Since when do achievements legitimize corruption?
Op-ed: Netanyahu's supporters are stressing his achievements: The declining international isolation, the thriving economy, the growing relations with some of our neighboring countries. But in some areas—like the crawl towards one state, like the surrender to the Haredim, like the attack on law enforcement authorities—the prime minister is becoming a problem. He’s acting in Netanyahu's best interest, not in the state’s best interest.
It includes the politically-motivated selective persecution of Israeli officials. Both President Reuven Rivlin and former Minister Haim Ramon were victims of persecution over criticism of the legal oligarchy.
And is also includes political activism, like in the case of Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber, who strikes down every appropriate ministerial decision that requires her approval. This doesn’t happen anywhere in the world. Only in Israel.
But all these claims have nothing to do with the affairs involving Benjamin Netanyahu. It doesn’t matter if he is eventually indicted, and he will likely be indicted. It’s perfectly clear that we are dealing with unprecedented public corruption.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, might I remind you, was the media darling, and perhaps even the darling of most senior officials at the State Attorney’s Office. Did that help him? Former State Attorney Moshe Lador once admitted in an interview to Nahum Barnea, “In my political views, I’m not against (Olmert).” Nevertheless, he filed an indictment.
So we can keep waving the positive media attention claim, including the favorable treatment late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received following the Gaza Disengagement. It happened. It’s over. You can’t hang on to every justified claim forever.
But to hell with the facts. Netanyahu could drag us to an unnecessary election campaign in which the “persecution” against him will become the main theme, perhaps even the exclusive theme.
He feels like he’s on solid ground. After all, he managed to turn the tables. He isn’t corrupt; he’s a victim. He’s being persecuted. He isn’t the one sitting in the dock; his investigators are. And so are the people who had his full confidence. The three state’s witnesses and the police chief are already in the dock. The attorney general will soon join them. Netanyahu will turn him into a dangerous persecutor too.
Netanyahu isn’t seeking elections because of his capitulation to the Haredim, which is destroying the country; or because of Likud’s annexation aspirations, which could crush the Zionist vision; or because the growing construction outside the settlement blocs, dictated by the radical right, is turning Israel into one big binational state.
Those are the issues that call for elections. When it comes to those issues, there is a clear majority against Netanyahu. But most news programs, articles and commentators are dealing almost exclusively with one single issue: The Netanyahu affairs. Somewhat paradoxically, the “hostile media” aren’t harming Netanyahu, they’re strengthening him.
No one wants early elections, neither Netanyahu's party members nor his coalition partners. The broad public definitely isn’t interested in elections. Why waste billions? If it does happen, it will happen because elections serve one person, just one. At least that’s what he thinks, although I doubt he would be able to hold on to the image of the persecuted leader he has managed to create.
In his current situation, even a picture of him holding a suitcase full of cash won’t make any difference. But it won’t last forever. After all, not all his supporters live on feelings. Some of his voters are influenced by the facts and testimonies too.
Netanyahu's supporters are stressing his achievements: The international isolation is in decline; the economy is thriving, the relations with some of our neighboring countries are growing stronger, and not just under the table, but in the sky too. Netanyahu played a part in these achievements. But since when do achievements legitimize corruption?
Moreover, alongside these achievements there are some causes for concern. In some areas—like the crawl towards one state, like the surrender to the Haredim, like the attack on law enforcement authorities—Netanyahu is becoming a problem. He’s acting in Netanyahu's best interest, not in the state’s best interest.
In the previous election campaign, Netanyahu managed to fool the public by calling early elections for his own sake. It cost NIS 2 billion. We don’t need it to happen again.