The Movement of Quality Government in Israel and Corruption

“The central aspect of the rule of law is that no one may be investigated, prosecuted or impeached unless his conduct violates pre-existing and unambiguous prohibitions. Neither Congress nor prosecutors can make it up as they go along, because they, too, are not above the law.” [Professor Alan Dershowitz].

While the above quote references the US Congress, it applies equally to Israel’s Knesset. Indeed, it can be seen to apply equally to all Israeli bureaucracies.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel [MOQ] defines itself as a Jerusalem- based NGO committed to promoting the values of democracy, transparency, good governance and civic engagement in Israel society. It claims to serve the needs for a grassroots approach and to involve citizens in order to provide a real platform for social and civic empowerment.

The writer attempted to engage them, by sending them a message to the singular email address they posted. “Is the above the correct email address for recommendations? If not, what is? Alex Rose.”

And the reply, “Your message to infomag.org.il has been blocked. See technical details below for information.” So much for their advertised platform to feel free to write to them supplemented by a “fill in form” which provides little space for “content “and invariably rejects completion.

The extraordinary feature of the MOQ is that it is an entity under Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs – what sense does this make? What is even more startling is that its largest donor is the New Israel Fund, described by Joseph Puder as a fund for Israel’s enemies. The ZOA classifies it as being Soros-backed seeking to “erase” Israel’s Jewish character. There is truth to this in that the MOQ supports BDS affiliates.

Now amongst the successes MOQ claims, one does not find a rejection of one of the State of Israel’s greatest failings, the acceptance of parliamentary democracy over representative democracy. Stated otherwise as making the countries citizens disenfranchised and all government functionaries lacking accountability. In the area of corruption, despite its claims, the MOQ, as the so-called Democracy Institute, cannot claim great success. Their departmental heads resemble little Napoleons.

Edna Harel-Fisher and Yuval Feldman of the Israel Democracy Institute have penned an article on “How to eradicate government corruption” in the Jerusalem Post of 06/01/2019.They view the issue as one primarily of economics and ethics. They go so far as to state that their Institute has developed a comprehensive plan to combat government corruption. It appears so theoretical that it does not justify reporting on. They have a set of rules but no consideration of accountability. Sufficient to say that almost a year has passed with no indication of any changes to the government.

In its May 21, 2018 publication, Mosaic, “The New Israel’s Fund Agenda: Defame Israel, Drag its Officials Before the ICC, and Encourage Support for Hamas, among its Arab Citizens” it proclaims itself to be a self-styled “Zionist” organization committed to “progressive values.” This, while giving millions of dollars every year to far-left organizations inside Israel. Among them , B’tselem and Breaking the Silence who send their representatives to slander the IDF on TV, while another recipient of its largesse, Adalah, participated in promoting a UN resolution condemning Israel for defending itself. Thus, by using proxies, the NIF can allege non support of BDS.

Douglas Altabef of Im Turtzu, a Zionist organization, writing in Arutz 7 of 24/04/18, “New campaign takes aim at New Israel Fund”, calls on the Israeli government to end all cooperation with NIF through the application of a Billboard campaign. The billboard depicts NIF President Talia Sasson harming IDF soldiers, and emphasizes the NIF’s transfer of 310 million NIS [$87 million] to “activities against IDF soldiers, and the State of Israel.”

The campaign’s goal was to expose the NIF as a foreign political organization, operating in opposition within Israel to the government and the IDF, while engaging in anti-Israel lawfare, by means of its grantees in the Supreme Court. Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg recognized it as “absurd” that government ministries and public institutions continue to cooperate and hold events with NIF grantees. “There is no parallel to this phenomena in the democratic world, where a foreign organization operates openly” declaring that it represents “the political opposition in its host country.”

In a previous Arutz 7 Op Ed on 11/02/18, Douglas Altabef noted that the American NIF has never hidden its mission to save Israel from itself ,and its bedrock conviction that the chauvinist particularism of a Jewish State should be replaced with a more “democratic” state of its citizens.

Historian and editor of Historycentral.com – the largest history web site, Marc Schulman, in his TOI blog of 31/12/2014,”Corruptionin Israel – how it got so bad”, describes the factors that have contributed to the unprecedented extent of rot in Israeli political life. He notes that the shifts in societal values have great impact on a political system, where most of its members have never done anything else in their lives. With the exception of a few career army officers, most Israeli MKs have been politicians since their youth

He questions, “How were they supposed to take part in the ‘new Israeli dream ?'” In contrast to many American politicians who entered into politics after a successful and lucrative career, Israeli politicians generally enter politics in their youth. Shulman notes further that Israeli politics is a system that by its nature, has always been somewhat corrupt.”It is a system that 40 years ago produced petty corruption, an today in a very different society creates a level of corruption that undermines the very fabric of government.”

