INTO THE FRAY: Israel’s dysfunctional electorate?

By MARTIN SHERMAN

Despite its many undoubted merits, democracy has one glaring detriment. There is never a dictator to blame for the fate that befalls the people. They alone are responsible for whatever befalls them

“Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit (And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness). – Alcuin of York, an English scholar, clergyman, and poet (c. 735 –804 CE) 

Israel is now hurtling towards its third national election within a year.

Not Force Majeure 

This was not an outcome precipitated by some unforeseen or uncontrollable force majeure. On the contrary, it was entirely the result—albeit an entirely perverse and paradoxical one—of the free exercise of collective human volition. 

 

It was perverse and paradoxical because it reflected the diametric opposite of the express–and expressed—desires of the individuals comprising the collectives involved in precipitating it.

Indeed, in the myriad of interviews in the national media—whether on radio or television, in the printed media or on the web—there was not a single politician, who did not voice opposition to yet another round of elections. Yet despite literally wall to wall individual resistance to sending voters back to the polls for a third time within a year, the motion to hold a new ballot on March 2, 2020, was passed with an overwhelming majority (96-7) in the wee hours of Thursday morning (December 12, 2019). 

Toxic quagmire of irreconcilable demands

As the inevitability of a new election drew inexorably closer, and the quagmire of the irreconcilable political demands of the potential coalition partners grew more viscous and more noxious, so the blame-game, the endeavor to attribute guilt for the undesirable outcome, spiraled to evermore shrill and venomous levels. Every political faction pointed accusatory fingers at every other faction. 

Each party extolled its own “flexibility” and underscored its own selfless willingness for sacrifice to hobble together a coalition—any coalition-to avoid a dreaded third national ballot. 

Thus, the Likud castigated Blue and White for intractable anti-Netanyahu rejection and excoriated Avigdor Liberman for perfidy and betrayal of his Right-wing constituency. Blue and White condemned the Likud for obsequious subservience to Netanyahu and putting the wishes of their indicted party leader above the needs of the nation. Liberman slammed both for being inflexible and for secretly preferring new elections, in which they hope they would improve their positions, over forming a unity government with each other. In Blue and White itself, Left of Center members accused Right of Center members of preventing the creation of a coalition headed by their party, that relied on the support of the Arab Joint List. 

So, to sum up so far on how the third round of elections came about: No-one wanted them, almost everyone voted for them and everyone blamed everyone else—except themselves—for causing them.

Another perverse paradox

This brings us to the second perverse paradox.

Apart from Liberman reneging on his pre-election pledges in April to help set up a Right-wing coalition (or, at least, what many saw as such), the subsequent rounds of elections were in fact precipitated by the various parties ostensibly insisting on honoring their electoral pledges to their voters.  

The Right-wing parties maintained their ideological solidarity and allegiance to Netanyahu as their choice for premier. Blue and White refused to give up their undertaking not to join a government under an indicted prime minister; Liberman kept to his (relatively new) commitment to eschew participation in what he dubbed a “Messianic Ultra-Orthodox” coalition—despite the fact that he had done precisely that, on numerous times in the past. 

Thus, the event, which no-one wanted (i.e. additional elections) came about precisely because the elected politicians strove to stick to their campaign promises and to provide their voters what they elected them for. 

Dysfunctional or irrational? 

Accordingly, the repeated failure to form a government is not really a failure of Israel’s democratic system as some have claimed, but rather a reflection of its success—and its ability to accurately convey the will of the electorate—including its view of Netanyahu’s legal situation and the moral implications thereof!

Indeed, if this is the case—and there seems little grounds to think otherwise—the ongoing political saga in Israel leads unavoidably to one of two gloomy conclusions regarding the Israeli electorate as a functioning collective:

(a) It is either dysfunctional in that it cannot agree to provide any elected political entity, or any combination thereof, the power to govern—i.e. it cannot generate the collective will to allow the formation of a viable elected government; or

(b) It is irrational in that it has a collective desire to install a viable government but insists on rewarding precisely those who thwart that desire.

Arguably, either possibility was clearly discernable in the last round of elections. After all, in the original elections in April, the formation of a viable Right-wing coalition was eminently feasible until Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu faction, which had pledged to facilitate precisely such a coalition under Netanyahu, refused to do so. Indeed, had Liberman honored his commitment, there would have been little difficulty in forming a governing coalition. 

