Opinion

From Today – Open Season on Mendelblit

Supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chant slogans as they demonstrate their solidarity with him outside his official residency in Jerusalem on November 21, 2019.
AFP

A number of legal experts, some of whom served in senior law enforcement positions – and whose views are light years away from those of Likud activists’ – told me that Netanyahu’s cases are not the clearest-cut cases of corruption cases in Israel’s political history.

Avichai Mendelblit knows that too, and he certainly deserves the criticism leveled at him for the long time it took him to make his decisions. But despite the foot-dragging, I’m among those who believe the delay didn’t stem from loyalty to his benefactor Netanyahu, but because of his dread over the decision and his hope that the Israeli voter would do the job for him. (Emotional difficulties, of course, are not reason enough. No one forced him to take the post).

At the same time those aforementioned legal experts, who in fact believed a certain injustice was being done to Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed that the draft indictment exposes extremely problematic moral and public behavior, to say the least, which raises questions about the future health of Israeli democracy, as long as the government is held captive by the Netanyahu family. The criminal cases, like a medical chart documenting childhood diseases, reflect Netanyahu’s evil nature: his chronic miserliness, which bound him to wealthy men who were forced to pay for his way of life; his compulsive desire to win recognition in the form of favorable media coverage; his sense of entitlement, fueled by his family’s encouragement, out of the belief that Netanyahu is a kind of modern embodiment of Moses and that they themselves are a family of blue-bloods.

That the benefits Netanyahu received aren’t actual “money envelopes,” and that the attorney general ruled out of hand the suspicion that he traded in Israel’s security in the submarines case, added fuel to the intense culture war raging in Israel, of which Netanyahu is both representative and generator. His supporters in this alliance of the self-pitying, one that has been in power for 40 years, truly believe that the all-powerful elites in Israel are carrying out a political putsch against him by legal means.

Until the last moment, Netanyahu’s supporters believed his claim that in the pre-indictment hearing, all the arguments against him would topple like a house of cards. The right, which has already leapt on State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan with its teeth bared, hesitated a little in the delegitimization of the attorney general. This process is threatening to tear apart Israeli society, which has been dragged into a governmental and civil crisis. The first expressions of this were already voiced yesterday by ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Yariv Levin, who raised doubts about Mendelblit’s judgment.

So far the right’s strategy was to treat him with kid gloves, as though he were a baby caught in the jaws of the leftist deep state. From today on, it’s open season.

Since the Netanyahu cases came into the world, the country’s senior law enforcement officials have been viewed as government opponents.

Welcome to the fray, princes of statesmanlike behavior, you who spoke against “radicals from both sides,” all of you who didn’t see the point or have the courage to take a stand on explosive issues. Today you are joining the leftists, who in the Netanyahu era have become traitors, not to mention the Arabs. Netanyahu’s incitement against the latter evokes horrifying historical comparisons. All this happened not because you took a principled stand. It happened because you dared take a stand against the Netanyahu family.

How many dramatic events does it take to get that man out of the Israeli bloodstream? Three consecutive election campaigns; three chiefs of staff and a movie star, backed by a devoted cult; three indictments, one of which – bribery – is unprecedented in its gravity regarding a prime minister. And yet, the only one who neutralized him politically was his former right-hand man, Avigdor Lieberman, and the only one close to challenging him in Likud, formerly the liveliest democratic party in Israel, is Gideon Saar. Netanyahu is sitting in the pit of the body politic, refusing to come out. Is it necessary to saw the body in half to remove him?