To this writer, most important of all , Marc Shulman states, there is one final factor which has caused the Israeli political system to turn out to be as corrupt as it has seemingly become. THE FACT THAT ISRAELI POLITICIANS ARE NOT DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE TO THEIR VOTERS assures a level of cronyism which guarantees corruption will run rampant. All Israeli politicians today are nominated by one man, a group of rabbis or a rather small number of people. No one is directly responsible to his or her voters; “the only people individual Knesset members have to keep happy are the leaders of their party, or at most the political activists in their party.”

By way of further confirmation of Israeli “democracy” as a contributor to corruption, Moshe Dann’s “Is Israel a Democracy?” serves as an admirable guide. He is a Zionist immigrant in Israel from the US. A former professor of history [CUNY], Dann is a journalist, writer and tour guide, licensed by the Israeli government since 1984.

His essay is both pointed and detailed. In answer to the subject question, he says that it is “essentially” , but there are major flaws in its political and electoral systems. By way of examples, he draws attention to votes of parties which do not pass the threshold being discarded, and MEMBERS OF KNESSET ARE NOT ACCOUNTABLE TO VOTERS.

Expanding on non-accountability, Moshe Dann reminds one that in a democracy, institutions are meant to serve the people and provide social cohesion. It is the basis of national identity and national unity. “Since Israeli voters have no direct access to Knesset members, they have little or no way of influencing the system and creating a truly representative democracy.” Dann insightfully recognizes that as long as Israel’s flawed system exists, elections will end in stalemates, preventing stability and undermining national cohesion.

When considering the decline in voter registration, Dann notes as a major reason, the loss of confidence in politicians and parties, a consequence of corruption involving public officials. He also observes many Israelis belief that judicial institutions, such as the High Court and the Prosecutor’s Office are lacking in response to the people. He is of the opinion that where votes of parties, who do not pass the threshold, are discarded, and members of the Knesset are not accountable to voters, it can be understood why so many Israelis [roughly one-third] do not bother to vote.

To Dann, Israeli elections are meaningless because they are about personalities, not policies; they are superficial, not substantial. The government is essentially unaccountable and in several cases consists of politicians who are not experts in the subject of their position.

Some thoughts provided by Lior Ackerman, a former brigadier-general, who served as a division head in the Shin Bet [Israel Security agency] are insights into government corruption. In the Jerusalem Post of May 15, 2014,titled “Is Israel a true democracy?” he answers, maybe it is an oligarchy, or an aristocracy, or some sort of anarchistic monarchy. “What I do know for sure is that no one actually cares.” Surely, a sad state of affairs. Ackerman, however, does point to the police being underfunded and as a result too weak to deal with the growing corruption among government leaders.

In a November 22, 2019 Jerusalem Post “Right from Wrong “column by Ruthie Blum, we find, “It is possible that the current situation, a historic first in Israeli history, will lead to a long overdue reform of the electoral system, including term limits, and the creation of a proper constitution.” More importantly would be representative democracy.

Earlier, on February 12, 2019, JNS published Ruthie Blum’s, “”Crime and Punishment, Israeli style.” Here, she deals with the upside down mentality of the judiciary. She addresses the incongruence of civil slaying verses terrorist killing judgments. Blum poses the question, ” What is it about a murder committed by a terrorist that differentiates it in the Israeli mindset from one perpetuated by a “regular” criminal?

While Israeli law permits the death penalty, it has only been implemented once in the country’s history. That was in the case of Nazi murderer Adolf Eichmann. The lesson being “never again”. It followed victims testifying “about the horrors they were forced to endure at his hands in Europe as part of Hitler’s “final solution”. Ruthie Blum contrasts several “civic” cases of savagery to illustrate her argument.

She discusses the horror of the decapitated, ISIS-style slaying of 19 year old Ori Ansbacher in a forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem by 29 year old Arafat Irfaiya, who confessed to sexually assaulting and stabbing her to death.

Blum also covers the awful killing of 56 year-old American tourist and Holocaust survivor Mala Malavsky in 1985 by Hava Yaari, former wife of Israeli Mideast analyst & TV personality, and her friend Aviva Granot over a money dispute. This was not to demonstrate that Jews are equally capable of heinous acts, but rather to focus on Israeli misjudgments. The killers “took the poor woman out in a car, beat her over the head with a rolling pin, threw her out of the vehicle and ran over her body, back and forth, to make sure she did not live to testify.”

Sentences? Yaari was sentenced in 1987 to 20 years in prison, but was released in 2000 “for good behavior”! Granot , too was convicted and released, died in 2015. While Ruthie Blum considers examples of Israel’s overly lenient, bleeding-heart justice system , she expresses no surprise that capital punishment is a controversial topic in the Jewish state. A major issue being the possibility of error in judgment.

Two older Jerusalem Post editorials, ” A punishment that doesn’t fit the crime” and “Crime and no punishment” are representative of Israel’s government ills. Adina Kutnicki adds to this in her Autz7 piece of 26/07/o7 entitled, “No crime without punishment.”

As recently as November 21, 2019, Batya Jerenberg reports in World Israel News on, “Poll: Israeli’s mistrust police as claims of improper conduct pile up in Netanyahu investigation.”

Perhaps it’s time for a novelist to produce a book titled, “In Israel crime pays.”

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.
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