This time, it’s not just cigars or champagne
Op-ed: The multiple cases the prime minister is allegedly involved in, the growing number of suspects around him and the multiple circles closing in on Netanyahu can no longer be ignored by senior Likud members and by his coalition partners; this disgrace must end.
The group of suspects brought to the court Sunday evening for a remand extension leaves no room for doubt. The police are taking what has been dubbed Case 4000 very seriously—and as of Sunday, it appears to be the No. 1 case allegedly involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After learning about the severity of the suspicions, to the nature of the offenses and to the list of interrogatees, it seems impossible that Netanyahu—who isn’t just close to all these people but who also served as the communications minister—isn’t deeply involved in this affair.
And he’s not the only one. According to what was revealed Sunday, the prime minister’s wife was involved in the offenses too—gaining flattering coverage on the Walla! News website in return for benefits worth millions of shekels that her husband gave the Bezeq telecommunications company.
The allegations aren’t surprising. They all have to do with the apple of Netanyahu's eye—the media—and his need to control it, and with the apple of Sara Netanyahu's eye—the obsessive pursuit of positive coverage, including flattering photos, a report on every single event she attends and, most importantly, ensuring that her work as a psychologist in the public service is mentioned every time.
While in Case 2000 there is a recording but no proof of action, in this case there is action and no recording. But this time, it seems, there is more than recordings: There are articles and photos on the Walla! News website and, most importantly, testimonies of the website’s editors about relentless pressure for positive coverage of the prime minister’s family.
And the return is clear: A gift worth millions. The police will have no trouble finding the golden piece of evidence here, the return. There is someone who gave a bribe and someone who took a bribe. It’s all documented. And with the growing evidence about pressure to deliver the goods, which sometimes came straight from the horse’s mouth, it’s likely going to be the simplest case.
The “there will be nothing because there is nothing” claim likely won’t hold water this time. And indeed, the prime minister spared us from this mantra in the response he issued Sunday. This time, he just mentioned the media’s witch hunt against his family. Even Netanyahu seems to understand there is a limit to the insult to our intelligence. If we are asked to believe that Netanyahu knew nothing and that there was nothing, only one of two options is possible: Our prime minister is either a complete fool who isn’t aware of what is taking place under his nose, or a person afflicted with corruption who is repeatedly lying to us.
I believe no one will claim that Netanyahu didn’t know or didn’t understand what was going on around him, and that so many people around him are being led to the interrogation room, while he is squeaky clean. It’s time to wake up. The multiple cases, the growing number of interrogatees and the multiple circles closing in on the prime minister can no longer be ignored by senior members of his party and by his coalition partners. This disgrace must end.
Those who see themselves as future contenders for the leadership should know that their silence at this time will cause them great damage, that the public will see them as partners in crime. The coalition party leaders—Moshe Kahlon, Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Lieberman, and even the ultra-Orthodox party leaders—must know that their disassociation is a disgrace. They can no longer say it was just a cigar or a bottle of champagne. Someone has to do something. Someone has to march forward and say: Enough is enough. Someone has to understand that this disgrace can no longer be taken.