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Israel is turning into a Mafia State

Widespread endemic corruption is destroying the values and solidarity upon which this country was established
Coalition chairman Likud party MK David Bitan leaving the Lahav 433 national crime unit of the Israel Police on December 10, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
Coalition chairman Likud party MK David Bitan leaving the Lahav 433 national crime unit of the Israel Police on December 10, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

I have a few questions for State Attorney Shai Nitzan. Why, Mr. Nitzan, did it take you more than two years to close a 10-page case against Menny Naftali? Why did it take more than two years for you to utter the simple statement that there is no evidence supporting the plaintiff’s claims against Naftali, especially when you knew all along there was no evidence to support the case?

And, by contrast, why on earth did it take just three days — including a Saturday — for you and your pals in the state attorney’s office to close a massive corruption case entailing dozens of boxes filled with thousands of documents gathered by Rafi Rotem and Shuki Mishol revealing corruption in the Tax Authority, law enforcement ranks and judiciary? How is it, Mr. Nitzan, that in this case you were so very efficient, so very fast?

It’s really not that surprising. After all, when it comes to State Attorney employees, and especially to former state prosecutor Ruth David, you’ll never find evidence. The case is closed before it’s opened. Because there is one set of laws for those in the D.A.’s office and another set of laws for whistleblowers.

When it comes to undermining those like Menny Naftali who uncover corruption, it takes years to get a statement that no evidence was found, while all along they are being roasted slowly over an open fire. And only after they’ve drawn their last breath does someone bother to come and say, “Sorry, we found no evidence. Sorry, we made a mistake.”

My specialty is whistleblowers, and I’m sorry to say that Menny is not alone. Whistleblowers in the state of Israel don’t merit protection. Their reputations are destroyed, they are persecuted and cast out; fired from their jobs, subject to physical and verbal abuse at their workplaces. Some suffer adverse health effects, some get divorced, and there are those who even take their own lives.

The past few weeks have shown us that our commonwealth is once again in peril. And it is not security or economic issues that will lead to a third destruction of the nation in Zion. The Third Temple will fall to moral fatigue, to the corruption that is slowly eating away at the values and solidarity upon which the state of Israel was established. The Third Temple will be destroyed by the decline of the legal system and law enforcement agencies, by the ongoing damage to the Supreme Court.

If you listen carefully, you can hear the termites of corruption gnawing from the inside, weakening the beams upon which the foundations rest, threatening to bring down the whole house. These past few weeks have taught us that we are not speaking of a specific event, but about a foul tsunami rising up in an ocean of corruption that threatens to drown the state of Israel.

This is no longer Crony Capitalism. This is no longer about a newspaper trying to take over. It is not even about tycoons and power pyramids trying to muscle in on public assets. This is organized crime; crime families and Israeli mafia who are gaining control of local government and from there gradually taking over the central government and the nerve centers of Israeli society.

This time it’s about Mafia Capitalism.

You need to understand that this isn’t just about Benjamin Netanyahu. Bibi is only the symptom of a much more serious disease affecting Israeli society. Bibi is an actor in this drama, but look how many more players are up on this stage:

In the past week alone, we’ve had coalition chairman Likud party MK David Bitan, Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Tzur, Hevel Modi’in Regional Council Shimon Sussan, and 15 others.

The week before, it was UN Ambassador Danny Danon and another 15.

The week before that, we had attorneys David Shimron and Yitzhak Molcho, businessmen Miki Ganor, Arnon Milchan and James Packer, General Eliezer Marom, Avriel Bar-Yosef, Ari Harow, and another 15.

Before that, we had ex-Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov and ex-Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirshenbaum and another 15.

Before that it was Olmert, and Barak, and Sharon, and Isaac Herzog, and Katzav, and Segev, and Hirschson, and Hanegbi, and Deri, and Deri once more, and Yair Levi, and Fuad Ben Eliezer, and Ofer Hugi, and Benizri, and Pinchasi, and Yair Levy, and Yair Peretz, and Omri Sharon, and Naomi Blumenthal. And dozens of other MKs and dozens of other mayors that I don’t even have the strength to begin to enumerate. Unfortunately, it is a never-ending list.

Just this past week, right under our noses, an affair was exposed in which more than NIS 100 million ($28.5 million) were stolen from the Ministry of Defense and the IDF, yet the sky did not fall. We have come to accept that corruption is simply endemic to the defense establishment. We went through the Harpaz scandal in the IDF, yet the sky did not fall. Now we are going through the submarine affair and the sky is still not falling. Unfortunately, we have become desensitized.

But when you see all those actors up there on the stage in a horror show of corruption, you realize that the house is sick; sick with the malignant disease called corruption. You understand that this is not about right-wing or left-wing politics. It is not about Ashkenazim or Mizrahim. You understand it’s not about Arabs or Jews, and neither is it about men or women.

You understand that this is about everybody. No one is free of this deadly disease.

Only when everyone accepts that we have all been infected by this disease will there be a chance for us as a society to recover. Only if we all realize that the men and women on the right are as sick with this disease as the men and women on the left are will we have a chance of preventing the death of our society. If we continue denying this malignant disease, we are doomed.

The Knesset is on the verge of voting in favor of the Recommendations Bill, a law that will bar police from recommending charges at the end of their investigations. This law is corrupt. It will undermine the public’s right to know what mischief its elected officials are up to and, in light of the list above, many activities of many elected officials will disappear from the public eye. This law is corrupt because it is personal, designed to protect a select few, and will damage our constitutional voting rights — because information regarding elected officials who are under investigation will not be accessible to the public.

For this reason, I ask you to support us as we petition the High Court in an effort to prevent this corrupt law.

If you really care about this country’s future, if you understand that this is not a political issue but a moral one; if you’re concerned about the fate of the Zionist enterprise in the land of Israel; if you’re concerned about the future of your children and grandchildren, then you must protest. Go out and demonstrate. Object. Sound the alarm and rock the very foundations. Don’t say you didn’t know, you didn’t hear, you didn’t see. Don’t say Left or Right, just full speed ahead. Help safeguard the Zionist enterprise. We can only win together.

The above is adapted from a speech Eliad Shraga delivered in Tel Aviv, Saturday evening, December 16, 2017, at a demonstration against government corruption. Adv. Shraga is the founder and chairman of the board of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.

About the Author
Adv. Eliad Shraga is the founder and chairman of the board of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.
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