לימור לבנת
Limor Livnat
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Impoverished woman at her decrepit apartment in Jerusalem

Netanyahu's public legal fund should be used to help Israel's poor

Opinion: It's a disgrace Holocaust survivors are expected to survive on chicken feed and are unable to shield themselves from the cold while large sums are being collected for a former premier who is worth NIS 50 million

Limor Livnat |
Published: 01.20.22, 23:55
It is cold, and many senior citizens don't have the money to heat their homes. Many have to forgo food, medication and even rent in order to survive on the meager stipend provided by the government to its elder population.
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  • Those who suffer most are Holocaust survivors. Some 160,000 of them still live in Israel and one-third live on a budget of no more than NIS 4,000 ($ 1,250) a month. That is a disgrace! These people are often unable to afford a warm winter blanket.
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    ורד מירושלים, מנותקת מחשמל
    ורד מירושלים, מנותקת מחשמל
    Impoverished woman at her decrepit apartment in Jerusalem
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    Some nonprofits try to assist and some branches of government do as well, volunteers also mobilize, but that is not enough.
    It should be the responsibility and the duty of the state to solve these problems, especially as we are to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day next week.
    Having said all that, news of a public funding campaign, collecting money to pay for the criminal defense of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was surprising.
    When I first heard of the effort, I thought there was a commendable attempt to collect much-needed funds to provide heating to families in need during the cold spell that is now engulfing the country.
    4 View gallery
    נתניהו באולם בית המשפט
    נתניהו באולם בית המשפט
    Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in court
    (Photo: AFP)
    It was only later that I realized, Israelis were asked to open their purses for Netanyahu, whose worth is estimated by Forbes at upwards of NIS 50 million ($16 million).
    The funding initiative is asking Israelis to give money to assist Netanyahu in his corruption trial where he is accused, among other things, of accepting expensive jewelry and other gifts to the tune of hundreds of thousands of shekels.
    The former premier's supporters and members of his Likud Party were quick to claim that the public's willingness to donate can be seen as a protest against the judicial system's "witch hunt" and their "trumped-up charges" which are exposed being in the Jerusalem District Court.
    I don't claim to know how his trial will end. Will he be exonerated? Or will he be found guilty of bribery, fraud and breach of trust?
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    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Then-PM Netanyahu flanked by Likud members accusing prosecution of leveling trumped-up charges against him, last year
    (Photo: Contact)
    My faith lies in our legal system and in the courts. The defendant himself voiced the same beliefs before he found himself under indictment.
    I have faith in Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit's integrity and reject political pundits and members of the public's custom from either left or right to support the courts only when their rulings serve their own interests.
    Since the Netanyahu family issued a moving statement thanking the public for their generosity, and the former premier's sons even called up the supporter who initiated the campaign to thank them in person; I can only hope that there is no intention to defraud the generous donors, some of whom are far from wealthy.
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    בית משפחת נתניהו בקיסריה
    בית משפחת נתניהו בקיסריה
    The Netanyahu residence in Caesarea
    (Photo: Yair Sagi)
    The millions already collected would be better spent aiding Holocaust survivors than a wealthy family from the affluent community of Caesarea.
    The initiators of the campaign should announce immediately they will donate the money to those really in need, who deserve to live out the remainder of their lives with dignity.
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