Avi Shamir

Bibi’s Trial: Case 5000

“A prime minister neck deep in investigations has no moral or public mandate to make fateful decisions for the State of Israel. There is a fear, I must say, and it is real and not unfounded, that he will make his decisions based on his personal interest for political survival, not on the national interest.”
– Bibi Netanyahu on former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008.

One wonders if Bibi meant what he said, and not just for unseating political rivals. Taking into account that a high-profile police investigation of Bibi’s suspicious activities started all the way back in December 2016, he certainly doesn’t practice what he preaches. Now, still hanging on to power long after he was indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in November 2019, Bibi’s refusal to step down begs for further investigation of his shady ways.

I submit for public review: the State of Israel vs. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Case 5000.

Disclaimer: I will leave the legality of the case detailed hereunder to the law experts. As an Israeli citizen who participates in national elections, I’ll leave the substance of this case to the considered opinion of the nation’s true judges, those who exercise their right to vote.

The timeframe is 2019-2021, which started with a political deadlock and stretched out over four elections without conclusive results. A period that signaled a deviation from the norms of democratic rule, an ongoing state of emergency stressed by a mismanaged pandemic and culminating in another avoidable war, all of which have served the interests of just one man: Prime Minister/ criminal suspect Bibi Netanyahu.

Under Case 5000, Netanyahu should be charged with the offences recorded hereunder:

– Enabling successive “transitional governments” to go through the motions with total dysfunction; relegating his cabinet and party members to lackeys; allowing continuous makeshift terms in office to run their courses without a budget. On a national scale, the lack of a budget framework goes hand in hand with lack of interest in various underprivileged sectors of society. These include: minorities living in the Israeli periphery, needy families, single mothers, the handicapped, special education children and youth at risk, who in normal times rely on charity and receive limited government support. Other groups that were hard hit by the indiffernce of Israeli officialdom also merit recognition: Israeli Arabs in need of basic police protection in their crime ridden cities, IDF combat veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and young Israeli couples who don’t stand a chance of buying an affordable home.

– Allowing an odious brand of fascism to take root behind the fig leaf of the “only democracy in the Middle East.” This was manifested in different ways: Justice Minister Amir Ohana shutting down the courts shortly before Bibi’s trial, which coincided with the first wave of Covid-19 in Israel; Ohana again, then Minister of Public Security, unleashing policemen with malicious tendencies against peaceful protestors in rallies that called for government transparency; misreporting police brutality at Balfour and other protest grounds in the so-called mainstream media, which has become “influenced” by Bibi’s various governments over twelve years; Bibi turning the delayed opening date of his trial into a courthouse circus, during which he denounced his accusers and prosecutors while surrounded by his masked cabinet members and hailed by screaming fanatics in the street. This Kafkaesque show may pass the test of legality in a democracy without a constitution, but it reeks of creeping fascism.

– Acting out of self-interest at the expense of the national interest. Bibi’s own argument against his predecessor turned on its head. On separate occasions, Bibi’s top priorities to preserve his political standing and stay out of court were executed with a perfectly timed “coincidental” state of emergency. The first crisis was the arrival of Covid. Everyone knew it was coming our way before the March 2020 elections. Ten days after the elections, Bibi was publicly pleading with Benny Gantz to join forces with him, “without trickim and shtikim,” in an “emergency government.” In the meantime, the health hazard was getting out of control. Rather than take precautionary measures such as putting returning Israeli world travelers into quarantine, health officials permitted the arrivals to pass through the airport, take the train home and spread the virus along the way. Hence, the first of three Ben Gurion Airport “oversights,” each coinciding with a wave of the pandemic under Bibi’s watch. As if there’s a sign hanging at the airport that reads “Israel welcomes carriers of the coronavirus.” The miraculous effect of Covid on Bibi’s political survival is a matter of record: Bibi stayed in power and managed to delay his court case for long months. In spite of his broken promises to Gantz to pass a 2020-21 budget, preferential treatment for his haredi supporters, disregard for crisis management advisors and severe economic fallout, he still managed to secure thirty mandates in the most recent elections. But having earned the mistrust of his former allies Naftali Bennett, Gideon Sa’ar and Avigdor Lieberman, he still can’t form a government.

– Bibi’s worse nightmare, watching from the sidelines as his old cronies were poised to form a unity government with Yair Lapid, set the stage for a second count of “Acting out of self-interest at the expense of the national interest.” The current Israel-Hamas conflict, with all the danger it poses to Israeli citizens from Sderot to Tel-Aviv, is a lifeline for Bibi. Just as it seemed that his political career was looking like a train wreck, exchanges of provocation between Jewish and Palestinian extremists presented another opportune “emergency.” Bibi, once again proving that timing is everything, gave a nod and a wink to Israeli police to show up at the Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, a sure spark for an explosion. First came the Hamas rockets, followed by the IDF response. The political dividend came a few days later, as Bennett defected from Lapid’s Change Block and resumed talks with the Likud. At the time of this writing, with IDF achievements on the rise and a cease fire on the horizon, Bibi has a familiar smirk on his face, like he just “delivered” the Pfizer vaccine… But in all fairness, Hamas also stood to gain and acted out of self-interest. With the possible formation of an Israeli government that would rely on Israeli-Arab support, Hamas terrorists must have felt that they were becoming irrelevant. Bibi has long faced the eventuality of his own decline and may have seen the handwriting on the wall. This commonality partially explains why rightwing hardliner Avigdor Lieberman recently called Bibi a “Hamas collaborator.”

Did I mention Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Justice? I will leave the legal language to the experts, if something like Case 5000 ever sees the light of day through a courtroom window. In truth, the cases against Bibi that got him indicted, not to mention over 300 witnesses lined up to testify against him, are enough to keep the High Court busy for years to come.

In the meantime, caring citizens of Israel have a job to do: Encourage Lapid, Saar and all wavering politicians in the still promising Change Block to give our country a chance for new life under a normal government.

About the Author
Avi Shamir is a freelance writer, editor, translator and the author of "Saving the Game," a novel about baseball. A Brooklyn College graduate with a BA in English, Avi has contributed to the Jerusalem Post, The Nation, Israel Scene, In English and The World Zionist Press Service.