I Feel No Pity for Netanyahu's Former Aide

Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler
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Haaretz cartoon
Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler

On Nir Hefetz: I didn’t fall off my chair when I heard Hefetz’s description of his harsh jail conditions. He talked about a cell full of garbage, about fleas that bit him, about meager, insufficient food, about stolen sleeping hours and threats that his family would be destroyed, and his children wouldn’t talk to him.

So first, why believe every detail he mentions? Clearly, it’s in his interest to portray himself as one who hadn’t wanted to turn state’s evidence, and only the “horrors” of the incarceration led him to do so. Hefetz is trying to save his image among Bibi’s supporters, so his words should be taken with a grain of salt.

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Another reason I didn’t shed a tear for Hefetz is because I don’t admire a man who spits into the well he used to drink from. Hefetz rose, thrived, profited and made a great living thanks to Benjamin Netanyahu. Now he’s betraying him because he wanted to avoid a criminal trial. This is not an act that deserves applause.

However, it’s clear he was interrogated aggressively, and that interrogation tricks had been used. At the same time, though, it’s obvious that if the police had provided him with hotel conditions and used no pressure or tricks, he would never have become a state witness. It’s also worth noting that despite his dramatic descriptions, Hefetz did see a doctor and did receive legal consultation during his detention. He signed the state’s evidence agreement after the pressure had been lifted, so there’s no chance the court will disqualify his testimony.

On Matan Kahana: Due to threats to his life – including the religious edict din rodef, which sanctions killing a person who represents a mortal threat – the Shin Bet has assigned a bodyguard for Matan Kahana, the minister of religious services.

The anger at Kahana in ultra-Orthodox circles is huge. His liberal approach drives them mad, but the main anger stems from money interests. His reforms in kashrut and conversion to Judaism will take the power and the money out of the religious councils, which are controlled by Shas. They will no longer be able to appoint thousands of kashrut observers, religious judges, clerks and secretaries, and that’s livelihood, big money and a great deal of power.

That’s why Kahana’s life is under threat. That’s why the threats must be taken very seriously, because a din rodef hasn’t been put out against any other politician since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

On low-price cheese: This isn’t the great reform in the dairy market we’ve been waiting for. The industry’s monopoly will remain intact and the “milk council” will continue to set production quantities and the price of raw milk. But still, it’s a step in the right direction. Revoking the customs and increasing the quotas will inevitably lead to lowered prices, increasing the variety and streamlining the dairy industry.

On the plane: The process of licensing the prime minister’s plane was completed this week, and it’s ready to fly Naftali Bennett anywhere he wants. But it’s not certain this is what Bennett wants.

The idea was Bibi’s. He wanted a plane of his own, like the President of the United States has. First class in El Al with all the perks wasn’t good enough for him. In 2014, he forced the ministers to vote for this madness, despite the Finance Ministry budget division’s negative opinion. Indeed, the plane’s budget, originally 278 million shekels ($90 million), has now climbed to about 900 million shekels. It’s also clear that the aircraft’s maintenance will be horrifically expensive. It will fly only two months a year, a place will be allocated for it in the Nevatim base, and it will be assigned a special manager with a work crew.

Even El Al has put the obsolete plane – a 25-year-old Boeing 767 – out of use. Its instruments are outdated and pilots will have to undergo special training to operate it. Yair Lapid doesn’t want it. He said that when the time comes he’d sell it and fly El Al. Bennett should beat him to it.

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