The Netanyahu Crime Syndicate's Open Season on the Legal System

Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav
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Anti-Netanyahu protesters gathering around his official residence in Jerusalem, August 2020.
Anti-Netanyahu protesters gathering around his official residence in Jerusalem, August 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav

To understand what the crime syndicate that has taken over this country is after, one must first understand the goals of the man who leads it. The criminal defendant bunkered down in Balfour Street has three goals: to remain prime minister, to cancel his trial and to prevent the truth from coming out about the so-called steel shares and submarines affairs (which could result in charges that are much more serious than those in his current trial).

It’s important to understand: As a prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has been exposed as a terrible manager, who is capricious and has lost control of the situation. His actions in the past few months lack all strategic logic, but as the head of a crime organization he knows exactly what he’s doing. A multifarious machine, fully focused on achieving the goals, has been activated.

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Three key figures have been targeted: the prosecutor in his trial, Deputy State Prosecutor Liat Ben Ari; Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and Supreme Court President Esther Hayut. Brutal incitement to violence against them is occurring on the street, on the internet and in the group chats of pro-Netanyahu activists.

Concurrently, the three are subject to threats and massive pressure from media figures and outlets, some of them in Netanyahu’s pocket, using ostensibly legitimate tools of journalism. Erel Segal, to whom Netanyahu once offered a reserved slot on Likud’s Knesset slate, set his sights on Ben Ari. He devotes his daily propaganda program on Radio 103 FM to obsessive coverage of “building violations” at Ben-Ari’s home and “irregularities” in the way a different apartment she owns was split into smaller units. Mendelblit is handled by Yaakov Bardugo, who was parachuted into Army Radio by Netanyahu as a leading host and commentator. Bardugo, like Segal, writes opinions in the Netanyahu mouthpiece Yisrael Hayom. There and on Army Radio, Bardugo wages a campaign against law enforcement agencies, calling on Mendelblit to step down.

For now, Hayut is the responsibility of Kalman Liebskind. Netanyahu often shares and retweets his comments. He has even quoted from Liebskind’s criticism of the anti-Netanyahu protests and media coverage of them in his statement before the weekly cabinet meeting. Netanyahu calls Liebskind “Kalman,” as if he were a family member. Why Hayut? What threat does she pose, after leading a panel of 11 justices that decided unanimously not to bar Netanyahu from forming a government?

For two reasons. First, the issue of Netanyahu’s proposed incapacitation due to his trial, which will certainly reach the High Court of Justice. Second, the petition, already filed, demanding a reopening of the submarine investigation. Liebskind is searching desperately for any conflict of interest Hayut may have. Concurrently, activists are sent to demonstrate near the homes of Hayut and Ben Ari. In both places, signs with inciting messages share space with posters of Netanyahu.

The goal is to terrorize Ben Ari, Mendelblit and Hayut, to disrupt their lives and create a climate that could lead to attempts to hurt them or their families. Ben Ari is under very tight security, and she was recently assigned threat level 4 (the highest is 6). The benefactor of this madness, meanwhile, dares to complain about threats and incitement against him and his family. Just as Segal, Bardugo and Liebskind whine at being called “mouthpieces.”

In his remaining time, Netanyahu is dragging Israel toward a fourth election, in order to avoid carrying out his rotation agreement with Benny Gantz and with the aim of forming a “criminal immunity” government. He is already deep into his campaign (interviews with his private TV channel, visits to produce or falafel stalls). To achieve victory, like every populist leader throughout history he wages an incitement campaign against the usual enemies of the state: “the rule of the civil service,” the “leftist media,” “the opposition fights the government while the government fights the pandemic.” His opponents are “treasonous leftists,” “anarchists,” “germ incubators.” There is no greater danger to Israel than this man.

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