From the Hebrew Press: 'Blue and White' - the Fake News party

'​​​​​​​Blue and White,' the Israeli political party nicknamed 'The Three Chiefs of Staff' party misled the public shamelessly when it connected stocks Netanyahu sold in 2010 with the 2015 IDF-ThyssenKrupp submarine purchase deal. And that's not all.

Haggai Segal

OpEds Gantz campaign launch
Gantz campaign launch
צילום: אלירן אהרון

Posted with permission from the Makor Rishon Hebrew newspaper.

In contrast to the impression given by the media, the "submarine file" (aka file 3000, one of four files investigating alleged corruption during Netanyahu's term of office) was not reopened this week.

State's witness Mickey Ganor, the State Prosecutor's Archimedean point in the case, retracted the agreement he had signed with the prosecution. He now denies not only his own guilt but also that of the other accused whom he had previously incriminated. According to his story, the investigators put words into his mouth. The prosecutor's office claims that the evidence in the case is still solid, but it is not unreasonable to doubt that solidity.

Journalists who once dedicated themselves to blowing the affair out of all proportion are now using words like "falling apart" to describe the current situation. It is far from certain that any of the chief actors in the file will be indicted – in fact, it is not even certain it will be brought to court.

The leading star in the media story, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was cleared of all suspicion long ago. He wasn't even interrogated about it under warning. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit ordered Netanyahu questioned down to the smallest detail concerning files 1000, 2000 and 4000, but not about file 3000.

Why didn't they interrogate him?  Because there was no justification for it.  The claim that the Prime Minister saw to the purchase of unnecessary German submarines in order to achieve some kind of personal gain, was disproved early on.

One of the people who helped disprove the claims was then IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. On November 29, 2016, several days after Israeli investigative journalist Raviv Drucker dedicated an entire show on the now-defunct Channel 10 to an investigation of the submarine affiar, I made note of Eizenkot's official denial of the main thesis behind the suspicions directed at Netanyahu in file 3000.

The Chief of Staff described how the discussions held by IDF upper echelons began in 2012 and progressed to the point of issuing a tender in 2014. "There was disagreement over whether we needed nine or six submarines," he recalled, reviewing the developments. "We wanted six and our opinion was accepted. We were under no pressure to make superfluous acquisitions."

In other words, according to Eisenkot, Netanyahu did not pressure the IDF to purchase submarines it did not need from Germany. The deal with ThyssenKrupp was agreed upon five whole years after Netanyahu sold the last of his stock holdings in an American company that at most served as a second level supplier to the submarine manufacturers (the factory manufactured incendiary material for a company that strengthens steel, one of whose clients is ThyssenKrupp).

No submarine was purchased from the Germans during the period in which Netanyahu owned those stocks. The people surrounding him continue to claim passionately that he bought them legally, sold them legally, even paid capital gains tax on them. Even if the transaction might bear looking into, it has nothing to do with the submarines.

Last week that party became a leading manufacturer of Fake News, producing a new and false sensational announcement almost daily and marketing it successfully.
On a different occasion, I heard Eisenkot hotly deny conjectures that he has any intentions of one day entering politics. Despite the shortening of his post-army "cooling-off period," it seems that he intends to remain true to that denial and refrain from following in the footsteps of most of his predecessors. Three of them got together recently to form a party that promised to rid Israel of corruption, but is paving its way to the voting booth with lies, lies and more lies. Last week that party became a leading manufacturer of Fake News, producing a new and false sensational announcement almost daily and marketing it successfully. The pack of lies led to a gratifying rise in the polls.

The "Three Chiefs of Staff" party shamelessly misled the public last week when it tied the stocks Netanyahu sold in 2010 with Israel's purchase deal made with ThyssenKrupp in 2015. The party committed unadulterated slander when it recited the same mantra again and again, claiming that this deal was "the worst security breach in Israel's history." Not one of the party leaders believes this fabrication and none would never dare repeat it if attached to a lie detector. They simply rely on the voting public's lack of access to a polygraph, figuring that at the very least, part of the libel will stick to Netanyahu.

Their concerted efforts to shake off another security issue, Iranian Intelligence's hacking of party leader Benny Gantz's mobile phone, led them to spread another lie last week – the claim that it was none other than Netanyahu who leaked the story to Channel 12 news.  Rest assured, this was no innocent mistake, it was a purposeful lie intended to deflect voters' attention from their party leader's failures. Far from the public eye, the party's candidates were furious at Gantz for not informing them of the Iranian hacking, but for the sake of their common electoral goal, they were prepared to unite around the baseless lie accusing the prime minister of leaking the story.

Gantz himself was caught in a bona fide lie last week when he denied the recording of him talking revealed by Channel 13.  In the recording, he is clearly heard saying that he would join a Netanyahu-led coalition – this, despite his public commitment to refuse to do so. His tweeted response to this contradiction was that it was recorded before his commitment. A short while later, it was revealed that the order of events was actually the reverse, so that Gantz was caught in a double lie: He lied when he promised not to join  a Netanyahu-led government (when he is actually planning to join, if the situation arises) and then he lied about the damaging recording being an old one.  Luckily for him – and he seems of late to be having a good deal of luck  – the public is not sufficiently attuned to these details, nor is it attuned to the logical flaws in Gantz's explanations of the mobile phone issue.

If Gantz were running for the US presidency, he would be forced to provide clear explanations for the embarrassing story documented on his mobile, but luckily for him, he is a leading candidate in Israel, not the United States. Family values are much less important here, and so is sticking to the truth.

The leaders of Blue and White have been lying shamelessly for the last week without batting an eyelash.

Translation by Rochel Sylvetsky, Arutz Sheva Senior Consultant and Op-ed Editor.