While the criminal investigation is closing in on one associate after another, one advisor after another, in one of the most serious affairs in the State of Israel’s history, and perhaps the most serious affair, I find it hard to believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was driven by greed when he advanced the submarine deal.
There are doubts. There are associates being questioned one after the other. There are state’s witnesses. Nevertheless, Netanyahu likely wasn’t a partner in crime. He didn’t make decisions on the submarines in a bid to make a profit for himself or for his associates. It’s impossible, just impossible.
So how can it be that Byzantism plagued his immediate surroundings, and how can it be that there were so many people there who allegedly received benefits, and how can it be that their influence on highly important issues like the state’s security was used for their personal advantage?
It’s possible, just possible, that they fortified themselves with excuses. They must have thought they were advancing a slightly dubious deal, but that it’s okay. After all, Israel must have submarines, and more submarines. And they must have also believed that even if they abusing their position to receive forbidden benefits, it’s not so terrible. Because it’s no longer an offense; it’s the norm.
This is exactly where Netanyahu comes into the picture. He didn’t create the norm of benefits at the expense of wealthy people or the state. He simply took it to new heights. Again, allegedly of course.
It’s an accumulation of things, from cigars and bottles of alcohol to inflated meal budgets and moving outdoor furniture from the official residence to the private residence. And when all this abundance doesn’t end in dinners or even in accommodation at some rich person’s expense abroad, but piles up to a regular practice and growing sums, the close associates know, see and internalize. If the boss is allowed to do it, so are those who surround him.
This isn’t the finest hour of the Israeli Right’s supporters. They are reacting just like the Left reacted to the Ezra Nawi affair. He’s a criminal? Never mind, as long as he’s one of us. The camp is more important than the appropriate norms. Let’s leave the politicians alone. They live in fear of the voters. They are incapable of uttering a word of criticism, because they believe all of the party’s voters support the admired idol Netanyahu. It isn’t clear that they’re right. It’s clear that they are following the herd.
The problem is with the journalists. The Right finally has a welcomed representation in the press. But it’s a little scary, because these journalists are busy defending Netanyahu on a daily basis. Some of them are friends of mine. I listen to them, and I read them, and I’m embarrassed. They have lost their decency and common sense.
It’s not that their criticism against the other press, the left-wing press, even the state media, is completely wrong. On the contrary, some of their criticism is correct. But assuming that what we are witnessing is not just a search for justice but also political persecution of Netanyahu, it doesn’t justify their herd mentality. Both the media and corruption can be criticized. One can be a rightist and also think the Right deserves a leadership that's a bit more decent and brave. But no, they can’t. These days won’t be remembered as their finest hour.