Photo: Yariv Katz
Attorney David Shimron arrives at police station for questioning. Should have been more cautious tha
Photo: Yariv Katz
Yoaz Hendel

Israel’s ‘associates’ industry

Op-ed: Just like a journalist can’t take money to write words he doesn’t believe in, a public servant can’t advance private businesses. Whoever works for the state must put everything on hold and lose money he could have earned elsewhere. There’s no other way.

Attorney David Shimron has no ideology. He is neither right-wing nor left-wing. He is supposed to be transparent to the odd Israeli measure, in which each person defines corruption according to his own political camp. Shimron is a professional lawyer, a confidant who makes money from advising large business and makes a name for himself from advising one business—the Israeli prime minister. His title is “associate.”



Since the beginning of time, government members needed advisors and associates, and vice versa. There is no legal or moral problem in being a government crony. The problem begins when the affiliation is an economic rather than ideological tool. Instead of influencing the advancement of construction in the Galilee or in Gush Etzion, they advance the construction of luxury towers. Instead of writing ideology, they write business plans. It happened to Shimon Sheves, the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office under Yitzhak Rabin, and it happened to Ariel Sharon’s family in the Greek island affair. It happens to everyone in African countries and to certain businesspeople in the United States. It always stinks and it always leads to corruption.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his personal lawyer and relative, David Shimron. This isn’t the submarine affair, it’s the conflict of interest affair (Photos: Emil Salman, Yaron Brener)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and his personal lawyer and relative, David Shimron. This isn’t the submarine affair, it’s the conflict of interest affair (Photos: Emil Salman, Yaron Brener)


In the real world, it takes people time to become closer. They drink coffee together, go to a movie, talk a little or a lot, smile, get to know each other and sometimes become friends. In politics, the closeness arrives at once. There are interests which shorten the long road of the human character. I think I first understood that after being at the Prime Minister’s Office for a while. I came and I went. I got physically close for work purposes only, yet I remember how surprised I was when a Likud member asked me to relay a certain message, assuming that “you’re an associate.” And I didn’t even know I was one.


A large part of the “associates” industry in Israel is the result of guided imagery. An industry of falsehood. The paying side assumes that the associate has abilities, and the associate doesn’t deny it even if he doesn’t have any. There is so much imagination, that no one knows who’s close to who and when. In Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s case, the list is long. The longer he remains at the top and the higher the turnover of people around him, the more the industry develops. The top secret in this industry is that being close to Netanyahu is good for a limited period of time. Netanyahu has many abilities; friendship and mental closeness are not among them.


David Shimron and Yitzhak Molcho are the exception. They run a successful law firm which is active in different kinds of areas and have close relations in other areas: From foreign relations to domestic relations; from libel suits and family woes to coalition demands. That’s the reason Shimron should have been more cautious than others, stayed away from deals with the state while representing its prime minister, stayed from meetings with defense establishment officials on business matters and avoided making private money as long as he has absolute influence.


In 2012, I spent many hours with his partner, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, while travelling for peace talks in Jordan on behalf of Netanyahu. I meet him sometimes. I see him as a decent and impressive person. I know and have a lot of appreciation for Major-General (res.) Eliezer Marom from my military service. I’m very critical of Netanyahu, but I’m almost convinced that he didn’t pocket any money. All these impressions make no difference.


Whoever works for the state should do the rational thing and put everything on hold, lose money he could have earned at the same time had he worked outside. There’s no other way. This isn’t the submarine affair or the Bezeq affair. It’s the associates and conflict of interest affair. The small perks affair, the search for cigars which lead to the turning of a blind eye.


A journalist can’t take money indirectly to write words he doesn’t believe in, even if it’s a private business. A public servant can’t advance private businesses, neither as a ministry’s director-general nor as an external advisor. It’s so simple and clear that it raises questions about the intelligence of the affair’s heroes, and mainly about ours. It’s hard and painful, but without the “media’s” pressure and investigations, corruption would not be rooted out. The only offensive Likud members should launch is for a clarification of the truth, regardless of what it may be.


פרסום ראשון: 07.20.17, 20:58
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