Sara (And Benjamin), Enough Already

There is no social justice in the prime minister's home. Just the opposite. In his own home, the person who must be a perfect role model in word and deed behaves in a manner that makes him unfit for office.

The people demand social justice. It starts at home. Not in just any home, but in the home of the prime minister. For years we've been hearing screeching coming from this home; some of them private voices, which are of no public interest. This is the happy home of Sara and Benjamin, it's their family nest, their own God's (or Satan's ) little acre, theirs alone.

But when voices of injustice, abuse, deprivation and perhaps even labor-law violations can be heard coming from this home - make that two or three homes, for accuracy's sake - they become not just public property but also a matter that must not be ignored.

From a sea of reports and announcements, an army of doctors and aides, associates and spokesmen, reporters and analysts, rises an image that can no longer be denied. There is no social justice in the prime minister's home. Just the opposite. In his own home, the person who must be a perfect role model in word and deed behaves in a manner that makes him unfit for office.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant was disqualified from becoming Israel Defense Forces chief of staff for less than this: The land he appropriated to his property can be returned; the lost honor of the employees in the Netanyahu household cannot. After a series of housekeepers and cleaners, maids and nannies, cooks and secretaries, all of whom ended their service weeping, heartbroken and humiliated, expelled and banished, it is obvious that this is not only a pattern of unacceptable behavior. It is a true house of injustice, deserving of investigation and denunciation.

Why is it that the hiring of nearly every female domestic worker in the prime minister's home ends with lawyers? After innumerable accounts of spilled soup and thrown shoes, insults and curses; after all the lawsuits over unpaid wages, horrific work conditions, draconic demands and humiliating treatment, by now it is abundantly clear that something immoral is going on there; that the closets in the prime minister's residence, organized so perfectly by the maids who work there, conceal skeletons.

This is no longer a matter of he said, she said; Lillian Peretz the ex-housekeeper versus Dr. Zvi Herman Berkowitz the physician, who was enlisted in a ridiculous manner to defend the Netanyahu family. The Israel Hayom newspaper's ludicrous implications, according to which the nonprofit organization that came out in defense of Tara Kumari "is opposed to the occupation," will not help. Nor will the seven (or 70 ) official statements from the National Information Directorate, nor the random statements from Kiryat Shmona. When around half a dozen domestic workers come forth with astonishingly similar complaints, one after another, it is obvious there is something rotten in the kingdom.

We have already forgotten the fundamentals: A labor migrant who works in the prime minister's home, like all foreigners working in Israel, is a human being just like us, with equal rights. It is infuriating to know that the prime minister, the person who is now purportedly sensitive to the demands of the social protest and the implementation of the Trajtenberg committee's conclusions, does not hire Israeli domestic workers.

In any event, the abuse of employees in his home is intolerable. It is no longer merely an issue of Sara's caprices: Benjamin is no less responsible for what goes on in his home. What would we say were we to hear the screams of a woman being beaten coming from this home? Would an army of spokesmen and servants claim "confidentiality" in that case, too? And what happened when we turned a blind eye to the personal life of another prime minister, Menachem Begin, when he sank into a deep depression and stopped functioning? The press knew, was silent and was derelict in its duty.

The prime minister of Israel lives in a glass house, at public expense. If this basic condition does not suit him, we invite him to return to private life. Until that happens, we must know with certainty that the law, justice and morality prevail in his home. The media must evaluate that constantly and report as much as possible. It is not only their right, it is their public duty.

"Believe it, already," Peretz, the former housekeeper, pleaded Friday night. The time has come to believe her and her colleagues.

"A state of workers, not of slaves," chanted the crowds in Tel Aviv's Kikar Hamedina last night. That must include the prime minister's home, as well. Hurray Sara, hurray Bibi, keep justice in your home, or go home.