Perversely and paradoxically 

However, when the next elections came about (in September) instead of punishing the very faction that frustrated the formation of a governing coalition, the electorate chose—perversely and paradoxically—to reward it, almost doubling Yisrael Beteinu’s strength in the Knesset; commensurately increasing its ability to torpedo the formation of any future coalition—which, of course, it did. 

Worse, if current polls are anything to go by, Liberman’s faction will retain more or less the same number of seats as it has today, leaving its obstructive power undiminished.

Accordingly, it would appear, that as a collective, the Israeli electorate is still resolved to sustain the ongoing political limbo—whether it is unwilling to confer the power on any elected political grouping the ability to form a viable government; or despite the fact that it is willing to do so. In other words, it appears to be persisting with collective behavior that is either dysfunctional or irrational. 

No dictator to blame

Of course, Israel’s elected politicians have been sorely reproached for the prevailing fiasco. Much has been made of the cost of the repeated elections and of how many classrooms could be built, hospital beds increased, and roads upgraded with the sums required to conduct them. 

This, of course, is as true as it is irrelevant. For the necessity of holding and re-holding elections is due to one thing, and one thing alone—the election results, which reflect the will of the voters.

Had they voted differently, had they not empowered the very faction responsible for preventing the formation of a duly elected government (and which they knew to be responsible therefor); had Yisrael Beteinu been punished, rather than rewarded, in September for blatantly violating its April pledges and received less votes than the required threshold to be admitted to the Knesset, the country would, in all likelihood, have had a functioning government today.

There is an important lesson to be learnt from all this on free choice and civic responsibility. It is this: 

Despite its many undoubted merits, democracy has one glaring detriment. There is never a dictator to blame for the fate that befalls the people. They, and they alone, hold the key to their destiny and for whatever befalls them. 

 

 Martin Sherman is the founder & executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies

 

December 13, 2019 | 37 Comments » | 463 views

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  1. And overseas in a shorter run up to the election one party was ripped apart. Dec 12 not a public holiday a regular working and school day the voting booths were open for about 14 hours. Pubs, cafes, gov. buildings became places to vote. No big shout of voter fraud, 650 seats or there about voted on. The results came in and on dec 13 it’s down to business, no wheeling dealing who sits with who, who gets to sleep with who. Next election date 5 years time.
    Israel should set an annual election date, instead of a public vote let the party all with equal candidates decide by total weight of its candidates. Cannot be any more rediculas than the current system.

  2. Dr. Sherman overlooks the fact that the Supreme Court and the Attorney General manipulated the electorate through their criminal investigations of, and criminal charges against, Netanyahu. A wealth of circumstantial evidence indicates that these charges are politically motivated, rather than by a genuine concern for law enforcement or cleaning up government corruption. The evidence for this is that indictments and/or investigations both of Netanyahu himself and of numerous other right-wing politicians have been continuous since at least 1996, while there have been almost no investigations of leftist politicians. And this despite considerable evidence linking leftist politicians, most notably Ehud Barak and Benny Gantz, to corrupt and criminal activities.

    And who “elects” the Supreme Court and the Attorney General? Directly or indirectly, they are chosen by the 850 or so members of the Bar Association, not by the electorate of six million Israeli citizens.

    The electorate has denied a genuinely free choice between the government policies they favored and those they opposed. Having to choose between politicians who face criminal indictments and those who do not is not a genuinely free choice. When the circumstantial evidence points to political motivations behind the indictments or criminal investigations of Netanyahu and several of his political allies, including at least two and possibly three other cabinet members, the election has been in effect rigged by an unelected, unaccountable oligarchy. It is no more a free vote than in Iran, which also has elections of sorts. Of course in Iran, only candidates approved by the ruling oligarchs are permitted to run, and only those whom they favor are allowed to win.

    Regrettably, Israeli elections have become little different than Iranian ones. Let’s not blame the Israeli people that they are dysfunctional. Let’s blame the oligarchs.

    Dr. Sherman is therefore incorrect when he blames Israel current political debacle on the Israeli people. Their unelected, unaccountable de facto rulers are to blame.

  3. The System needs to be changed to direct elections of the Prime Minister who should pick his cabinet (they should be a professional cabinet, preset in size and NOT Knesset members who are given a perk in coalition horse trading). Get rid of the deals and save the voters money.

    Pick at least 1/2 of the Knesset Members from regional districts in direct elections.

    The second half of the Knesset should be chosen as now from National Lists.

  4. @ David melech:
    The British 3 week election is worthy of copying BUT the seats to geography distribution is very troubled and would be better with Irish STV or Australian AV.

