Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Family ties don't bind Olmerts politically

Wow! I can't imagine being the father in this family. Newsday has the gossip.

"There, I am a minority of one," Ehud Olmert has often joked. The leader of the centrist Kadima party is viewed among Israelis as a hawk. But his wife and their four children are firmly rooted in Israel's far left.

"It would be the equivalent of George W. Bush running for election with a family full of communists," explains Efraim Inbar, a political science professor at Jerusalem's Bar Ilan University.

Olmert's wife, Aliza, is a well-known artist and screenwriter. She supports Peace Now, a group that fiercely opposes Israel's security barrier and Kadima's plans to complete it. It also promotes the division of Jerusalem for a Palestinian state and Israel's withdrawal to its 1967 borders.

The Olmerts' daughter Danna is a university lecturer of literature and a self-professed lesbian who lives openly with her partner in Tel Aviv. She is a member of Machsom Watch, a group of Israeli women who monitor checkpoints for human rights abuses and often confront Israeli soldiers on behalf of Palestinians. Her older sister, Michal, holds a master's degree in psychology and runs creative thinking workshops. Married, she lives in Tel Aviv and is known to share her siblings' leftist political leanings, but is not as outspoken.

The Olmerts' son Shaul completed his military service, signed a petition of Yesh G'vul, a group of Israeli Defense Force soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories, and now lives in New York.

Their younger son, Ariel, dodged military service altogether and is studying French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. Both sons have retained their Israeli citizenship and are eligible to vote.
Read it all

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