Without denying or minimizing the presumption of innocence that stands in the defense of Knesset member Oren Hazan (Likud), we must admit that the suspicious signs concerning him came to light back during the recent election campaign.
- Report: Deputy Knesset speaker solicited prostitutes, used hard drugs
- Amid damning reports, deputy Knesset speaker barred from chairing plenum session
- Herzog agrees not to use Hazan scandal to bring down government
We all remember his humorous calling card from the Likud primaries: A humorous clip that went viral, in which his father, the former MK Yehiel Hazan who is remembered for the worst, played the role of the Godfather, Don Vito Corleone. He sends his son off to the parliament in order for him to “erase the injustice” done to his father in the double voting affair and the theft of the voting equipment.
When those are your values, when that is your mentality and those are the people you imitate in the Hazan family - it is no wonder that after the fact we are discovering that some of the acts attributed to the younger Hazan in the Channel 2 investigation definitely correspond to those matters of interest and business of the figure played by actor Marlon Brando in the classic mafia film.
There is no doubt that he has fulfilled his father’s wishes. Hazan Junior has done excellent work. He has truly erased the shame. The son has surpassed his father, his teacher, by multitudes. Since what is stealing a computer board from a Knesset storeroom compared to the claims of alleged pimping, heavy drugs and supposedly alleged extortion.
This last allegation was raised on Tuesday by a senior official in the office of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. Supposedly, Hazan threatened, in a telephone conversation with one of Edelstein’s aides, that he would “look for stories about Edelstein” and publish them. That came in response to the obvious, justified and quick decision by Edelstein to suspend Hazan immediately from chairing Knesset sessions.
Instead of the young Knesset member looking for a new job, or alternatively apologizing and asking for forgiveness - and admitting he made a mistake in his younger days - with rare talent he poured fuel on the fire surrounding him. His vulgar behavior, embarrassing haggling and protesting, which included insistent and seemingly false denials, only deepened the pit he is stuck in.
The reporter from Channel 2, Amit Segal, exposed more documents Tuesday, which show that Hazan was in fact the CEO and partner in the casino in Burgas, Bulgaria - and not as he claimed just the manager of the nearby hotel, whose name he didn’t even remember. It turns out that what happens in Bulgaria does not stay in Bulgaria.
Managing a casino in its own right is not a criminal offense. Pimping is. The testimony of the women and the driver who drove the women to their destinations sounded credible and lacking ulterior motives. After all, what interest do these poor people have in making up a blood libel about some Israeli legislator and public figure?
Add to this the report broadcast last evening on the Mabat news show on Channel 1, which claimed officials approached the Knesset speaker after the recent election on behalf of the Bulgarian government, and asked him to keep Hazan from handling any matters concerning their country. In other words, not to appoint him - God forbid - as head of the Israel-Bulgaria parliamentary friendship association. With friends such as these, who needs enemies? Later on Tuesday evening, official sources in the Knesset said that it was not the Bulgarian government who made the request, but the head of the friendship association. It seems he knows very well about the young man’s activities.
Hazan’s chutzpah knows no limits. In his first response that was released Monday night, he claimed the “media” is unable to accept the “victory of Likud and Prime Minister [Netanyahu] in the elections,” and that is the reason and motive, he says, for the investigations against him. In this way, with these very words, he has determined that “Likud and the prime minister” are the very same as Oren Hazan, and he is one with Likud and the prime minister.
Until Tuesday evening, no announcement had been made on the affair on behalf of Likud and Netanyahu about the claims made against the member of his party, and who Netanyahu had appointed - out of a lack of choice and against his wishes - as a member of the most important and sensitive Knesset committees as well as a deputy Knesset speaker.
It seems Netanyahu is afraid to anger the 61st Knesset member in his coalition. Luckily, the leader of the opposition, MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union), came to his aid and announced that in the short term he will offset Hazan’s votes and not allow him to take revenge on the government by voting which way or another in the Knesset.
Herzog made the right decision (and suffered severely for it from the member of his own party MK Shelly Yacimovich) – but it is extremely doubtful whether his counterpart from Likud would have acted in a similar fashion if the situation was reversed.