    Israel has flaws but given the way it has been assembled in a hurry from the four corners of the Earth the national PR has given everybody a hearing and so helped the country “shake down” together.

    What might be clear to all on 2nd March is that a certain period of Israel’s formation has ended as the electorate itself decides to vote centre and give the extremists and factional vanities of small differences a kicking. In that case it is to be hoped a vote of 1st and 2nd choices besides a 30 day election will come in.

  5. @ Adam Dalgliesh:
    @ Adam Dalgliesh:

    You are confusing two completely different issue.

    While I fully agree with the deleterious effects of the politically biased elites and the contorted and contrived indictments (see https://www.israpundit.org/into-the-fray-merited-mistrust/), this has nothing–or very little–to do with how the electorate voted.

    The High Court certainly did not compel voters to reward Liberman’s faction, which was the main reason for the failure to form a government

  6. I did a basic 120 seat plan e.g.. hadera would include givat olga, caesarea, or akiva, gan shmuel, pardes hana. Umm al fahm, megida would be afula etc. Most of the South would be split between eilat and beer sheva . beit shean would include the golan@ Frank Adam:

  7. @ David melech:

    Absolutely agree 100%. But the Powers-That-Be, are monolithic in their determination to keep the reins of power in their hands, and this convulsive -and impossibly convoluted- system is by far the easiest to manipulate.

  8. @ Adam Dalgliesh:

    Lately you have been writing so fluidly and interestingly on the whole corrupt system, that I must give you sincere plaudits. I’ve been meaning to, for some time, as your posts have become increasingly more edged, clear, strong, unequivocal and VERY readable. I look forward to them. (also I agree absolutely with their contents). You seem a different and less placatory person these days, willing to place your position in strength and “on paper”.

    Here’s a very interesting (to me at least) point I have not seen mentioned in any detail..which you may know something about…;

    Have the donors, the givers of the gifts in case 1000, ever been investigated, indicted or even questioned. .How has the total amount over the 25 year period been calculated …?? Where situations like this are “revealed” are not the “givers” equally responsible as the “takers”…???

  9. @ Frank Adam:

    The problem is a big one-but CLEAR. It is that in the embattled situation that Israel permanently finds itself, vis a vis it’s surrounding neighbours and the vast majority of nations further afield, it HAS to almost perpetually elect a strongly Right Wing govt Left wingers have abysmally failed, and put Israel in mortal danger, time after time, with a small example of their liberal stupidity being the Oslo Accords and it’s ensuing shambles, continuing to this very day, and well into the foreseeable future.

  10. @ Bear Klein:

    I believe I saw this (or a similar) plan years ago already, can’t recall who originally touted it. But…., like all others, in the atmosphere of Jews quarreling, (like a shool committee meeting) all it remains is…..a plan

    Even better would be to make a definite cut-off when the votes for a particular candidate have been reached, declaring that seat won, and give the voters 2nd and 3rd candidate choices for the overflow, so that NO votes would ever be wasted.

    (This way, the voter would be choosing the PERSON, not just the party, and each party would be impelled, by improved platforms, to get the best qualified candidates possible…)

    THAT would be real democracy in action.

    It’s a decided improvement on the present corrupt and highly unwieldy system.

  11. @ Edgar G.:

    Proportional Representation is the way to go and that’s what they have used in Ireland as far back as I can remember…which is a long time. .. Frank talking about STV put me off, as I’d never heard that voting term. So I looked it up.

  12. @ Edgar G.:
    Proportional Representation by geographical area is what I am talking about for the 1/2 of the Knesset I suggest be elected by direct election. The second half by national party list as is traditional in Israel. The reason I suggest the second half be done this way is because the Knesset members are the ones who need to change the system and some of them will certainly loose their jobs.

  13. @ Bear Klein:

    Thanks Bear for the link. I read the Times report until I’d finished Case 2000., the Mozes joke. In case 1000, there was a lot that had never been published and I saw it for the first time. Much was harmless, and some was doubtful to me, but not being an Israeli lawyer, I couldn’t judge. The way it was all set out, is impressive, and must have cost the taxpayer many millions.

    One thing I’d like to know. There is NO record of them selling the champagne and cigars out of the back door, or on the black market, they don’t own a liquor store, and its impossible that they smoked and drank even a 50th of the lot over the years. So what happened to these items.

    The Mozes farce is laughable…to me anyway. The P.M is being charged with dishonesty because he resisted the blackmail of Mozes, by his own churning ruses. If he didn’t do X and Y, then Mozes would openly print rotten reports about him and his family.

