The price of populism
By Nehemiah Shtrasler

Sometimes it happens that a person who tries to be a big populist becomes the biggest villain of all. This is exactly what has happened to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the affair of the Holocaust survivors.

He tried to be good to everyone. Instead of dealing with real Holocaust survivors – from the death camps, the ghettoes, the forests and the hiding places – who have found themselves in a difficult economic situation that does not allow them to live with dignity and receive decent medical care, he tried to give everyone a handout.

The prime minister tried to win points from the largest possible audience of voters, and thus expanded the definition of “Holocaust survivors,” including in it thousands of “hitchhikers.” Because the number swelled and the budget is limited, Olmert produced an absurd result. He has affixed a price tag to the Holocaust, which pegs the terrible suffering that survivors experienced as being worth NIS 83 a month. Is there any wonder that there arose such a huge public outcry?

This is the fate of a populist who does not have the courage to tell the public the truth, and who looks for a solution that will satisfy everyone.