Opinion |

The Eternally Persecuted Netanyahu v. the State of Israel

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
Netanyahu looks on before the start of a hearing in his corruption trial at Jerusalem's District Court on Monday
Netanyahu looks on before the start of a hearing in his corruption trial at Jerusalem's District Court on MondayCredit: POOL/ REUTERS
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

On Monday, the State of Israel went on trial. It appeared in court as the defendant, facing chief prosecutor Benjamin Netanyahu. The indictment is serious and even frightening. It’s suspected of trying to frame an incumbent prime minister, violations of evidence laws, falsifying and misrepresenting an indictment and plotting to intervene in a national election in a way that could undermine the prosecutor’s constitutional rights and the chance of his being elected.

The prime minister added other counts, that while not part of the formal indictment against the state, could have great influence on the results of its trial. He mentioned its refusal to get vaccinated, its wild breaches of the lockdown, the unreasonable pressure from business owners and hundreds of thousands of unemployed, as part of an electioneering campaign targeting him directly.

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The evidence is not in dispute. His partners in government, that fifth column that he, in his generosity, took to his bosom, have been revealed to be murderers who are prepared to kill thousands of people just to undercut his ability to manage the country. If not for them, those who are hastening to open stores to spite him, the country would have been in much better shape, and its citizens, happy.

The state that forced him to give up on immunity when it refused to legislate the “French law,” is responsible for the shameful sight of a sitting prime minister having to stand trial. The state itself is thus ruining its own good name, and directly harming its standing and security. If the state were really interested in eliminating what it calls “corruption,” it wouldn’t have waited so long to prosecute him and it would have added to the pile of cases the submarine affair and the allegedly improper profits the prime minister made from shares he allegedly received as a gift.

If the state were really serious about its intentions, it wouldn’t have allowed him to run in three elections, waste billions of shekels on electioneering, delay the passage of the state budget and pay bribes to its citizens. How come it suddenly woke up, in the run-up to the fourth election? What is this if not ongoing delayed justice? Even worse, with its negligent behavior, the state made clear to the prime minister that his deeds were not violations of the law, and now, to shirk blame and responsibility, it’s pouncing on him and blaming him for all its ills. Its goal is transparent – it’s looking for a scapegoat. Now it will also argue that a prime minister busy with his trial can’t manage the country. This cruel state wants to murder and also inherit.

Any other prime minister would surely be trembling from this persecution and would have fled someplace safe. What prime minister would agree to continue to serve a country that’s pursuing him, that seeks to take revenge on him and his family, that takes pleasure in tarring and feathering him? A country that in this fashion repays the leader who brings it peace with Arab states, obtains millions of vaccines for its citizens when the leaders of other, enlightened countries that speak English and French are scrounging for syringes like drug addicts, and who every few months gives billions of shekels to the entire populace, isn’t worthy of such a leader.

But Netanyahu is a different, rare kind of prime minister. He isn’t looking for personal or political gain. Did Moses abandon his mission when the people turned their backs on him? Of course not. He simply replaced the people. True, that took 40 years, but if that’s what it takes, then there’s no choice.

A fair country would have already resigned all its posts, and honest citizens would be asking forgiveness for the injustice done to the man. But since this isn’t expected to happen, there is no choice but to continue prosecuting the state – which will certainly appeal and kick and shout until there is a final verdict. It has only one lifeline left, a last act of charity that it can do for itself and that would express true contrition: Vote for Netanyahu on March 23, and hope that he’ll agree to remain at the helm.

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