In his soon-to-be-released autobiography, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revealed that during his term in office, a Haredi (Ultra-Orthdox) Kabbalist (mystic) warned him of an imminent attack by Hezbollah against an Israeli missile boat during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Olmert wrote in his book that on the first Friday of the war, Eli Yishai, former Chairman of the Sephardic religious party, Shas, demanded to see him. The request was extraordinary since it came just before the Sabbath, and Yishai, an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, does not travel on the Sabbath as per Jewish law.
“Aliza (Olmert’s wife) was waiting for me with the children and grandchildren in our Tel Aviv apartment for a family Shabbat dinner. Before I left, the secretary told me that Eli Yishai wanted to speak to me urgently. Shabbat was approaching, and he could not wait any longer. ”
“Eli came into my office. He had something strange to tell me, he said, and he felt obliged to do so. He normally consulted with a certain rabbi about sensitive personal matters and the rabbi advised him on how to act,” Olmert continued.
“[On that day] the rabbi called and said that there was a danger that an Israeli ship would be hit this evening and suggested that Yishai give the information to the appropriate elements in the army.”
“I asked who the rabbi was,” continued Olmert. “Yishai said that the rabbi forbade him from revealing his name. This was a modest and unknown rabbi who Eli trusted so that he often acted on his advice.”
Olmert did not heed the anonymous rabbi’s warning and the message was not passed on to the military. Taking advice about military matters based on a mystic’s prediction was apparently not on Olmert’s mind.
“I know it sounds hallucinatory, like stories about sorcery and miracles,” admitted Olmert. “The natural inclination is to laugh, to say thank you, to humor the storyteller and try not to insult him.”
A mere 90 minutes later, the Israeli navy’s missile boat, “Hanit” was hit by a Hezbollah missile 10 miles off the Lebanese coast, killing four Israeli seamen. It was the first successful attack against an Israeli warship in decades. Subsequent investigations into the event concluded that the crew did not act sufficiently in order to anticipate the threat.
“The strike was one of the most painful moments of the war and put some wind into Hezbollah’s sails,” Olmert wrote.
Olmert wrote his autobiography, “B’guf rishon” (In the First Person) while serving a prison term of 16 months for fraud and bribery. Originally sentenced to 27 months of imprisonment, Olmert was convicted in 2014 of accepting bribes to promote a real-estate project in Jerusalem and of obstructing justice.
Olmert acted as prime minister in 2006 after his immediate predecessor, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke. A few months later, he was elected as prime minister at the head of the now-defunct Kadima party and served until 2009.