A Sick Country and a Black Flag

Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
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Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting on May 24, 2020.
Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting on May 24, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak

This is not our Israel. The head of the executive branch is attacking from within the halls of justice, and threatening the system, including his judges, a system to which he swore allegiance just 10 days earlier, as he prepares to be tried for breaking his earlier oath of allegiance to it.

The spectacle of Netanyahu’s “whining threat” 30 minutes before the reading of the indictment is another step by the defendant down the slippery slope of governmental chaos. Neither the right nor “the second Israel” took and gave bribes, neither of them committed fraud or breach of trust. He alone sits on the defendant’s bench and his deception and diversionary tactics will come to naught once the evidentiary stage of the proceedings gets underway.

LISTEN: Bibi’s slash-and-burn strategy puts Israel on trial

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Paranoid and obsessive, he is burning down the house in order to save himself. Pathetic, but dangerous. “I was framed,” is the familiar refrain of every gangster who finds himself in the dock. A country in which the attorney general, prosecutor Liat Ben Ari and, tomorrow, the judges’ panel, require a special security detail due to the incitement against them from Balfour Street – is a sick country. A black flag flies over the event with a final warning to each and every citizen.

Benny Gantz, Gabi Ashkenazi and company cannot keep up their deafening silence without becoming despicable accomplices of “Don Corona” and evaporating from public consciousness. Every “intimidation event” of this sort also tests the limits of what those who were appointed to protect us are willing to tolerate. Like the old joke about the whistling kettle – If you don’t put out the fire under it when it’s small, it’ll grow into a locomotive and run you over. Just ask Mendelblit.

One would expect the attorney general to immediately launch full investigations into the matters of the stocks, the false reporting to the state comptroller and the exploits of private investigator Rafi Weizman in the service of the defendant. No excuse can justify not doing so. Particularly when it appears the evidentiary stage of the trial is still six to nine months away.

One would expect the head of the Shin Bet, who has repeatedly proven his integrity, to halt yet another attempt to falsely use security considerations to promote an anti-constitutional act as we saw happen last week, before he finds himself having to cooperate in “incriminating” the defendant’s investigators or thwarting major protest events.

The Mossad chief ought to see to it that the defendant cease making wanton use of the agency’s achievements for his own self-glorification – for it also puts his people’s lives at risk. And that’s before he winds up being called upon to use the Mossad’s capabilities to obscure the traces of the crimes under investigation.

The Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, one of the best we’ve ever had, a serious fellow, ought to halt the flood of incitement against “leftists and Netanyahu opponents” on Army Radio before he is required to assess whether an aggressive push by Netanyahu for a certain operation derives from his considerations as a defendant and politician rather than from his considerations as prime minister. It’s not unheard of. And the acting police commissioner, due to the nature of his position, is exposed to pressures from the minister above him, who the law and custom say should not intervene in any investigation.

When one grasps the absolute control that he wields over his senior ministers, Netanyahu’s conflict of interest is blindingly clear. It is beyond my comprehension how the High Court could consent to the ludicrous idea that “a conflict of interest agreement may be written with the prime minister.” At the basis of the fraud and bribery charges against him there is evidence that even when such agreements were written, he never had the slightest intention of honoring them. When the necessary investigations are begun, the defendant will have to be declared to be under temporary incapacity.

Failing to do so will leave Israel to slide toward the abyss. It’s been said that all it takes in order for evil to triumph is for good people to keep silent or to be silenced. We are led by a disgraceful criminal defendant who will do anything in the name of self-preservation, who can only be stopped by renewed, if belated, determination on the part of Kahol Lavan, by the resolve of “the gatekeepers” and with the active backing of citizens who care where their country is headed.

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