Sara Netanyahu's Lawyer Had an Unfortunate Moment of Honesty

How the Netanyahus run their homes is important, but the media should be paying attention to serious improprieties in another realm.

Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu, in 2015.
Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO

Sometimes, like the monster in Loch Ness, madness rears its ugly head in a moment of distraction and is revealed to curious eyes – only to disappear again.

Much that sort of thing happened during on a current events show on Channel 10 one morning last week, when Sara Netanyahu’s lawyer, Yossi Cohen, was defending the prime minister’s wife. His statement followed news that the police recommended indicting her for irregularities in the running of the prime minister’s households.

We don’t need to elaborate all the allegations yet again, from “Bottlegate” to a live-in caregiver at the taxpayer’s expense for Sara Netanyahu’s father, to weaknesses for ice cream. The story about how the prime minister’s residences are run does matter, but the media attention to it is partly based on reluctance to deal with the issue of massive corruption in the legal realm – i.e., how the government enacts, or preserves, regulations that protect interest groups.

Anyway, the really interesting part of Cohen’s interview was when he suddenly blurted this: “We have a prime minister who’s straight as an arrow – millions didn’t land in the bank accounts of his children.”

Oops.

What did Cohen mean when he said “millions didn’t land in the bank accounts of his children?”

To the best of our recollection, there were exactly two famous politicians whose children had millions in their bank accounts, according to the police.

More than a decade ago, millions of dollars were found to have been transferred to Gilad Sharon, son of Ariel Sharon, for bizarre “agricultural consulting” services, in Russia and on a Greek island, which had absolutely no economic rationale. But Ariel Sharon died after eight years in a coma, and his children have long disappeared from the public arena.

The other politician in whose child’s bank account millions were found is still alive and kicking. This is, of course, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The attorney general decided to close the case against him even though a 90-page report revealed a sprawling, bizarre and alarming network of companies, accounts, witnesses who disappeared and millions that went to Lieberman, his daughter and his driver.

And here we have no less a personality than the Netanyahu family’s own lawyer using this example to demonstrate probity – what is corruption and what is straight as an arrow (the Hebrew idiom is, ironically enough, “straight as a ruler”).

In other words, in a moment of distraction, Cohen wasn’t thinking about Lieberman, the man recently named to the Defense Ministry, and a member of the coalition – and Cohen evidently wasn’t considering the fact that it was his own client, Netanyahu, who appointed Lieberman.

We have been through Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Abraham Hirchson and now we have Lieberman. It seems that millions in the kids’ bank accounts, or other signs suggesting that corruption may exist, become intangibles when it is politically convenient.