BERLIN - Any Israeli that has opened a newspaper in the past year knows that Israel is a corrupt country, and now, the Germans know it, too. Under the headline, "The land of affairs", German weekly "Der Spiegel" gave a detailed review of the corruption that takes place among the Jerusalem leadership.
The paper's Kristof Schult outlined former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's entangled affairs, from the fresh Holyland real estate corruption case, to the Talansky affair, and even the matter of the former prime minister's expensive pen collection, the value of which he is accused of misleading the tax authorities about.
The article's subheading clearly states: Israel's former prime minister may find himself in prison.
The article opens with a description of the Montblanc and Sheaffer pens made of gold and platinum at the Dana Pens store in Tel Aviv, "each of which is valued at over 10,000 euros (roughly $13,000)". The article says the store's owner, Shimon Dana, "still remembers the exact date in which two officers entered his business on 74 Dizengoff Street."
From Sharon to Benizri
But the article does not only deal with Olmert. It includes, among other things, the investigations of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. It also covers former Ministers and current prisoners Shlomo Benizri and Abraham Hirchson, who each got their picture in the paper.
The paper also featured a larger picture, showing Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud bark in "Wanted" posters recently hung around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Former minister Benizri gets visit in jail (Photo: Courtesy of Kikar.net)
However, the Israeli reader may find some comfort in quotes the writer brings from a conversation with Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer of the Israel Democracy Institute. "Are the Israeli politicians really more corrupt than others, or is it simply that the Israeli investigators are more stringent than their European counterparts?" Schult asked.
"Both answers are correct," Kremnitzer said, "The laws in Israel in this matter are firmer than in Europe, and, on the other hand, the ethical quality of the Israeli politicians is nothing to be enthusiastic about."
The article also makes note of Israel's deterioration in the Transparency International corruption index, as it now finds itself in 32nd place "far behind most of the Western countries."
The end of the article makes a slightly pretentious statement: "Up until now, the election system in Israel has been dominated by the conflict with the Arabs. Now, this may change: More and more Israelis believe today that their existence is under threat not from external sources."
The report backs this statement with a quote by Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon, saying, "I am more concerned about corruption than the Iranian threat."