit some magic number they should resign? Cheney was at 13% at one point if I recall correctly. Should he have resigned? Please, let me know the number at which you think Bush should resign, and I will do my best to get him here. I would assume this doesn't only apply to leaders you disapprove of, right?
4.30.2007 3:25pm
Christopher M (mail):
Tell you what, we'll make a deal: all current Presidents, of whatever country (ahem), who preside over massively mishandled, unwise wars and consequently suffer prolonged deep unpopularity should have the decency to resign.
4.30.2007 3:26pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Hat, I think at 3% any political should resign, at least if it's more than a momentary blip. However, Israel is a parliamentary democracy and thus has a different system than we do, and the analogy is therefore not exact. Be that as it may, I don't recall ever expressing an opinion one way or another regarding Cheney.
4.30.2007 3:40pm
Yankev (mail):

Maybe if the Jews who "settled" in Gaza had any smarts they would have realized that wasn't too smart!

I have read accounts from several, but spoken to only two. They settled there in the late 1960s. The couple I spoke to bought land in the middle of nowhere. When they took possession, they were welcomed with gifts of food from the headmen of the two nearest Arab villages, who told them that in the Muslim tradition, the land they had bought had been part of the tribe of Dan. The headmen also told them that if the Jews were going to be creating jobs, the local populace would be very grateful, as the area was very poor.

They did create jobs, bringing in irrigation, raising high quality flowers and vegetables, and employing quite a number of local Arabs who had had no income before they came. The first intifada, in the late 1980s, radicalized the younger Arabs in the area. Even so, the "settlements" still offered the best hope for the local economy and for any kind of Jewish-Arab cooperation. Oslo and the second intifada made things worse. I guess that 40 years ago they should have had your smug prescience, so they would not have wasted 40 years of their lives trying to build the land and improve the lot of Jew and Arab alike.
4.30.2007 3:43pm
The Shadow:

Cheney was at 13% at one point if I recall correctly.


You recall incorrectly. Cheney's approval rating has never been less than 30%. See here.
4.30.2007 4:02pm
JB:
Oren: Sharon made them leave for compensation, which is good. Olmert screwed them of their compensation, which is bad. Blame where blame is due.
4.30.2007 4:24pm
Student of Objectivism (www):
Olmert should also be considered a traitor by Westerners for emboldening the Islamists and allowing Israelis to be kidnapped and murdered.
4.30.2007 4:52pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Cheney's approval rating has never been less than 30%.

Yeah, I saw that claim re: Reid's snark, but I recall Cheney's polling well under the crazification factor.

Maybe the problem is the specific poll. Approval ratings seem to be higher than favorability ratings. CBS has recorded Cheney's *favorability* at 19% (back in Nov. 2005).

So I think that what people remember later is "Cheney polled at 19%," not whether that was "favorability" or "job approval" or whatever.
4.30.2007 5:18pm
Lior:
Re: economic boom


As you'd expect, in Israel the political question (a.k.a. "The Arab-Israeli Conflict") is the cardinal question of the political system. Sadly, we haven't reach the stage where economic and social considerations can have too much of an effect. Corrupt dealings are still negatively viewed, thankfully.



Re: resignation


In Israel, the Knesset (which is elected and therefore directly responsible to the public) can fire the prime minister if it chooses. If most members of parliament believe Olmert is a better choice than likely replacements (one Benjamin Netanyahu is the front-runner) they should keep him in office. If the public disagrees, they can vote these MKs out of office. Going back to the main political consideration, I would side with keeping Olmert in power.
4.30.2007 5:45pm
mike (mail):
The bench of Isreali PM's is not very deep. They seem to recycle the same bunch over and over.

Isn't there someone better?
4.30.2007 8:12pm
Michael B (mail):
Olmert, Sharon before him, in large measure are being brow beaten by the E.U., U.N. and likeminded "communities." They might be blamed still (Olmert was still committing to even further withdrawal, even "total" withdrawal from the West Bank, after the recent summer war), but it's within that configuration of misbegotten, Western public opinion and various pressures from trans-nationalist orgs, pressure from the U.S. as well, that they withdrew from Gaza. The Gazan withdrawal can still be argued as productive, in the long run and as seen from a broader perspective, but that withdrawal, as with the withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the withdrawal from northern Samaria, all produced greater terrorist initiatives, incentives and bravado, not fewer.

Not in a single instance did it produce "land for peace," reminiscent of UNSCR 242 and similar formulations. Not in a lone, single, solitary instance. Nada.
4.30.2007 8:47pm
Tex:
Say, does that report say anything about the need of American commentators to apologize for encouraging such a foolish war as a result of their over-zealous and blind support of any military action ever taken by the Israeli state?
5.1.2007 5:19pm
Michael B (mail):
Ten page english lang. press release/summary of the report (click top link).
5.2.2007 10:44am
Adam R (mail):
Unfortunately, disengagement is not a way of ensuring Israel's security at all. Sharon and Olmert have collectively guaranteed us another war. Religious Muslims see any setback for Israel as proof that Israel is weak and about to be defeated. They see disengagement as a victory for the Islamic resistance and the Second Lebanon War as a military defeat for Israel and a victory for "God's party." They convince themselves that Israel only understands force, thus justifying to themselves using more force against Israel. Syria now thinks that it can defeat Israel militarily with Hezbollah-like tactics. Maybe if Israel scores a decisive enough victory in the next war, but it would have been better to have avoided it in the first place.
5.2.2007 4:52pm