This time, the burden of proof is not on the police or the prosecution; it is Avigdor Lieberman who must prove to the public that the cloud of suspicion that envelops him from head to toe is false. The police have already recommended indicting him on serious charges - from taking bribes to money laundering, from fraud to witness tampering. Were there such a thing as a court of public opinion in this country, there would be no need for a real court.
And if he cannot prove the allegations false, at least he might take the trouble to explain. For instance: How did it happen that his daughter - however gifted she might be - has amassed millions of shekels as a consultant, even though at 21, she is not yet known as an expert in any field? It's a riddle. Will it remain a riddle?
Lieberman accuses the law-enforcement agencies of justice delayed, of an investigation that goes on and on without end. But it never will end as long as he keeps obstructing it. And on Tuesday, what appears to be the mother of all obstructions came to light.
Who knows better than Lieberman, a violent and aggressive man, that offense is the best defense? For years, he has been assailing his investigators - making them objects of suspicion and contempt and systematically harassing them. And he has already forced some of the best investigators to leave prematurely, against their will. While he is still deputy prime minister and foreign minister, they are already gone.
He has been in Israel for 32 years and in politics for almost 20, but he still pretends to represent new immigrants, to thwart governmental edicts that would hurt them. During his campaign, he promised his voters the moon and the stars. But all he has given them is dirt. He rants and raves over his personal concerns, but has yet to utter a peep over the humiliating conversion process and draconian marriage laws that he promised to change. He has repeatedly violated the civil union he forged with his voters, while hundreds of thousands of immigrants - those he is supposed to represent - continue to be miserable.
If you cannot remember all the different posts he has held, it's not your fault. He has been director general of the Prime Minister's Office, national infrastructure minister, transportation minister and strategic affairs minister - but not really. Nobody remembers these jobs because there is nothing to remember. There is no achievement that can be attributed to him. He has done nothing for the country. But for his own family, he has done wonders.
What is he remembered for? For his repeated verbal attacks on judges, policemen and prosecutors, aimed at intimidating them. He has done even more to undermine the foundations of the law and its institutions than attorney Uri Corb - and the justice minister, to whom Lieberman is both patron and ally, should take note.
He is also remembered for the strife and hatred he has fomented among all of Israel's different population groups: between immigrants and natives, between left and right, between religious and secular, and especially between Jews and Arabs - whose elected representatives he has proposed executing the way Nazi leaders were executed after the Nuremberg trials. There isn't a type of schism he hasn't tried to create or incitement he hasn't tried to foment.
Nor has he kept his hatred solely for his rivals at home; he has also lavished it on rivals and enemies abroad. There is not a Muslim leader in the region whom he has not humiliated at some point. He has also hurled insults as far away as Scandinavia, and many points in between. There is not a politician in the world who actually wants to meet with him; the only ones who do so are those compelled by protocol. Only with Belarus has he tightened our relations - the last dictatorship in Europe, headed by the madman Alexander Lukashenko. And this is the man whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to carry Israel's message to the world. This is how we are "explaining" Israel.
Israelis also remember that he brought many MKs into the Knesset who had neither higher education nor fame nor a word to say for themselves - for only Lieberman's word matters. Were they not toadies, they would never have earned his favor.
And perhaps people recall his conviction for assaulting and threatening a child. He was fined, and the court stated: "The defendant's acts were not minor in nature. This was not a single, isolated act stemming from a spontaneous reaction, but a series of acts committed over time."
Lieberman will be remembered as a disgrace due to the evil spirit he has introduced into Israel, our home, ever since his star rose. Even his party's name was stolen, and he has taken it vain.
Yet the country's leaders remain silent. It is very puzzling. Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, who had no problem assailing Ehud Olmert, have not a word to say against Lieberman. Yet Olmert is suspected of taking tens of thousands of shekels, and Lieberman of millions. Olmert is suspected of taking envelopes full of cash, and Lieberman of whole cartons.
All of a sudden, when it was convenient for them, the premier and defense ministers discovered the presumption of innocence. Or perhaps they discovered that one crime leads to - and exposes - another. And why should they tempt fate?
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