Even venerable Yitzhak Shamir, the former leader of LEHI, finally succumbed to leftist and foreign pressure and accepted Palestinian autonomy, a first step toward their independence. Menahem Begin, a no less distinguished former leader of ETZEL, was brought down by Carter’s pressure, and gave away the Sinai. No wonder Rabin the empty man was manipulated into the Oslo agreements, Netanyahu the business consultant abandoned the holy city of Hebron to Muslims, and bulldozer-brained Sharon traded Gaza for a safety net against criminal prosecution of his family. Not even to mention Barak, another fake “Mr. Security,” who made Hezbollah secure rather than Haifa.

Compared to these characters, Olmert stands very well. Starting with his principled opposition to Begin and Sharon’s giveaway of Sinai decades ago to the cat-and-mouse game with Abbas, Olmert has given nothing to the enemy. Everything seems to be agreed upon with Fatah, but Palestinian statehood is not advancing. Those who blame the 2006 Lebanon war on Olmert would do well to advance an alternative. Should we have expected Olmert to improve the army during his two months as prime minister? Should he have invaded Lebanon again after the eighteen-year-long occupation proved strategically futile? Should he have scorched Lebanon with napalm to get rid of all bearded Arabs? Olmert had the courage to strike at Lebanon upon the first provocation.

Olmert is very brainy. Everyone wants him to invade Gaza, but what’s the next step? If the IDF kills even a couple of thousand Arab militants and withdraws, many more will volunteer immediately, because the IDF withdrawal would be seen as a Hamas victory. If the IDF stays in Gaza, international law kicks in, and Israel will have to take care of the occupied territory’s population. There are two dead in Sderot, but hundreds of Israeli soldiers might die in urban combat in Gaza. As the Palestinian guerrillas acquire Grad-types weapons capable of hitting Ashkelon, Olmert might have no choice but to order a punitive expedition and pacify Gaza for a year or two, like the IDF pacified Lebanon. There is just no clear-cut solution to guerrilla warfare, short of measures which would look unacceptably cruel on CNN.

The left are greatly dissatisfied with Olmert and seek to topple him. So far, he had not succumbed to Rice-the-Black-Plague’s pressure or the threats of criminal indictment on fake charges. Conducting an honest, straightforward policy requires otherworldly moral strength; real politics is the art of maneuvering. Olmert is not a political bulldozer, but a master politician. His ways are not straight, but they do not lead to capitulation. This is as good as it gets with Israel’s politicians.