Opinion

The Deep State Conspiracy Theory Hits Israel

When the people around a political leader begin to talk about a 'coup attempt' by hidden forces, it’s a tactic to delegitimize opponents and muffle accusations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on December 12, 2017.
Emil Salman

It’s a well-known obsession of power-hungry political leaders that has now reached the prime minister’s people in Jerusalem. It’s called Deep State, an old and dangerous conspiracy theory. It’s similar to other conspiracy theories spread by the boisterous right à la Yair Netanyahu’s anti-Semitic cartoons, though this conspiracy theory is also fed by the absurd garbage running around the internet.

Deep State is a hidden and terrifying entity that promotes interests without taking into consideration the elected leaders at all. Prime minister? Ministers? Parties? They’re all just puppets. The real power brokers are hiding in the shadows. According to an old theory in the United States, this shadow government sits in the UN basement. According to a different theory that has been popular for a long time, these are the Elders of Zion who control the world.

Now it turns out that Israel too has a Deep State, with arms like an octopus, that’s working to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In an article in Israel Hayom, Amnon Lord wrote that the “attorney general and police commissioner are being pushed into the despicable work of carrying out a coup against the government.”

“The political-media oligarchy that has persecuted Netanyahu for 20 years is unwilling to accept its losses at the polls and is trying to force the law enforcement authorities to carry out a putsch,” Lord wrote. “Under the guise of ‘fighting corruption,’ they are trampling the will of the voter and democracy.”

The fact that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich were both appointed by Netanyahu doesn’t change anything. They are pawns in the service of the hidden oligarchy. Sometimes it’s called “the elites,” “the media” or the New Israel Fund.

In the United States, right-wing media outlets such as Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News use Deep State to prove conspiracy theories in “X-Files” style. The main claim is that this hidden entity is operating to bring down Donald Trump, and any means are acceptable: leaks, fake news and of course investigations.

Two weeks ago, a Breitbart story stated: “Now the Deep State has a name – the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Dick Morris and Eileen McGann wrote that “we now know that the FBI has been overtly biased in favor of Hillary Clinton and her associates and overly zealous in its investigation of Donald Trump and her associates.

“The G-men have gone rogue.

“In fact, recent reports suggest the FBI now serves as the command center of the Deep State, aptly housed in the J. Edgar Hoover Building. The iconic former director would undoubtedly approve of their questionable tactics.”

When you remember how just before last year’s election, the FBI pulled out the Clinton email affair again, you can only laugh. Bannon didn’t invent anything. The conspiracy theory of the state within a state has been common for years in Egypt, Turkey and Russia – all of them great examples of democracy. It’s an effective tool for repressing political opponents.

How is legitimate opposition possible to such wonderful and benign leaders as Trump, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Netanyahu? After all, the citizens are meant to admire them eternally. It’s clear that this is a conspiracy of hidden forces. That’s how a legitimate political fight is turned into a “coup” and every investigation is labeled a putsch.

Are there powerful forces working behind the scenes to influence governments around the world? Of course. But are Mendelblit, Alsheich, prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari, police investigations chief Meni Yitzhaki and their colleagues in the Netanyahu cases acting in the service of hidden forces to overthrow Netanyahu? Certainly not.

The truth is, they have no special enthusiasm for sensitive cases against top politicians. In fact, the gatekeepers aren’t effective enough. They drag their feet and find it hard to conduct investigations against the people who oversee them, especially when these people don’t recoil from making personal attacks against the officers enforcing the law.

Here’s a rule of thumb. When the people around a political leader begin to talk about a “coup attempt” by hidden forces, it’s a tactic to delegitimize their opponents and muffle accusations. People who have confidence in themselves and their actions don’t attack government bodies they're  responsible for but express confidence in them.

Such an attack is bankrupt leadership. If the prime minister derides the police, what can the lowliest of criminals say?