Opinion |

The Bibi Graft Cases: The Same Old Israeli Arrogance

Netanyahu is trying to turn the perpetrator into the victim, akin to the Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office September 26, 2017
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office September 26, 2017Credit: \ POOL/ REUTERS
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

February 13, 2018 will be engraved in the chronicles of the State of Israel as the day a new world order finally came into being. Morning became evening and the sun came out in the middle of the night. That evening anyone who was anyone was ready for the national purifying ceremony. The sinner was brought shackled onto the lit-up stage in the town square, and the torch bearers of justice surged in droves. We have come to banish the darkness.

But at the set hour, the unbelievable happened: The sinner climbed up, pushed away his guards and began his speech of admonishment. And Mr. Prime Minister, if I were one of your defense attorneys, I wouldn’t hesitate to compare the occasion last week to one that happened over a hundred years ago, when Alfred Dreyfus ascended from the lowest levels of the hell he had been cast into, on the wings of Emile Zola’s “J’accuse!”

Instead of Benjamin Netanyahu, out of shame, finding a dark corner to sit in so no one would notice him, instead of releasing some statement as form requires, he leapt to the podium, snatched the microphone and broke into a patriotic speech that wouldn’t embarrass the world’s greatest leaders. The resurrection of Winston Churchill.

After this nightmarish performance, a question kept bludgeoning me in the head: From where in God’s name do I recognize this arrogance? After all, I know this trick quite well: how to turn black into white, a crime into heroism and the victim into the murderer. Yes, I know it from both up close and far away.

And then I remembered. After all, that’s what all those rabbis, lawmakers, ministers and leaders of political movements do time after time. They turn the world upside down to whitewash some unauthorized outpost in the occupied territories, which is entirely theft and exploitation. Usually the thieves remain where they are, on land that doesn’t belong to them, or at worst they move somewhere nearby. The theft from Palestinians, the construction and planning and legal stratagems – at the expense of Israel’s citizens.

Yes, this is the arrogance whose beginning stemmed in the approach to hundreds of thousands of uprooted residents of the country, whose land was stolen by the power of immoral law, while the “gifts” of land – which unlike the gifts from billionaire Arnon Milchan were given without the owners’ permission – were showered on citizens of the brother nation, the Jewish people.

And after that, any complaint, protest or attempt by the uprooted to act for the return of their land was considered a revolt that must be put down. It’s just the way all the criticism of Netanyahu – all he allegedly did was put a million shekels in his pocket (which he didn’t even notice, as one of his defenders has said) – is ruining his mission, saving the Zionist enterprise.

The statements from the right on the matter, both the right in power and the right in the opposition, look somewhere between garbled and ridiculous. Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who has been conducting an all-out war against Netanyahu over everything concerning Israel’s acquisition of German submarines, said that “the border is marked by the plow’s furrow.”

And Ya’alon wants to house another million Jews in the occupied territories when it’s clear that only the stealing of land will guarantee them room. In his mind’s eye, Ya’alon sees innocent land thieves who at the end of their patriotic work of theft sit in the dining room and unpretentiously share the pita, olives and glass of milk that the kibbutz allows them.

Anyone who thinks that with Netanyahu’s resignation or his removal from office the corruption will end is living in a fantasy world. The opinion polls also tell a different story. In the United States, Donald Trump drops in the polls amid every affair that crops up. In Israel, Netanyahu has preserved his position at the head of the pack even after the police recommendations against him.

The moral foundations are shaky here because as the Arabic saying goes, “The magic rebelled against the magician.” It’s impossible to continue this way, stealing Palestinian land while keeping your hands clean when it comes to the Jews. The principles of theft, which begin with Arabs, very quickly spill over toward the Jews. This is a law of nature unrelated to the integrity of the “decent” people here who call for moral theft.

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