    So he’s charged because he had no intention of complying, which the AG makes plain that he knows, that he had no intention of complying with Mozes’ requests, and that in effect, he tricked this blackmailer by pretending to agree to commit a crime on his behalf. Damn it all, he IS a politician…. after all, the most consummate I’ve come across…except for D’Israeli.

    I couldn’t read the rest of it, the one about Bezeq. You say it’s the most serious..so it probably is I’ll wait to see what happens in court, and hope I’m still alive at the end of it..

    There is still no report as to whether the “bribers” were prosecuted or even indicted…unless it was at the end, which I didn’t get to. And this was the point of my query. Someone will know…. and I hope to see an answer sometime.

    Thank you again.

  14. @ Edgar G.:Case 1000 is not a Bribery Case. Part of it is very simple Israeli law does not all any government official to take a gift worth more than 300 shekels without reporting it and turning it over to the government. Sounds like they are probably guilty of that as charged they took over 400K of gifts. It is a Breach of Trust and fraud case.

    Case 2000 sounds like Mozes tried to Bribe Bibi and he has been charged. I think this against Bibi is not too strong of a case.

    Case 4000 is also a Bribery Case and yes the Bribers were also charged as were many other people including people who worked for Bibi and they have turned state witnesses against him. This is a very serious case sound like he went to great lengths over a long period of time to change regulations on the behalf of Bezeq to the detriment of the Israeli public and was receiving bribes in the form of free publicity or advertisement. Bribe is something of value. I would want to hear witness testimony to see if it is as charged and hear the cross-examination. Supposedly there are also tapes of Bibi providing instructions to fix regulations on behalf of the owners of Bezeq.

  15. @ Bear Klein:
    ohanks for the info.Yes. I’ve read about the gifts which are to be not more that $70 worth. But the way that Mandelblit has phrased and worded the indictment clearly shows that Netanyahu is being bribed with these gifts to do certain things in exchange. I suppose, that its easier to revert to the existing 1978 Law and charge under that. Also it shows his clean” hands. I still wonder what they did with all that stuff.. The explanation most likely is, that it went towards entertaining the streams of important overseas presidents and high officials. I would not be surprised to find that this is the explanation

    I was wondering about it, not having seen it mentioned anywhere You find sources of info that are a mystery to me. I don’t have either the time or the expertise to find them myself.

    So the bribers are being charged. That’s what I wanted to know. Thanks again…!!

  16. @ Edgar G.:
    The cigars and champagne I also would guess would be to entertain guests.

    Israeli politicians entertain truly rich people from all over the world. The trouble is these politicians are not themselves rich and appear to try and keep up with the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I actually think these gifts are not a clear quid quo pro. I really wonder if this charge will hold up. To me this is a fine and not jail time if convicted in case 1000. There is NO charge of bribery in this case.

  17. Lieberman works from day 1 to bring the Oslo-defeatists back to power even with the arab joint list as external support . Liberman quitted Bibi’s government over lack of action against Hamas . Then he made his campaign against the orthodox , as if he never seated with them for many years . The guy is a fraud . But the public is charmed by his anti-orthodox rant and has rewarded him. So the next round of voting will bring a leftist government . As for Bibi he should have stepped down to focus on his judicial woes , and Likud would have now a clear leadership .Most of the charges are ridiculous . Since when what a donor buys in a luxury shop for let’s say 1000 $ is worth this price or value the very second he has left the shop ? One tenth at best . Mozes was trying to blackmail Bibi by spreading hateful reports , and Bibi was too under pressure to apparently cave in this blackmail by offering to curb down Israel HaYom ; here Bibi is victim of the extorsion of Mozes . Bezeq is the only case where there is a shadow of ” conflict of interests ” but as the Knesset behavior has shown for many years NOT ONE Politician is expected to fulfill precisely its pledges to the voters once he has been elected .
    This is the main characteristic and defect of ” representative democracy ” based upon a “REPRESENTATIVE MANDATE ” vested in someone free to betray it , versus ” the direct democracy ” where the elected politician who holds only an ” IMPERATIVE MANDATE” is under the responsibility of strictly applying his program .
    In Germany the ministers elected by their Lander to the Bundesrat receive an imperative mandate .
    In Switzerland several cantons can apply a ” recall ” referendum against an unfaithful politician .
    In some american states there is a ” Recall ” election to bring down a politician .

