Fact or Fiction: Long Live Corruption

I cannot know if it is fact or fiction, of which to be proud or of which to be ashamed.

A friend told me yesterday that he had read in a European newspaper that among the 193 member states in the United Nations Israel ranks number 30 for the most corruption within its government.

I would have thought it would have been Russia or one of the former Soviet bloc countries or even the United States. But no. My friend insisted that the French newspaper was correct… we are number 30!

One of the facts that was used to arrive at that number was that only Israel had former presidents, prime ministers, members of parliament (Knesset), leading military heroes, and horribly, orthodox religious rabbis and leaders, who have been found guilty and imprisoned on various charges from rape, to bribery, embezzlement and theft among other charges.

Thank God, at least for the time being we have no governmental, military or religious leader who has been found guilty of murder! Corruption seems to be our country’s number one lust.

30 out of 193 is not alarming in its numerical position. It is, however, alarming that any number should have been attached to it.

My friend did not tell me if we are number 30 at the top or number 30 at the bottom. Not that it would matter. We should still be a country with shame for those who corrupt.

And the funniest thing of all is that we are probably the only democratic country which continues to re-elect politicians despite of our awareness of their corruption and guilt. Fools vote for other fools.

Binyamin Netanyahu is our current example of public shame and corruption sitting at the head of state.

We have not been privy to tasting any of the catered meals which his wife Sara corruptly ordered at the expense of the state and for which she was convicted. There is a God! And unlike criticism some have of our Supreme Court justices, no one can criticize the righteousness inspired by God in condemning Sara’s guilt.

Democratic we were once-upon-a-time. Corrupt we have been most recently. But it is Jewish corruption, after all, and that has to make it “kosher” ??? Long live corruption ! Do we make a bracha (blessing)?

Of course, as I write these lines, I repeat the opening words: “I cannot know if it is fact or fiction….” since I have not seen a copy of the French report and rely only upon the words of a friend.

If, on one hand, the article is true, I blush with disappointment. If, on the other hand, there is no truth to the article and its numbers, then I must become like Emile Zola and pen another “J’accuse”. If it worked to free Alfred Dreyfus from Devils’ Island perhaps it will work to shame those who falsely create numbers.

Of 193 UN member States, if we had to be listed among the most corrupt at all, I opt for number 192. We are guilty of corruption as duly charged but to a much lesser degree than other nations.

Of our religious leaders in government we know that Aryeh Deri was (and is) corrupt and spent prison time for it. I don’t know if Bezalel Smotrich has yet sunk so low. I, even though completely opposed to him and to his politics, believe that his hands are clean (for the time being).

It is with those of his associates, among them the Kahanist racists, whose hands and mouths are mired in filth.

If our 21 teeny-weeny political “groups” could either merge into one larger faction or completely disappear altogether we might regain our lost way on democracy’s highway.

Two major political parties are sufficient…right and left with unfortunately some haredim mixed in between them.

I speaking with my oldest friend of 62 years today and I asked him for his opinion: who should I vote for? And I was sad beyond words to hear his reply: “they are all corrupt, every one of them; there is not one clean party. You are against Netanyahu, I know. So are thousands, maybe more, like you. But who is better than he? Rak Bibi. Only he has accomplished for our country more than any previous prime minister.”

I didn’t want to dare reply that Germany had a powerful leader who overthrew the democratic Weimar Republic and restored Germany to its pre 1914-1918 glory at great cost. But he too was a leader beloved by his people.

L’havdil… poo poo poo ! Netanyahu is in no way comparable. He is strong, beloved by those who are eating well, sleeping comfortably and enjoying out-of-Israel vacations. All the others have different opinions.

But as for corruption, as my dearest friend mentioned, it has always been with us; it is only growing more numerous lately.

If anyone has read the French newspaper, please share with me the news of our number 30 status.

Is it fact or is it fiction?

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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