Cutting through all the nonsense after the indictments

The charges on which Netanyahu has been indicted are absolutely non-indictable in a democracy like the United States. Major legal scholars like Prof. Alan Dershowitz, Nathan Lewin, and Prof. Avi Bell have laid it out so clearly — and so often.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer, | updated: 12:36

OpEds Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit
צילום: PR
It is amazing how much utter nonsense and demagoguery has been flying in Israel since the indictments of Prime Minister Netanyahu were announced by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Herewith some reality checking:

1. Liat Ben Ari, the district attorney who led the probes against Netanyahu, missed two of the four days when the Prime Minister’s team presented their most comprehensive portfolio of new evidence and arguments. She attended two days, then flew out of the country on a vacation. That may be unprecedented in the annals of legal history — anywhere. It is unfathomable how she could just skip out and how Mandelblit could permit it without at least rescheduling the calendar for the defense to present its case after she returned with her suntan. A serious legal system in any other democratic country would not function that way.

2. Israel’s Left has a paranoiac and demagogic reflex motion, akin to a twitch, by which they scream “Our Democracy Is Threatened!  Our Democracy Is Threatened!” every time their center-right opposition criticizes them or their corrupt institutions.

There is absolutely nothing “anti-democratic” or “threatening to a democracy” when concerned and serious voices sharply criticize a legal system that is pocked and distorted by aspects of pure corruption and evil. Quite the contrary: only in an anti-democratic Police State do we find that police and government officials are beyond criticism. In America, which is at least as democratic (even on a bad day) than Israel is (on a good day), Republicans at the highest echelons publicly called James Comey, the director of the country’s FBI — the nation’s primary police force — a corrupt serial liar.  They called Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, corrupt. They called her predecessor, Eric Holder, corrupt. 

And they were absolutely correct. The whole bunch of them were rotten. You can google “comey corrupt” and read the 5,130,000 results.  Or “eric holder corrupt” and read the 1,300,000 results. (Holder was much more honest. . . . ) Or “loretta lynch corrupt” and read the only 140,000 results. (She was not less corrupt, only was in office for less time.)  Nowadays, with reversed roles, Democrats call Attorney General William Barr, who actually is one of the most honest and ethical people in American government in years, corrupt. Google that one, and you will get 1,600,000 results.

America is a democracy. Those allegations do not threaten that democracy. And the same goes in America for attacks on the Supreme Court and the whole federal judicial system. Conservatives roundly criticize the corruptness of the Obama Judges who keep wielding insane power to stop every executive initiative advocated by President Trump, and Liberals not only attack the conservatives on the Supreme Court but fabricate the most despicable lies, accusing with complete deceit a decent honorable family man and devout Catholic of being a rapist, and announcing their corrupt plans to add as many more Leftist judges to the Supreme Court as it takes to give them a Leftist judicial majority the next time the Democrats rise to power.

3. In other words, it is OK for Prime Minister Netanyahu and Justice Minister Amir Ohana to attack Avichai Mandelblit, Liat Ben Ari, corruption in the Israeli justice and police sectors, and to accuse the whole corps of rotten apples as rotten to the core.

The real threat to Israeli democracy is a corrupt justice system, a corrupt police system, a corrupt journalist corps, and a conspiracy by all of them to suppress the legitimate criticism of their effort to overturn the will of the voters and to impose a coup.  Just look at how they got Nir Hefetz to turn.  What a disgusting blackmail system! 

Understandably, Israeli security demands exercising extraordinary techniques when investigating Arab terrorists and potential “ticking time bombs.” Along the way, the Israeli police and justice system have adopted aspects of outright corruption and techniques that are repugnant to a civil democracy.

Justice Minister Ohana is right. So is the Prime Minister. It is not “incitement” to assert that the matter smacks of a “coup.”  The charges on which he has been indicted are absolutely non-indictable in a democracy like the United States. Major legal scholars like Prof. Alan DershowitzNathan Lewin, and Prof. Avi Bell have laid it out so clearly — and so often.

4. What kind of democracy leaves in the hands of one unelected person the decision whether to take down a duly elected head of government? In the United States, it takes a majority vote of the 435-member House of Representatives, followed by a two-thirds vote of the United States Senate. All those 535 people have been elected to their posts. By contrast, Israel places in the hands of one unelected person, Avichai Mandelblit, a man who cannot even keep his prosecutor in the country and insist that she delay her vacation during the critical days when the defense presents its portfolio of evidence and legal arguments, the power to throw the
What kind of democracy leaves in the hands of one unelected person the decision whether to take down a duly elected head of government? In the United States, it takes a majority vote of the 435-member House of Representatives, followed by a two-thirds vote of the United States Senate.
country into chaos.

5. Benny Gantz is no less a demagogue than is the description he assigns to Netanyahu.  I watched his speech live, where he blames one man, Netanyahu, for all the chaos, political instability, and for the inability to form a national unity government. The best part of his speech is when he says that everyone else should stop allowing Netanyahu to stand in the way — so that he, Gantz, now can be Prime Minister.  What a simple idea! I have an even better idea: How about that Gantz get out of the way so that I — or you — can be Prime Minister? 