  18. @ Dr Martin Sherman: Dr. Sherman, you have indeed, in several previous columns, pointed out the harmful effects of Israel’s judicial-governt-lawyers- establishment’s harmful impact on Israeli democracy. Your column “Democracy without the Demos” was especially insightful and on-target concerning this phenomenon.

    However, in your most recent column, you have shifted gears and blamed the electorate for Israel’s dystunctional political system. I think that is unfair. How could the electorate fail to be influenced by the indictment of the Prime Minister, and the constant stream of hostile rulings and declarations about him from the Attorney General and the Supreme Court, some openly published and other surruptitiously “leaked” to favored journalists? How could they fail to be influenced by the incessant press articles declaring him to be a criminal, on the basis of this information from the “legal” authorities?
    As for their support for Leiberman–after all he has not been investigated or charged with anthing recently, although he was in the past. Gantz,Lapid,Ashkenazi, Yaalon and their associates in Blue-White have never, as far as I know, had to face criminal charges and investigations.

    Can the electorate fairly be blamed for favoring (presumed) non-criminals over person’s alleged by the judicial=prosecutorial establishment to be criminals? Clearly, the “demos” has been misled and manipulated by the judicial-prosecutorial establishment. Given the prestige that judges and courts have in Jewish culture, which the ruling lawyers’ establishment has ruthlessly exploited for partisan political ends, how fair is it to blame the “demos” for behaving like sheep being led to the slaughterhouse?

  19. @ Adam Dalgliesh:Where I believe the legal system needs to continue on the reforms Shake had started, I also believe the Prime Minister has done so much over the years that he has alienated many people.

    I believe the police were looking at him or investigating him. They in case 4000 have a very serious case. In the evidence of this case it also found that he was playing dirty tricks on other right-wing politicians like Bennett using Walla (owned by Bezeq 2nd largest publication in Israel).

    The Prime Minister in a Machiavellian fashion has used his power to drive out anyone he believed might take his job.

    Interestingly when Olmert got in legal trouble when he was Prime Minister, Bibi was quick to point out that Olmert needed to deal with his legal problems and step down from his position. Olmert did just that and the country was able to move forward. Unfortunately Bibi is not doing that, Nor is a full fledged primary that would include several potential Prime Minister Candidates from the Likud taking place because of his continued presence in the Likud leadership role.

    Also the legal system did not cause Bibi to conspire with Bezeq to make what appears to be underhanded deals to the detriment of the public and benefit of the Bezeq owners for large sums of money. This again was done with the purpose of his trying to retain power. The same thing that brought Richard Nixon down the drive to keep power at all costs, even if it meant doing nefarious things.

    I think it is very sad that Netenyahu who has done so many good things for Israel and has been so dedicated to Israel is going out in this manner. He would do himself and Israel one final good turn if he would work with Rivlin to retire from politics and take a pardon. That way instead of dragging this out for years he could allow the country to move on to new leadership and find new personal goals out of court rooms and perhaps prison.

  20. @ Bear Klein: If even half of the statements of fact in a series of articles and speeches by Caroline Glick are accurate, Bear, then your analysis of the “Case 4000” is completely inaccurate.

    *First of all, there is the fact that in hundreds of years of jurissprudence in all western countries, favorable publicity has never been considered a bribe, even when a politician demands it of some company or industries that the politician has benefited. If this interpretation of bribery were applied in Israel to all politicians, every one of them would be in jail. Also, all poliicians in the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and every other country that has contested elections. The “trade” of favorable publicity in return for benefits received from government officials is politics as usual, and completely respectable, all over.

    Glick points out that the prosecutors office never even investigated the numerous other members of the Knesset who received more favorable coverage from Walla after they decided to support the Bezel deal. Selective law enforcement targeting only certain politicians is illegal.

    Bibi actually received very little favorable coverage from Walla, whose editorial line remained, and continues to be anti-Bibi. Walla did publish a few more positive stories about Bibi after his phone conversation with the owner of Bezel, but not very many. It also published one more flattering photograph of Sarah Netanyahu, after having published many unflattering photos of her, as Sarah demanded. But since numerous anti-Bibi articles continued to be published by Walla, Bibi did not benefit, even politically, from his phone conversations with the owner of Bezeq.

    The law in Israel and every democratic country requires that bribery innvolves the receipt of benefits from the briber of tangible and practical value. No evidence has been released by the prosecution to indicate that Bibi benefited in tangible and practical ways from his requests for favorable publicity from Walla. He did not become richer. His life-style did not bcome more comfortable. He did not even receive any political benefits. Far from enabling Bibi to win elections, his requests to Bezeq have placed his poitical career in grave jeopardy.

