In the Service of His Master

Amir Ohana (L) takes a selfie with Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference, December 24, 2018
Olivier Fitoussi

Justice Minister Amir Ohana is carrying out the mission for which the prime minister appointed him: to head the incitement campaign against the state prosecution and the attorney general, just as they are preparing to decide about indictments in the criminal cases against him. Ohana was not appointed to safeguard the justice system; his public tirade was just the latest round in Benjamin Netanyahu’s fight against Israel’s law enforcement system, part of his attempt to avoid trial.

Ohana’s defamatory remarks against the state prosecution the other day could in no way be construed as honest criticism. He did not have the good of the country and the public in mind, only the good of his master, who is entangled in legal troubles.

Netanyahu’s ugly style is all too familiar. His recurrent attacks on state institutions have never been subtle. When the police launched investigations concerning his conduct, he aimed his incitement and delegitimation efforts at the police investigators, and at police commissioner Roni Alsheikh in particular. When police handed over the cases to the state prosecution with recommendations that charges be brought, Netanyahu shifted his big guns in that direction. And now he has given the order to open fire.

Netanyahu’s goal is to intimidate the law enforcement agencies while simultaneously undermining public faith in them. And all so that when judgment day arrives – if the attorney general decides to indict him – the public will question the validity of the decision and see it as an act of political persecution with no factual, legal or moral basis. Ohana’s smear campaign is an attempt to stir up the public and plant the idea of a “putsch” from within the judicial system.

With this behavior Netanyahu is abjectly betraying his position as prime minister. Netanyahu is sacrificing the systems of the state, inciting the public against state authorities and sowing general chaos in order to evade justice. Whatever the legal decisions in his cases turn out to be, they are nothing compared to the vast damage he has caused and continues to cause the nation with his attempts to escape justice.

“The law enforcement system has always acted and will continue to act without fear, in an objective and professional manner, solely for the sake of the rule of law and the public interest,” Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan said in response, thereby relaying a direct message to the team of prosecutors handing the Netanyahu cases to ignore these attacks and stick to their work.

Let us hope that they are able to do so, given that the prime minister and the ministers responsible for the justice system and the police are doing their utmost to intimidate them and disrupt their work. This disgraceful conduct by Netanyahu and his ministerial attack dogs is yet another reminder of the urgent need to replace the government.