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The Spell Of Montezuma


Historians are both amazed and dumbfounded at the incredible saga of the Aztec nation. How was it possible, they ask, for Cortez and a relatively small number of Spanish soldiers to bring the mighty Aztec alliance to its knees?

In essence, researchers and archeologists have learned that Montezuma, leader of the Aztecs, first mistook the Spaniards for gods. The Aztecs were astonished by these white men – by their weapons, their horses, their huge ships. Montezuma, as we all know, soon became a prisoner in his own palace, a victim of Cortez but also of his own superstitious, self-defeating beliefs.

By the time the Aztecs understood the nature and desire of these new “gods,” particularly their insatiable lust for gold, it was too late. They had, in essence, given Cortez the keys to their capital city. Still, they had one last desperate chance as the Aztecs, fed up with their leader’s dismal lack of action, chased the marauders out of their territory.

Many of the Spaniards, their pockets filled with heavy gold, were unable to run fast enough and were killed. But the Aztecs let Cortez and some of his men escape. They eventually returned with enough strength to destroy the Aztec nation.

For what may be the closest living example to a modern-day Montezuma, we need only to look to Ehud Olmert and the Israeli government. Israel is surrounded on all sides by openly hostile enemies, and yet its leaders seem capable only of thinking and talking about what to give up next.

As was the case with Montezuma, the only action they take is deliberate inaction. Like the desperate Montezuma, Olmert keeps hoping to win the love and affection of enemies who are hell bent on the opposite.

The attempts to harm Israeli civilians and disrupt normal life continue unabated from both Gaza and the West Bank. With each passing day the Olmert government seems increasingly paralyzed, incapable of action, as Kassam rockets continue to fall.

Even the banging of war drums in Iran and Syria has failed to rouse Olmert and his associates, who seem instead to wallow in a phony sense of self-righteousness.

The recent Kassam attack from Gaza on an Israeli army base, which injured more than 60, would be considered an act of war by any other country, bringing about a swift, decisive military response. But the spell of Montezuma is alive and well in the Israeli Knesset.

The Aztecs had the means, at least at the time of their initial contact with the Spaniards, to take control and dictate policy. Israel has it one step better. It continues, at least for now, to hold a military advantage. The problem is that the Israeli government won’t use it, even in the face of hostile military action from its neighbors.

The world sees Olmert neither as a strong leader nor as a man of peace. He comes across, to friend and foe alike, as a man of inaction with no discernable self-pride – the very qualities a nation prays to find in its enemies, not its leaders.

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