    Walla lost millions of dollars, rather than increasing it s profits as a result of the changes in government regulations approved by the communications ministry, including Bibi. That is because the communications ministry, with Bibi’s approval, added a clause to the regulations changes that Bezeq had not requested–which was opening up the communications industry to competition, and destroying the monopoly that Bezel held on the industry for many years. Far from profiting from the regulatory changes, Bezel has seen it s profits decline by tens of millions of dollars.

    The regulatory changes approved by the communictions ministry, including Bibi, were of great benefit to Israeli consumers and cost them nothing. They enabled consumer’s to receive “bundling” packages from communications providers (one payment for internet, telephone, mobile devices, etc.) which saved them millions of dollars. They were also enabled to use many newly developed communications devices, such as “smart” phones, that had previously been unavailable to them.

    The communications ministry had been reviewing Bezeq’s requests for regulatory changes for years before the owner of Bezeq (I can’t remember his name) called Bibi. Five separate committees of civil servants, who were not hired and could not be fired by Bibi, had reviewed the requested changes and approved them. The civil servant who was in charge of the ministries telecommunications division, the real decision-maker in this matter, was about to issue his approval of the changes beforeBezeq’s CEO called Bibi. He did so shortly thereafter. Bibi’s approval was a mere formality once the civil servants, scores of them, had reviewed and approved the regulatory changes.

    Since Israeli consumers benefited enormously from the regulatory changes approved by both Bibi and scores of independent civil servants, and neither Bezel nor Bibi benefited frm them at all, the charge of bribery against Bibi would be ludicrous, were it not so vicious and destructive of democratic government.

  21. Bibi only got in trouble over his alleged receipt of gifts, whether real or imaginary, from businessmen, because he failed to deliver the benefits they had expected of him in return for the supposed favors, whether tangible or intangible, real or imaginary, beneficial to him or not, that they did for Bibi.In “Case 4000” the “gifts”the telecommunications CEO had given Bibi were intangible and worthless. In Case 2000, no gifts were given to Bibi and Bibi delievered no benefits to the newspaper publisher. in “case 1000 ” alone there were actual gifts given to Bibi.
    In “case 1000,” for example, the movie producer apparently believed that because he had given Bibi all that champagne, brandy and cigars over the years, he would push through the tax break that he wanted. But the Finance Ministry, which Bibi did not control, refused to approve the tax break. So the movie producer, who had assumed that Bibi would give him the requested tax break, perhaps not realizing that it wasn’t in Bibi’s power to do so, was angry and complained to prosecutors that Bibi had failed to “come through” when he (the producer) thought he had bribed him.

    This pattern characterizes all three of the cases against Bibi–case “1000,” case “2000,” and case “4000.” Their anger at having been “screwed” by Bibi led them to complain to prosecutors, enabling the latter to bring charges against Bibi. They thought that they had bribed him, and then when Bibi failed to “come through” for them, they became angry. Bibi, for his part, did not regard their real or purported favors as bribes, and did not feel obligated to deliver a “quid pro quo” for them.

    The prosecutors and police are to blame for accepting these businessmen’s accusations at face value, even in the two cases where Bibi received no actual benefits from the businessmen, and he delivered no benefits to them.
    They are also at fault for not even investigating the numerous other MKs who supported legislation benefiting the alleged bribers. Plainly, they were just trying to “get something” on Bibi, and didn’t even care what it was.

  22. @ Edgar G.: Thank you for the complements, Edgar, whether I deserve them or not. i

    Your question about the “givers” notbeing charged in case 1000 is a very pertinent one. Also, your points that the Netanyahus couldn’t possibly have drunk all that champagne, etc. and smoked themselves, had no way of selling them to others and therefore must have intended them for guests or visitors, is also a rational deduction Even Bear agrees with this.

  23. Adam Dalgliesh Said:

    A wealth of circumstantial evidence indicates that these charges are politically motivated, rather than by a genuine concern for law enforcement or cleaning up government corruption. The evidence for this is that indictments and/or investigations both of Netanyahu himself and of numerous other right-wing politicians have been continuous since at least 1996, while there have been almost no investigations of leftist politicians. And this despite considerable evidence linking leftist politicians, …, to corrupt and criminal activities.

    Thankfully, we don’t have this problem, here in the good old US of A. Ha Ha.

