A Prime Minister, a President and an Interior Minister Walk into a Jail Cell

– By Batsheva Haber

It sounds like a joke. And that’s exactly how our country is beginning to seem, like a joke.

AImaget least that’s what I first thought when I read this morning’s news about how Ehud Olmert was convicted of taking bribes. Another Israeli official fallen to corruption, and this time a former prime minister, no less. The Israeli government, our elected officials, the people representing us to both our people and the entire world, keep shaming us with their crimes.

In despair, I read through article after article. What an embarrassment?! What a shame?! How can our prime-minister be convicted like your average criminal?!

That’s when it hit me. Our prime-minister was convicted like your average criminal.

I think of many of the other countries in the world today. Countries where government officials taking bribes is part of the regulations, and where it is expected from the leaders to abuse their power to get what they desire. Countries where anyone who speaks against the leader is writing his own death sentence, and where being in power means that you are immune. Countries where the leaders would never be questioned or indicted, let alone convicted!

Suddenly despite the shame in what my former leader did, I was filled with pride. How easy would it have been for Israel to clear Olmert’s name, or even to just dismiss the case for lack of evidence. It sure would have saved our country a lot of embarrassment.

But instead, our justice system decided to continue to fight for the truth, to fight for righteousness, to fight for my rights as an Israeli citizen. Although I am hurt and horrified at our leaders who abused their power and took advantage of their positions, I am proud of our system that will not stand for it.

In a world where too often power = righteousness, let us not fail to recognize the incredible meaning of today’s event’s.

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How the US Does Business

-By Batsheva Haber

“Hi! So you want to do business with me? No, you don’t? Well, let’s do business anyways! No, really, I want to do business with you!! Please??? Here, I’ll give you all this free stuff! Plus, I’ll halt my companies’ progress for you! Still not enough? Here’s some more free stuff! Don’t worry, there is no obligation on your part! You don’t have to do anything!! You will not have to meet any demands! Just except my gifts, no strings attached, I swear! Really, I just want to do business with you!! Here, take some more free stuff! And you know what, you don’t even have to recognize my company!”

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This is what it would look like if the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was a business transaction run by the United States. Shall we take a look back? So far Israel has released tens of Palestinian prisoners – some of which were cold blooded murderers, froze the development in Israeli settlements multiple times, and agreed to major concessions in future negotiations. In return the Palestinians have- oh wait, they have done nothing but refuse to negotiate.

But all this red carpet treatment is not enough for our friends in The West. Two days ago Official Spokesperson for the United States Department of State Jen Psaki, said that it was not necessary for the PA to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. Her claim was that there is no need for recognition of Israel, because a negotiation is about settling the issues on which the sides differ. Therefore “It’s not about demands,” and although the US sees Israel as a Jewish state, “that doesn’t reflect, of course, what the parties are going to agree to.”

Despite the fact that the negotiations are “not about demands,” Israel is under constant pressure from the US to concede to the Palestinian ones. On the other hand, when it comes to the one demand Israel put on the table – recognition of their right to exist – the Palestinians have no obligations whatsoever.

This is not a case to instate the American policy “the customer is always right”! Not when we are gambling with peoples’ lives!

Let me tell you how we do business in Israel. In Israel we acknowledge that in a good business transaction both sides need something from the other, and both are mutually benefited from the agreement. “Demands” are the foundation of any good business or negotiations. It’s all about what I have that you want, and what you have that I want.

Apparently what every kindergartener knows has somewhat been lost on the leaders of the free world. Business is a back and forth process, where each side decides what they are willing to give up on and what they are not. Negotiations require sacrifices on both sides, under the mutual understanding of benefits for all parties.

If one side is always the one making the concessions, and the other always benefiting without any obligations, it is not a business transaction, it is extortion.