Israelis Can't Rely on Their Leaders to Clean Up Corruption

The public has the political power to punish those who created the system and what it has produced, and must act accordingly.

There is a choking stench in the comments of Eldad Yaniv to Haaretz reporter Gidi Weitz that appeared in the magazine. Yaniv, as he states it, was part of a political mafia that can extract favors, do damage to the rule of law and threaten rivals. It is also adept at arranging promotions for those who have been loyal, particularly to its own group interests, and to concoct political plans and strategies that don't necessarily serve the national interest.

The Israeli system of government is no less pristine than the way other democratic governments function. The work of lobbyists who are adept at playing the rules of the game when it comes to the link between money, government and the media is not an Israeli invention, and it is also not Yaniv's invention. If there is anything new here, it is the meaninglessness of the term "the rules of the game."

Attorney Eldad Yaniv, Yuval Tebol, Nov. 2010
Yuval Tebol

According to Yaniv, the limits have been stretched by people like him to unknown extremes, in the service of people who portray themselves as elected officials and who cloak themselves in impressive ideologies, certain that their personal interests and the public interest are inherently the same.

There have been similar accounts in the past from people who, upon quitting public life, have sought to come clean through repentance. People in positions of power have engaged in mudslinging at their opponents, and when they've decided to quit the game, they say the system is at fault.

Yaniv, too, attacks the system and says he has asked for forgiveness from his victims. The criticism over Yaniv's conduct, however, does not dispense with the need to draw broader lessons from all this. It is all too easy to shrug one's shoulders and blame the system - as if without the bands of lobbyists and influence peddlers, the situation would necessarily be better. Alternately, it would be naive to believe that the political rot in a system that knows no other way of doing things can be excised all at once.

The public cannot expect that, of all people, its representatives - who benefit from the system and have worked to curtail the power of the High Court of Justice to interfere with what they do; who view the state prosecutor's office as the enemy; and the police as hunting dogs - will be the ones to clean things up. On the other hand, the public has the political power to punish those who created the system and what it has produced, and must act accordingly.

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