I can’t imagine any greater pleasure for the Iranians, Palestinians, Europe’s ultra-left, Obama, Mogherini, BDS proponents and the politically correct press, as well as for all those who accuse and delegitimate Israel by deliberately propagating lies on its self defense duty and the current deadlock in the peace process… All the people in this list must be thrilled by the Israeli police recommendation to the state’s attorney general to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in two corruption cases.
Netanyahu has had his country’s approval for two decades; opinion polls also foresee him winning the next general election in 2019. Moreover, previous attempts to oust him via the courts and not at the ballot box have failed fifteen times. His adversaries hate him in a visceral manner, as one can only hate a leader who refuses to risk his country’s survival in exchange for international consensus or to bow to the conformism of the Iranian nuclear agreement and the irresponsible fantasy of returning to the 1967 borders, identifying with the mantras of the EU and UN’s that endangers Israel’s existence.
Netanyahu said that the police report against him is “full of holes, like Swiss cheese”, and has vowed to serve the end of his term. The two allegations of corruption claim that Netanyahu had accepted gifts valued at 750 thousand shekels, i.e. approximately 180 thousand Euros, from his friend Arnon Milchan, an Israeli businessman and Hollywood producer, and James Packer, an Australian billionaire.
This concerns the famous “cigars and champagne”, no money, but the value of gifts offered by these men over the course of a 20 year friendship with Netanyahu and his family. To say that gifts represents corruption, they must have been provided in exchange for something, and thus Netanyahu is accused of having helped his friend with a law that decreases the taxes of a citizen who returns to live in Israel, something that the PM says he completely ignored.
The only thing Netanyahu has said he’s guilty of is helping Milchan to renew a U.S. visa. The Prime Minister explained that the Country does it for anyone who loses the U.S. visa for services in support of Israel, and highlighted the fact that Milchan was also a good friend of the late Israeli President Shimon Peres.
The second case relates to conversations with Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the leading Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth: the police claim that the prime minister allegedly requested more favorable coverage by his newspaper in exchange for damaging a competing newspaper, the pro-Netanyahu free daily Israel Hayom. Netanyahu spreads his arms and reiterates how he defended Israel Hayom from a law that wanted to block the distribution of free newspapers. The question remains if politicians can exchange thoughts and proposals with journalists and newspaper managers on the phone without being accused of corruption.
One of Netanyahu’s key accusers is a sworn political enemy, Yair Lapid, who aspires to be the next prime minister.
But it’s short-sighted to think of Israel simply as a country afflicted by internal political battles: what has been called into question with this conspicuous police gesture is the full strategic position of Israel in the world, a bold leadership that has not only confronted extreme dangers for decades, but that has also restored good relations with the United States.
Jerusalem has been recognized as Israel’s capital; the Iranian question is now under the world’s eyes; the Palestinian leadership has lost credibility as the Sunni world seeks Israel’s support; and while events in Syria and Lebanon have grown increasingly bellicose they have been contained simultaneously with skill and determination.
The American reaction is cautious: the police recommendation of indictment doesn’t hold until there is a judgment. But for many the recommendation of the Israeli police has provided them once again with an excuse to say nonsense about Israel, Netanyahu, and peace, and they all go in one direction: canceling a real shield of Israel, a first class statist, from the international scene with lousy accusations. What a sheer, masochistic madness.
Translation by Amy Rosenthal
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (February 15, 2018)