The Week Ahead

Sometimes you must speak plain. Let’s do that.

I am dreading next week. On Sunday we are to see the opening scenes in an overrated melodrama.

We have had a few promos in the past, but now comes the real thing. The Prime Minister of Israel goes on trial.

Corona is not enough. Nigh on 200,000 rockets aimed at us is small change. The need to decide if to accept Trump’s beguiling invitations is now. No, none of that is essential; we have to hear a trial.

We got through Corona by adopting a rigid regime. The nation isolated itself from communities, families and country. We hunkered down. When it seemed that we had won, our Minister Of Health informed us that all the acts were hysterical and unnecessary. We knew something was amiss. When we all sat isolated with no Passover Family prayers, our betters excluded themselves from that rule. The Director-General of the Health Ministry decided to resign. The new Minister of Health relaxed most of the regulations. As I write the numbers of ill is rising. We have none of the promised and needed provisions to avoid the next wave.

Our decimated economy has no real exit plans. We have massive unemployment. Well, not everyone is unemployed. To set up a policy-free government, we have double the number of ministers and ministries that any other state of our size has. Our housing industry may be derelict, but we will be building a new house for our acting and as if Prime Minister. Yes, we have one of those. A sophisticated new job designed to influence the trial.

El-Al maybe on the verge of bankruptcy- but not to worry. Bibi is buying himself a new plane all for himself, and Sara too, of course.

I will not mention the pros and cons of annexation.  They are a tussle between heresy and heritage.  Does Bibi tacitly consent to Palestine’s existence or bequeath some more new lines in the sand?

The country is in an abysmal mess. After a decade of one man’s premiership, we have no political opposition and no constitutional checks and balances. The government is bloated, the parliament is eviscerated, and our High Court is rampant and unchecked. There had to be radical reforms; we are not governed by a plan. Israel lurches from one quick fix to the next. The essence of Israeli governance is to indulge in debates about the differing, exaggerated mind exasperating opinions about one man.

And that one man goes on trial. We are not discussing the role of Netanyahu as PM. Nor are we examining the over interference of the high courts; we are resorting to type. We are debating whether the High  Court should exist in its present form because it dares to place Netanyahu on trial.

The trial three cases against Netanyahu ask: can a PM ask and solicit extravagant gifts?

The second case is a borderline farce. When tempted to accept a bribe, our PM decided to toy with the offer before turning it down. If the PM does not know that this is abetting a crime, then his advisers should. If he did not ask them, we must ask why not. Any citizen, on being invited to participate in a crime, must report it. Failing this, he is an accomplice. Bibi is being charged with a misdemeanour. Some feel he was lucky, I am one of them.

The last case concerns one of Netanyahu’s close friends doing business with the government, on favourable terms.  The accused Netanyahu is said to have received beneficial reporting in the media. It is debatable whether Netanyahu’s friend benefited or if Bibi did get favourable reportage.

We see three sets of circumstances where Netanyahu behaved questionably. Did he break the law, did he bend the law, did Bibi feel he is above norms? There is no doubt that Bibi acted unusually. As with other acts mentioned, Netanyahu behaves more and more as if he is not like us.

Is this for good? No, it most certainly is not- it is an expression of unwanted elitism.
Was the legal apparatus correct in putting him on trial? I can only answer this in asking what the lesser evil is? To ignore suspicious behaviour or to examine a leader’s behaviour patterns.
Was it enough that Netanyahu was ‘judged’ in an election? No, because in the election we had no idea of what was done and what was not. We finally will hear, and we have a full right to know. Yes, he should go on trial.

Is the trial an example of judicial overreach? The process was slow and deliberate, charges were lessened, and every opportunity was offered to explain.

Nevertheless, the process was flawed. There were far too many leaks; far too often the legal and journalistic professions gave the impression of a witch hunt.

As certainly as Netanyahu must stand trial, so must the judiciary be curtailed- not because of the prosecution but despite it.

One thing is sure beyond doubt. We, the citizens of a beleaguered nation, at a critical time, do not need this spectacle. The law must be changed to suit our needs. This must not happen again.

About the Author
Born in Leeds in 1944, Michael Benjamin is a retired Psychiatrist and medical auditor, co-founder of Oranit, aspiring author and inveterate cynic.
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