Sunday, March 11, 2018

Netanyahu scandals and Israel's democracy

If you’ve been following the most prominent Right-leaning essayists in the Anglo-Israel press, you may have noticed something odd. These elite pro-Israel essayists include, among others, Caroline Glick, Martin Sherman and Isi Leibler. What’s odd is, no one in this Right-leaning group has so far joined the anti-Netanyahu drumbeat that has taken control of Israel's media.

None of these essayists has called upon Netanyahu to resign because accusations of corruption grab press headlines. None call for him to resign because the police investigate him. None demand he resign because he might be indicted.

There are two reasons these writers refuse to join these calls. First, they see Benjamin Netanyahu for what is he; and, second, they understand what he is not.

First, Benjamin Netanyahu is the most competent leader Israel has right now. He has proven repeatedly that—despite his flaws--he can guide this Jewish nation through some of the most dangerous political waters Israel has ever faced.

These writers also understand what Netanyahu is not. He is not one who will ignore the Jew-hate of the Palestinian Authority just to sign a paper marked, ‘peace’. He is not one who believes that the UN and the EU know better than Israel what’s in Israel’s best interest. He doesn’t believe Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. He bases his policy decisions on these beliefs.

The Left rejects these beliefs. It sees any policies based on such beliefs, ‘criminal’. Therefore, the Left and its media/police supporters will protect Israel against such political ‘crimes’ by removing Netanyahu from office. At a time when Israel is threatened by Iran, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the UN, the Left will remove Netanyahu over such critical political issues as bottle deposits, ice cream, cigars and whiskey (see below).

Here are some excerpts from Rightist essayists about their concerns:

--Isi Leibler, "Ever since he was elected to lead the Likud and especially after he became prime minister, the mainstream media – apart from Israel Hayom – has ceaselessly sought to besmirch him and his family. No other democratic leader has been continuously vilified to such an extent. The liberal Israeli media has had more front-page coverage of Netanyahu’s alleged personal failings and vague accusations of corruption than coverage of the turbulent and bloody events in the region that threaten our very survival (“Candidly speaking: dysfunctional politics and disgraceful behaviour", jerusalempost, February 20, 2018).

--Martin Sherman: As [the Left’s] astonished disbelief [that Netanyahu kept winning elections] morphed into visceral rage, a cavalcade of charges was unleashed, admonishing him (and/or his spouse) for irregular use of garden furniture, the employment of an electrician, the proceeds from the sale of recycled bottles; payments to a moving contractor, an inflated ice cream bill (no kidding), the cost of his wife’s coiffure, meals ordered for the official PM residence from restaurants; expenses involving the care of his ailing 96 year old father-in-law…Significantly, several of the investigations into these “grave transgressions” ended with a recommendation by the police to indict. Equally significantly, no indictment ever materialized—usually because of ‘difficulties with the evidence provided’…Indeed, just how ludicrous and uncalled for the relentless witch-hunt appeared to some outside pundits is vividly reflected in a scathing critique of the anti-Netanyahu probes by the ever-incisive Daniel Greenfield, who jeered disparagingly: “Netanyahu’s wife was accused of stealing bottle deposits. ‘Attorney general mulls probe into Sara Netanyahu’s bottle deposits’ isn’t a gag, it’s an actual headline” (“Into the fray: police, press and a politicized Putsch?”, arutzsheva, February 23, 2018).

--Martin Sherman: "...  it is staggering just how petty and vindictive the vicious vendetta against Israel’s longest serving prime minister is—and how utterly irrelevant its alleged incriminations are to both the challenges the nation is facing and to Netanyahu’s fitness, as PM, to meet them...Thus, after over a year of intensive investigations, that spanned several continents and reportedly costing the Israeli taxpayer tens of millions of shekels, all that the police could come up with is that Netanyahu accepted an unseemly amount of smokes and hootch from his long-time buddies—in exchange for which, at the end of the day, they received precisely zilch, nada, zippo!...Really?? (“Into the fray: Coup d'etat?", arutzsheva, February 16, 2018).

Of course, there are many more accusations than “smokes and hootch (whiskey)” just referred to above. But even with these other accusations, Caroline Glick suggests, nothing adds up to jail-time offenses or a reason for Netanyahu to resign.

-Caroline Glick:  “It is easy to get swept away in the flood of prejudicial leaks and biased reporting that have already indicted, tried and pronounced Netanyahu’s guilt. But when you analyze the actual cases being assembled against him, it becomes clear that not only is there nothing there, these probes themselves represent an unprecedented assault on the basic norms of Israel” (“Column One: there is no there here”, jerusalempost,  March 1, 2018).  I suggest to you that the “basic norms” Glick refers to are the democratic ‘rules of law’ Israel is supposed to live by.

Regarding the threat to Israel:

----Martin Sherman: "If Netanyahu is not indicted, or indicted and acquitted, it will be a massive blow to the credibility of the nation’s law enforcement….If he is convicted and forced out of office, many will see this as naked politicization of law enforcement in the country, in effect, a legalistic coup d'état, designed to annul the outcome of elections--and will deal a mortal blow to their faith in the democratic process" (“Coup d'etat”, ibid).

-Caroline Glick: “On their face, these probes are neither supported by sufficient evidence to bring a conviction, nor do they serve the public interest...In Netanyahu’s case, the police’s insufficiently substantiated, arguably specious claims are the subject of around the clock media coverage, fed by constant leaks from police investigators and underpinned by middle-of-the-night arrests of respected citizens. The undisguised goal of this media coverage is to cultivate a sense among the public – without bringing a case to court – that Netanyahu and his friends and advisers are evil crooks who stop at nothing to get their way...If these investigations are successful in forcing Netanyahu from office, he will not be the most significant victim of this abuse. If he goes, every current and future politician will know that at any time and under any circumstances he is liable to find himself and his loved ones destroyed by abusive criminal probes. Operating under such terror, no elected leader will ever move beyond the boundaries dictated for him by politicized police investigators, prosecutors, journalists and judges…In other words, if Netanyahu is forced from office, Israeli democracy will be critically, and possibly irreparably, debilitated” (“Column One: Defending the rule of law”, jerusalempost, February 22, 2018).

If Glick, Sherman and Leibler are correct, Israel's media has a problem. It doesn’t serve the public interest. It serves the forces in Israel that would destroy Israel’s democracy. 

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