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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Forgot his words of wisdom against Olmert
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Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin
It’s not a sourpuss industry, it’s a corruption industry
Op-ed: If we keep letting corruption take root in the Knesset, affect the separation of powers in the State of Israel and infiltrate the legislation process, this amazing Zionist enterprise will evaporate, and we’ll all be depressed and sour, but mainly rotten.
The legislation granting a sitting prime minister immunity from investigation is corrupt legislation, and the public should take to the streets if it doesn’t stop.

 

 

Like many citizens in this country, I have been following the media updates and reports about the investigations taking place these days in the Lahav 443 fraud investigation unit and the different opinions in the public about these investigations.

 

Unlike many people who hope the investigations will lead to a political upheaval, I sincerely hoped that the prime minister would be replaced democratically, rather than through the legal system. I believe that the people of Israel’s top priority should be the important, and even fatal, democratic decision on the way the citizens of the State of Israel choose to march toward implementing the vision of Zionism—being a democratic and Jewish state, in which the rule of law is above everything else.

 

Netanyahu addressing the Knesset, last week. Corruption has reached the Knesset, and this time it’s no longer in the form of ‘errant weeds’   (Photo: Reuters)
Netanyahu addressing the Knesset, last week. Corruption has reached the Knesset, and this time it’s no longer in the form of ‘errant weeds’ (Photo: Reuters)

 

Because I believe the means are as important as the end, I hoped and I still hope that the state’s citizens will express their disgust over the current leadership’s conduct—as well as over its norms and values—in democratic elections, and choose a new way. I am convinced that a democratic decision is preferable to maintain the Israeli society’s national strength.

 

I see no room, therefore, for pressing the attorney general or the police, and definitely not the Supreme Court—neither from the right nor from the left, and not even from the center. On the contrary, we should voice our support for them so they can do their jobs fearlessly and undisturbed and produce professional, clean and impartial decisions, free of politics. The people heading these important systems are well aware of the essence of their positions, the value of national-scale responsibility and, above all, the importance of the rule of law and the fact that all of us, with no exception, are subject to the authority of the rule of law.

 

The recent developments in the Knesset and in the coalition have changed my mind. Any sensible person can clearly see that corruption has reached the Knesset, and this time it’s no longer in the form of “errant weeds.” It has put down deep roots in our house of representatives, who are allowing it to stand on the podium, undisguised—and worse, with no shame—in an attempt to lead fundamentally corrupt legislation, aimed at shielding the prime minister through unrestrained politics from the police investigations and the attorney general.

 

The coalition deal they are apparently trying to devise behind the scenes, under which the law preventing future investigations of the current prime minister would be approved in exchange for an agreement to limit the prime minister to two terms in office, reeks of intolerable corruption which can be felt miles away. There’s no other way to explain the attempt to advance such a deal apart from hysteria at the Prime Minister’s Residence over the potential outcome of what is taking place in the Lahav 443 interrogation rooms.

 

Unlike the sourpuss specialist from Jerusalem’s Balfour Street, I am not particularly concerned about the despondency industry in the State of Israel and about the sourpuss industry he says has developed in the State of Israel, but I am much more concerned about the corruption industry which has developed the rotten eggs industry in our parliament—whose representatives have no problem insulting bereaved families and the heads of the defense establishment and legal system without any of Jabotinsky’s inner glory, whose representatives openly declare on the radio that their goal is the rescue the prime minister from the current investigations against him and from future investigation which may develop.

 

Of course we’re told almost every day that “there’s nothing, because there was nothing, because there’s nothing” or that all the investigations are complete nonsense. It’s just a few takeout trays (worth hundreds of thousands of shekels), just a few packs of fine cigars and champagne bottles (worth hundreds of thousands of shekels) or just a weird coincidence that the closest people to the sourpuss man—like the relative lawyer who represented the man from Caesarea who became a state’s witness in the submarine and vessel deal, or the former Navy officer who was almost appointed by the prime minister, in the most puzzling manner, as head of the National Security Council while the submarine and vessel deal was in the works—are involved in the same deal that was led by the prime minister against the IDF and Defense Ministry’s position.

 

Netanyahu with Coalition Chairman David Bitan (center) and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. Instead of demonstrating leadership and putting the national interest before any personal interest, the prime minister is setting his yes men on everyone    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
Netanyahu with Coalition Chairman David Bitan (center) and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. Instead of demonstrating leadership and putting the national interest before any personal interest, the prime minister is setting his yes men on everyone (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)

 

As the police investigations progress, we are witnessing more and more whining, delusional persecution stories or, alternatively, spins aimed at diverting the public’s attention from these important issues while inciting against everyone—especially against political rivals, Israel’s Arab citizens, and recently even against the heads of the defense establishment, the legal system and the state control system (all of whom, without any exception, were appointments led by Netanyahu).

 

I remember an opposition leader who in 2008 publicly called on then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign immediately, using the following claim, which isn’t baseless: “This prime minister is up to his neck in investigations and has no moral and public mandate to make fateful decisions for the State of Israel, because there is a real and not unfounded concern that he will make decisions based on the personal interest of his political survival, rather than based on the national interest.”

 

This statement is correct and justified indeed. The problem is that the same opposition leader—who went on to become prime minister—forgot his words of wisdom, as usual, and is avoiding demonstrating any leadership and national-scale responsibility and putting the national interest before any personal interest. Instead, he is setting his yes men on everyone.

 

There’s no dispute that the State of Israel definitely has reasons to be concerned by Palestinian terror or by radical Islamic terror, by Hezbollah’s rocket abilities or by Iran’s military or nuclear abilities. But we can handle all these through the State of Israel’s military, security and strategic abilities, as well as through cooperation with the international community wherever it is required.

 

We do have a reason, however, to panic over the moral and ethical decay we are being led by, which is infiltrating the Knesset and government systems and undermining our future and the foundations of our existence. If we let corruption take its place in the Knesset, affect the separation of powers in the state, and most importantly, infiltrate the most sensitive process in a democratic state—the legislation process by our public representatives—this amazing Zionist enterprise will evaporate, and we’ll all be depressed, sour and mainly rotten.

 

The coalition discussions on the law banning investigations against a sitting prime minister must serve, therefore, as a red light for us all. This corrupt legislation must stop immediately. Otherwise, Israeli citizens from all ends of the political spectrum must take to the streets in masses and protest against this despicable bill in a democratic way, until it is completely removed from the agenda.

 

Yuval Diskin is a former Shin Bet director.

 

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