  24. @ Adam Dalgliesh:
    I completely disagree with your comments. First all Bibi got bribes in Case 4000 not gifts you are conflating the cases. The gifts are in Case 1000. By the way he does not dispute getting the gifts worth more than $200K. I will post a link below so you can actual see what the indictment factually is.

    A Bribe may be anything of value. I understand the argument Dershowtiz and Caroline Glick repeated. It is an interesting argument but he basically received free advertisement for his political purposes. The argument does NOT change that a Bribe is anything of value. Clearly the constant change of coverage for Bibi in Walla (Israel’s second largest publication) has great value to Bibi. In some particular incidents this amounts to Advertisement which has clear monetary value. The charges indicate Bibi went to great length’s (conspired) fired the Communications Minister and took the job himself. Then fired and replaced the Director to get the regulations changed to the benefit of the Bezeq and detriment of the Israeli public. The owners of Bezeq then made large sums of money.

    In a blistering accusation, the indictment tells how Netanyahu “intervened in a blatant and ongoing manner, and sometimes even daily, in the content published by the Walla news website, and also sought to influence the appointment of senior officials [editors and reporters] via their contacts with Shaul and Iris Elovitch,” the Bezeq owner’s wife.

    Elovitch ensured favorable coverage of Netanyahu at Walla, Israel’s second-largest news site, and critical coverage of Netanyahu’s rivals, especially in the 2013 and 2015 election periods, prosecutors charge, including dozens of examples of content that was written, changed, or deleted at the prime minister’s request.

    “During the period relevant to this allegation, the sphere of communications coverage had a great deal of significance for the defendant Netanyahu and for his wife, Sara Netanyahu, and he attributed decisive importance to it,” the indictment reads. “The improvement of the defendant Netanyahu’s media coverage and finding outlets to convey his messages were highly significant interests for him.”

    In one telling example, prosecutors detail Netanyahu’s efforts to change Walla’s coverage on Election Day 2015, adding another layer to a controversial incident that had already become a symbol of the lengths Netanyahu has been willing to go to remain in power.

    Faced with polls showing that the rival Zionist Union party could edge out his Likud, and with just hours left before ballot stations closed, Netanyahu posted a video on his Facebook page at 12:23 p.m. claiming a mass effort to ferry Arab Israeli voters to the ballot stations.

    “The rule of the right is in danger,” Netanyahu said in the video. “Arab voters are coming in droves to the ballot boxes. Left-wing organizations are busing them in.”

    But it was untrue. The Arab vote was only marginally higher than in previous years and only at a few polling stations. There was nothing close to the massive surge that Netanyahu had warned of. There were no buses bringing in droves of Arab voters.

    Pollsters, whose initial exit polls put Netanyahu more or less level with Herzog, have since said (Hebrew link) that the message, true or not, was a determining factor in a late surge of support for the prime minister and his ultimate victory.

    According to the indictment, the video was able to reach hundreds of thousands more voters than those who saw it on the prime minster’s social media, due to a demand from Netanyahu for Walla to publish the video on its own site and keep it at the top for most of the remainder of election day.

    “The defendant Netanyahu ordered [his then-media adviser turned state witness Nir] Hefetz to pass the video onto Elovitch… Elovitch then ordered [Walla CEO Ilan] Yeshua to publish it with the title, ‘Netanyahu: The Arabs are coming in great droves to vote,’” the charge sheet recounts, adding that, as a result of the correspondence, “the video was left as the lead headline on the site for many hours.”
    Nir Hefetz arrives for a hearing at the Tel Aviv District on November 10, 2019. (Avshalom Sassoni/ Flash90)

    Concluding the reference to the election day video, prosecutors note a text message sent to Yeshua after the story was published, in which Hefetz wrote: “I showed Bibi the lead headline. He’s delighted.”

    According to the indictment, “The abnormal nature of this relationship finds expression in the many intensive demands over several years, hundreds of demands, sometimes on a daily basis, that were sometimes conveyed at irregular hours, for coverage or refraining from coverage of one type or another.”

    Full article about 63 page indictment here: https://www.timesofisrael.com/the-state-of-israel-v-benjamin-netanyahu-the-specifics-of-the-pms-indictment/

  25. Case 4000 unlike Case 2000 the Prime Minister obtains considerable value over a long period of time. His changing of regulations specifically done in an elaborate manner benefited the owners of Bezeq. These changing of regulations cost the Israeli public both in speed of internet service and financially as it reduced competition illegally in obtaining internet services.

