The witch hunt mentality never dies, and secular Jews have launched a witch hunt against Olmert. I don’t include only the atheist Jews among the secular, but also the quasi-religious who evicted their God from real life into the synagogues.

Just what is Olmert accused of in the current criminal investigation? One, accepting cash campaign contributions. Every political group in Israel acts similarly. Ever wondered how much it cost to have Russian-Israeli journalists become excited about Lieberman during his election campaign? About $40,000 a head.

Two, asking Jewish billionaire Adelson to hear out Talansky’s business proposal. Adelson didn’t heed Olmert’s request, and at any rate such a promotion is common business for politicians and official rabbis alike. Olmert’s request to Adelson was unrelated to his duties in the government. Olmert possibly made a similar request on Talansky’s behalf to an Israeli diplomat in Latin America, again to no avail and to harm to Israel. In a country with rampant nepotism, political appointments, and kickback payments, Olmert’s behavior is even morally innocent.

Three, accepting and possibly soliciting money for personal travel expenses. Every politician and rabbi does likewise. Months ago, Netanyahu was accused of the same “crime” while in London during the 2006 Lebanon war. If anything, it is good that Olmert needed a bizarre Jewish philanthropist like Talansky to pay his hotel expenses. Barak, Netanyahu, and Lieberman “earned” enough to pay for their air tickets and hotels themselves. Unlike Olmert’s innocent calls on Talansky’s behalf, they truly made money off the Jewish state. They used their connections in the Israeli government and foreign connections acquired while in the government’s service to enrich themselves.

Yes, Olmert traveled first-class and stayed at expensive hotels. Do you really expect an Israeli minister to travel economy class? Any country’s minister? Tzipi Livni is flying by private plane. Gone are the days when Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Menahem Begin lived in simple apartments. Even in their days most officials enjoyed relative luxury. If you want a saintly figure at the helm I can suggest a few, but they are not electable.

What’s so bad about Olmert? Don’t forget that as a young MK he voted against Begin and Sharon’s giveaway of the Sinai. As prime minister, Olmert launched the second Lebanon war upon the first pretext, which greatly damaged Hezbollah. The war has been mishandled? If so, then it was by the IDF Staff, not by Olmert. He authorized continuous strikes at Gaza. Would a full-scale invasion with pitched urban battles have been better? Should the IDF re-occupy Gaza and police that hostile territory, with Jewish soldiers open to ambushes and suicide bombers day and night?

Everyone screams of forcing Olmert to step down and replacing him… with whom? Even the venerable Shamir and Begin were forced to make sweeping concessions, such as the Madrid Conference and the Camp David giveaway of Sinai. Who can succeed Olmert? Mofaz and Livni have professed their desire for a two-state solution and their intent to pursue the suicidal peace process. Tzipi’s only electoral advantage is that common Israelis know nothing about her—and therefore she is the only candidate of whom nothing bad is known.

Barak had already campaigned as Mr. Tough, and indeed he refused talks with Arafat initially, but changed his mind once the Intifada weakened his domestic support. Desperately needing Arab and ultra-left support, he agreed to abandon even Jerusalem to the PLO. Unless, of course, we believe that he cheated the ultra-left and only agreed to concessions after secretly arranging for Arafat’s eventual refusal.

Netanyahu reneged on his promise to denounce the Oslo Accords, though he currently claims to have fulfilled his electoral guarantees by not implementing the accords due to Palestinian non-cooperation. But is it okay to abandon Judea to cooperative Palestinians? He abandoned Hebron, and there is no doubt he will similarly abandon Jerusalem. If Shamir and Begin were unable to withstand the combined American-leftist pressure, Netanyahu would surely give way.

There are a handful of honest non-electables, including Ariel Eldad, Baruch Marzel, and Moshe Feiglin. They can get a few seats, but never form a coalition government. Of course we should vote for them; we need them in the Knesset as gadflies. Netanyahu doesn’t need your vote to win the elections, but your vote may be critical for Eldad and Marzel. As long as Netanyahu follows through on his promises not to give up Jerusalem and the Golan Heights (what about Judea?), Eldad and Marzel will support him—so your votes will work.

No electable politician has the guts to flatly renounce Israel’s capitulation to the Palestinian enemy. Short of such a great leader, Olmert’s tactic of pulling wool over the leftists’ eyes is the next-best approach. Promise all that they want to hear, give them nothing, drag out the negotiations. Politics is the art of the realistic.