There are judges in Jerusalem, as former Prime Minister Menachem Begin once said. They decided to acquit another former Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, at a ratio of 2:1 (he was acquitted on two counts and convicted on one). We must respect the court's decision.
But there is also legitimate criticism. This verdict will be studied in the future and perhaps legal experts will even pen a polemic study about it. Something along the lines of the paper Mordechai Kremnitzer and Shlomit Mannheim-Wallerstein wrote about how Israel's court system tends to treat the elite more favorably than the common citizen.
The Jerusalem District Court must be respected, but a verdict that states that a politician who took money did not break the law must be re-examined by the Supreme Court. This verdict is a fundamental value judgment.
Olmert's acquittal of major corruption charges dealt a painful blow to the State Prosecutor's Office. The good guys took a hit, because the public won't read the criticism the court leveled against Olmert in the verdict. The public will count the acquittals in the simplest way — that no crime was committed.
The prosecution is now on the defensive, as is its central figure, State Prosecutor Moshe Lador. His opponents will try to take advantage of his embarrassment and exhaustion to push him into a corner — force him not to appeal the Olmert verdict; force him to back off the Holyland corruption trial (in which Olmert is charged with accepting bribes); force him to "go to Canossa" like an unwilling penitent — indeed, not just to walk, but to run to Canossa.
If Lador's opponents are successful, it will not only be Olmert (who was also convicted of breach of trust on Tuesday) who comes out clean. All the advancements made by the rule of law will recede. The State Prosecutor's Office will become anxious and depressed and will consequently close pending cases against many public figures. Once again, the courts will revert to acquitting public leaders.
In legalese they call it mens rea (Latin for "guilty mind" — one of the necessary elements of a crime). In laymen's terms: Who believes that Olmert didn't know about his underlings' manipulations of Rishontours airline ticket purchases? If a judge can believe that a dominant man like Olmert had no idea that he had amassed such large sums of money — not frequent flyer miles, but money — then he should acquit.
There is room for oversight on the state prosecution. It wouldn't be too difficult to establish a body to oversee the prosecution. There is also room for a critique — external bodies can be involved in examining the prosecution's past work. But at the end of the day, the prosecution is an effective and admirable institution, and anyway, we don't have any alternative.
The prosecution is good. It is effective. It is okay to lose in court sometimes. If it weren't, there would be no need for courts. If the prosecutors remain true to their vision, with integrity and humility, the political and media pressure being exerted on them cannot faze them.