Editorial

It's Time for the Israeli Right to Get Out and Demonstrate

If the protests continue to spread, the public will send a clear message to its elected officials - especially Netanyahu: The corruption festival is over, Israel deserves better leaders

Demonstrators hold a sign reading 'shame' as they protest against corruption in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, Tel Aviv, Israel, December 3, 2017.
Tomer Appelbaum

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contempt for state institutions and the public is liable to cost him dearly. Even if the police issue a recommendation that he stand trial, he said recently, “So there’ll be a recommendation, so what? More than 60 percent of police recommendations end up in the trash.” But if police recommendations are so unimportant, why did he and his subordinates go crazy in an effort to pass legislation that would prevent these recommendations from being made public?

The haze of corruption surrounding Netanyahu has evidently managed to crack the political wall which had previously kept rightist voters away from the protests that began in Petah Tikva a year ago, and which recently moved to Tel Aviv. Even though many people on the right were aware of the corruption and shocked by it, until now they had refrained from attending the demonstrations because they feared the principal motive for the protests was to replace the government.

Now, however, budding opposition is evident on the right as well. This political camp has also begun to realize that what we know so far about Netanyahu’s cases, and his attempts to enact destructive laws for his personal benefit, is enough to state unequivocally that this isn’t how any public servant ought to behave, and certainly not the prime minister, even if he’s politically one of their own. The investigations of MK David Bitan, the person who, until Wednesday, served as coalition whip and ran the governing coalition with an iron fist, have also contributed to the mood of disgust.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, a religious Zionist, was the pioneer when he decided to participate in the demonstration on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard last Saturday night. This week, it was Yoaz Hendel, a former Netanyahu spokesman, who wrote, “The war against corruption must not be the province of the opposition only,” and announced that he was organizing a demonstration this Saturday night in Jerusalem’s Zion Square. Likud MKs Yehudah Glick and Oren Hazan, Kulanu MKs Rachel Azaria and Roy Folkman and former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) have also all said they will join the protest.

Fighting corruption is a supreme value for any democratic country, an interest shared by leftists and rightists alike. If the protests continue to spread, with tens and then hundreds of thousands of demonstrators from both left and right flocking to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the public will thereby send a clear message to its elected officials in general and the prime minister in particular: The festival of corruption is over; Israel deserves a much better leadership.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel