Two Against 100

The claim made by Tzachi Hanegbi during his trial that he only did what everyone was doing is neither original nor especially noble.

Many are the surprises in a person's life, but I never dreamed of a surprise like this. The judges went a long way at my expense. We had hoped for a trial, but got instead a huge pile of dirty documents, about 900 pages in all.

Tzachi Hanegbi MK outside a Jerusalem court after his acquittal of corruption charges, July 13, 2010
Tomer Appelbaum

I needed 10 days to recover. In order to let Tzachi Hanegbi escape conviction by the skin of his teeth, they scratched around and found two political appointments of mine - I too was involved in misdeeds. The court pounced on the finding like someone who had found a treasure, relying on the testimony of a clerk who himself had been found involved in an iniquity and wanted to save his own skin.

So happy they were there with the findings that they included them for emphasis in the summary of the ruling, and even mentioned the names of those who should have been excluded from working there so as to humiliate them. How regrettable that the honorable judge forgot to summon me so as to hear my version; perhaps he would have learned that there was no truth in the charge - that it was simply a plot about two honest and excellent appointments.

But please do not confound judges with testimonies. After all, all he wanted was to build a good legal structure in order to rubber stamp 100 appointments, and found two flimsy crutches on which to rest it.

Since there is insufficient space here to say damaging things for the honorable judge to hear - the editor refused to give me several hundred pages - I shall simply say this: Even those positions that I was entitled to make appointments to, even to those I did not appoint anyone. Even the directors general and advisers I appointed were unknown to me beforehand - only their talents and experience spoke in their favor and awarded them the jobs.

The professor of Education, Ami Wolanski, who was my adviser on Higher Education, telephoned me this week and said: "We worked together but I didn't notice your political appointments." And I thought to myself that a human being looks you in the eye with his eyes while a judge looks into your heart with the musings in his heart.

But let us assume for a moment that I did indeed make two dubious appointments during four years in office, let's just assume that. Is it decent and logical to use them to purify the vermin of dozens of "tailor-made" jobs? Would they have indicted Hanegbi from the beginning for only two appointments? The honorable judge no doubt is familiar with the Supreme Court's guiding decision, according to which a single political appointment would not meet the demand of substantive harm to the integrity of a public figure, but rather that it is the "quantity that decides the quality."

The quantity too - about one third of the employees of a small ministry - does not make an impression on the court, except for one judge. And here is the proof, so the honorable judge noted, that the accused minister did not appoint more. And how many "more," it is interesting to know, would have constituted in his eyes an entire industry of appointments?

"That's what everyone does" is neither an original nor an especially noble claim. There is no scoundrel who has not tried to use it in his own defense. Prisons are full of convicts who did what everyone else did. The claim "I didn't know it was forbidden, no one told me," is also a characteristic claim made by cheats. I am trying to remember who told me.

Since they have accused me of political appointments and used me as proof, perhaps I should be sorry about my personal failure - that I did not fill the ministry with people of my own liking. I might as well have enjoyed myself.

I only regret that there are honorable judges who saw off the legs of the chairs on which they and their colleagues sit.