Opinion |

The Arab World Exists Without Corruption

Why? Because the ruler is also the rich owner.

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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An illustration showing Netanyahu and his lawyer Shimron in a submarine.
Illustration. Credit: Amos Biderman
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

When my friend saw me deep in thought, he asked, “What are you writing about this week?” “On the submarines being bought right, left and center,” I told him. “After all, this is the talk in every living room and kindergarten in Israel at present.”

“And as who will you write it?” asked my friend in a mocking tone, which was hard to miss. “As an admiral in the navy of the Jewish state?”

“As a citizen of the country,” I retorted, irritated.

Suddenly my friend got serious. “You can be a citizen in almost everything here, but in military matters you have no say. And why? I was astonished, because every argument here hinges on the question of how to bring order to weapons purchases. If not a submarine, then a fighter jet. And if not submarines and fighter planes, then smart bombs.”

“I didn’t think about that,” I said. “I thought about the moral aspect of the matter. On how the person representing the seller of the submarines also represents those intending to buy them.”

“And if there is not a conflict of interest,” my friend smiled triumphantly, “we will receive Adidas shoes at a discount instead of submarines. At worst, we will receive the submarines at a reasonable price, and with the difference in the prices we will buy a few more missiles,” he added.

With barely suppressed anger I continued, “And in the vile weapons market, your honor marches on proudly. And that is how, between bombs and mortars, you exercise your Israeliness.”

I was embarrassed by how much the cleaning of the stables of the weapons market had enraged me. And my friend, as if he wanted to spread salt on the wound, said, “All selling of weapons is an immoral matter; now go and impose morality in a den of wolves.”

When my friend freed me of his heavy moral presence, I thought warmly about our wonderful Arab world. There, the duplicity that exists here is not present: To be nice at home, and at the same time impose oppression in other people’s backyards.

The entire Arab world lives without corruption. Why? Because the ruler is also the rich owner. And when power and money are found on the same side, you do not see such embarrassing scenes as envelopes filled with dollars, or flights at the expense of the wealthy, or $600 dry cleaning bills in London – as alleged by the 2008 Channel 10 investigative report by Raviv Drucker on the Netanyahu family.

Would the Saudi king ask to hitch a ride on the transatlantic flight of some tycoon? You make even Nicolas Sarkozy laugh – and the former president of France was alleged to have received millions from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.

In the Arab world, for example, David Shimron – Netanyahu’s relative and his family lawyer – could represent both the king and the weapons companies selling to the king. That’s even better: after all, if a problem arises, they will not need the courts. In just one meeting in the salon of the ruler’s palace, you could settle the matter. Benjamin Netanyahu must be jealous.

To be fair, we should say that it is not just Netanyahu. The world has come a long way in uniting money and power. Here is the Turkish sultan, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, doing whatever he wants in his kingdom, all while his family and cronies rule the Turkish economy. Russian President Vladimir Putin is already being called “Abu Ali,” and he has a palace that kings can only dream about. And the president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, who according to reports paid no income tax for 20 years, is anointing his children and son-in-law in the White House.

The world is becoming more Arab, what can you do?

Nevertheless, it is now necessary to deal with the urgent problem that is keeping so many busy on Facebook: where will the submarines Netanyahu is so keen to buy anchor? After all, with all these submarines, there is no longer any room to swim.

I propose a modest anchorage in the Kfar Baruch lake, in the Jezreel Valley. Instead of the planned airport, which has made local residents lose sleep, we’ll have a great submarine instead.

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