What Are Friends For, Anyway?

Bibi Netanyahu has something else in common with Donald Trump besides a disdain for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a desire for power and contempt for their critics. Both enjoy the good life and prefer doing it with other people’s money. Trump is worth billions, or so he says, but either can’t or won’t prove it, but that hasn’t stopped him from soliciting money from others for charitable contributions he can take credit for.

The Israeli public has long been aware of the Netanyahu’s taste for the good life. Police investigations over the years show he and his wife have been doing it on the taxpayers’ sheql, whether it is a taste for fancy ice cream, pocketing bottle deposits or home improvements.

The latest scandal shines light on the first couple’s soliciting wealthy friends to cater to their expensive tastes in wine and cigars.

Sara Netanyahu asks for Dom Perignon pink champagne costing hundreds of shekels apiece, according to news reports out of Israel. Dom Perignon Rose runs $369 a bottle, according to Wine.com, while her husband asks for Cohiba Sigla V, Trinidad and Montecristo and other cigars costing around $65 each. He burns up as much as $20,000 worth of cigars each month, which is four times the average Israeli household’ s monthly income, according to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

The good news is that at least they’re not charging all of it to Israeli taxpayers, though it remains to be seen what the gift givers will get in return besides help getting long-term US visas.

The latest scandal – e pluribus unum – has Bibi selling out his billionaire benefactor Sheldon Adelson in order to get endorsements and favorable coverage in a competing newspaper owned by Arnon Mozes.

Predictions of Netanyahu’s indictment and resignation are premature. Bear in mind that the one who will decide whether to prosecute the prime minister is Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who was Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary before being promoted him to his current post. The AG is also sitting on a nine-month-old police recommendation to indict Sara Netanyahu on other charges. It’s a test of Mandelblit’s loyalty – the boss or the law.

Then there are also the pending investigation of Bibi’s role in a deal to purchase German submarines involving his cousin and family lawyer.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing in any of these cases, saying they’re all part of “an unprecedented campaign against me” by Israeli media. Sound like anyone else we know?

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.
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