6. News Flash: Gantz does not have 61 seats for a government, just as he did not after the prior election, just as he does not and will not in any poll for a new election.  As long as he refuses to include “the Orthodox” in his “unity” government, he cannot form a government.  Meanwhile, Likud will not dare sell out the Haredim and Bayit Yehudi and National Union — or Likud is finished, toast.  Several Likud seats are from the votes of religious nationalists who otherwise gladly would vote for Rafi Peretz (Bayit Yehudi) or Betzalel Smotrich (National Union) or Aryeh Deri (Shas) or Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), but who vote Likud to assure a maximally large lead party for the religious-nationalist bloc. 

Indeed, observe how many of Likud’s 32 Knesset members wear kipot, are Orthodox women, or at least strongly identify with the religious status quo. By contrast, Gantz will not sit with the Orthodox, and Avigdor Liberman will not sit with him if he does. Indeed, Gantz’s own Blue-White Party will splinter, with Yair Lapid puling out his Yesh Atid faction immediately. That leaves Gantz with an impossibility: If he tries a coalition with the “Joint List” Arab Party, then Liberman will not join. If with Liberman, then he gets no Arab Party and no Meretz Leftists (whatever different name they call their party each time). Gantz cannot do it. It has nothing to do with Netanyahu — and everything to do with Yair Lapid, Liberman, the Arab Parties, and the extreme Left. Again: If Likud sells out the Orthodox, then Likud is toast. Recall — the Likud could not elect a Prime Minister through Israel’s first thirty years. The turning point was when Menachem Begin connected in 1977 with a re-oriented Sefardic traditional and Orthodox political constellation.

7. Right now, on the heels of the indictments and with the Leftist Corrupt Journalist Corps of Israel hammering it home, initial surveys show majorities saying that Netanyahu should step down.  Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels. Give it a few weeks and months until the March elections.

Even with Netanyahu embattled now, Gideon Saar is polling much worse as Likud head than is Bibi. That difference will not change dramatically. Saar may be a worthy successor to Netanyahu later, but he has demonstrated incredibly impolitic and tasteless timing, choosing to demand Likud primaries at precisely the time when the Likud should be coming together. In America, in the face of the Democrats’ bald-faced hypocrisy in conducting an Impeachment Over Nothing, the Republicans have never been tighter and more united behind President Donald Trump. That is exactly the message that Saar and Likud should be sending now: We are united, and Benny Gantz will not now nor tomorrow form a government because the Likud-Religious Bloc is solid, and the bloc’s voters are interwoven in a religious-nationalist ideology.

8. Netanyahu should not step down. Liat Ben Ari should step down. The police who blackmailed Nir Hefetz should be investigated. Mandelblit’s personal biases, and the motives for his actions, should be fair to explore publicly.


Remember that Mandelblit had to overcome a High Court of Justice petition against his appointment as Attorney General, arising from his role in the Harpaz Affair. There is no question that Mandelblit should have recused himself from the Netanyahu investigations.
What impact did the Harpaz Affair, when it was Mandelblit who was being investigated for fraud and breach of trust, have on Mandelblit now? Remember that Mandelblit had to overcome a High Court of Justice petition against his appointment as Attorney General, arising from his role in the Harpaz Affair. There is no question that Mandelblit should have recused himself from the Netanyahu investigations because the Attorney General has had a cloud hanging over his head for more than five years, despite having been cleared in the Harpaz Affair, and he reasonably could anticipate that any unilateral acquittal of Netanyahu would have set the Corrupt Journalist Corps after him, reopening his role in the Harpaz Affair for another round of public consumption. Not only should he have recused, perhaps asking Liat Ben Ari for tips on vacation spots, but the whole sordid connection with the Harpaz Affair underscores why the system is so distorted by giving so much unilateral power to one person to take down a head of government, given the confluence of personal power issues that may plague that person’s psyche.

In summary: Netanyahu should stay where he is.  Saar should wait for a better day; his time will come if he does not ruin it now. The indictment reflects a police/justice system that has icludes aspects that are outrageously unprofessional and even corrupt. Democracies are not endangered but are empowered when public voices challenge corruption in the law-and-order system, refusing to hand over personal freedoms to the institutions of a Police State, ranging from the police to the justice system.

Too many bona fide legal scholars have set forth compelling reasons that the indictments never should have been handed down.  It is not Netanyahu but Gantz’s own internal cohort and other outside political realities that preclude Gantz from forming a government now or later, as long as he refuses to include the Orthodox and to maintain core centralities of Israel’s status quo on religious matters that include but are not limited to administration of the Kotel (Western Wall) and matters of marriage, divorce, and Judaic status. 

The Likud, for its own sake and long-term status as a dominant party, absolutely must not and cannot break its bloc with the religious, and any refusal by any other bloc to include the Orthodox in a “unity” coalition will — and should — assure future stalemate.

Israel was not created to be a Hebrew-speaking Portugal but a rebirth of a Judaic sovereign.




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