    The three Justices in District in Jerusalem will not be swayed by arguments such as liberal politicians have not been charged in their law-breaking (one not factual) as this is the equivalent of the robber going into court saying the cops did not charge some other robbers so you can not charge me. The facts charged show significant value was obtained by Netanyahu for his alleged elaborate and on-going conspiracy to change the regulations for the benefit of Bezeq.

    Under Netanyahu’s watch, prosecutors allege, Bezeq was given preferential treatment.

    For example, in 2014, Israel launched a wholesale market reform to open up the fixed line telephony and internet market, dominated by Bezeq, to vibrant competition. According to the planned reform, as described by the indictment, by March 2017, Bezeq was supposed to lease out its infrastructure to telecom competitors, such as Partner Communications Co. and Cellcom, so they could provide competing fixed line and internet services. With Filber overseeing the implementation, Bezeq reneged on its obligation.

    Allegedly at the behest of Netanyahu, Filber started hindering the roll-out of the reform. Bezeq was no longer threatened with fines for not adhering to the timetable for this reform. And, the charge sheet continues, neither did Filber approve the administrative orders — such as setting out the procedures by which the various telecom operators should interact with each other in sharing infrastructure — necessary to advance the process.

    As a result, the deployment of high-speed fiber optic cables that would have given millions of Israelis infrastructure for cheaper and faster internet, and ensured Israel’s capacity to maintain a global competitive edge, was significantly slowed.

    The relationship between Netanyahu and Elovitch marked a “blatant” conflict of interest, prosecutors say, in which Elovitch intervened “crudely” on Netanyahu’s behalf at Walla, in the expectation, which bore fruit, of business benefit. Netanyahu indeed used his “power and authority” to advance Elovitch’s interests, to the extent that Elovitch “directly or indirectly” made 1.8 billion shekels as a consequence of Netanyahu’s regulatory and other decisions.

    Netenyahu will have to show the testimony including tapes made by Fiber (Communications Director appointed by Bibi) directly showing Bibi personally directed the illegal activity to benefit Bezeq is false. The judges will not be confused by conflating the cases or claims of bias. They also know that it does not matter if there are or are not prior similar cases. The judges know what matters did the alleged activity occur and did the Prime Minister receive something of value. If their answers to both are yes he will be convicted.

  26. For bribery there must be a quid pro quo—a specific intent to give or receive something of value in exchange for an official act. Did the Prime Minister exchange changing of regulations for the benefit of Bezeq for something of value, is the question. The indictment is very convincing in CASE 4000 and Bibi’s lawyer’s have their work cut out for them.

    There is a serious political problem for Israel and it needs a government NOW not a few years from now. So hopefully Bibi will step down before the Likud Primaries. Several of the Likud MKs are now supporting Gideon Saar to lead the Likud because they realize a new leader is the only way out of this hole.

  27. @ Bear Klein:

    I don’t think it’s from a habitual “lifestyle”. All Israelis lead a normal non-scintillating life, even those wealthy ones. It is a very matter-of-fact society. I believe that visiting dignitaries and (as you say “friends”) who visit and require to be entertained like that, are not just dropping in to see a friend, they are there on business, and business that will benefit themselves, and also the State. Politicians and nation leaders do not “visit” either. So all that champagne and cigars, whilst being nibbled at by the Netanyahus must go mostly to these people. Ordinarily these “visits” -if they were official- would cost the state a fortune, but visiting the Netanyahus, takes away much of the outward pomp and reception glitter, and saves the state millions. It also may be the reason why Netanyahu has been able to get s much done in comparatively little time, these informal visits.

    This has NOT been even considered in the charges…. what the Netanayahus did with the “loot”……….

  28. @ Adam Dalgliesh:

    Thank’s Adam for the agreement with my points.

    I am a critical reader, and when I find flaws, I sometimes highlight just from “devilment”. Best of all I love to read good prose, (Dennis Wheatley excepted of course) and, regardless of your diffidence, your writing has lately revealed itself as immensely readable…and appreciated by me, regardless of content. The way you lead a point into a non-contiguous other……..!!

    AND..the “non-state” informal visits to the PM, where nearly all the gifts were expended, are probably the settings for valuable International agreements benefiting Israel, .

    Actual State Visits are only the public acknowledgement of agreements already made in private (as above) which I’m sure we all know. So the gifts donors, even if their noses have been “put-out-of-joint” should,be grateful that they have done Israel a service…even though unintended.,

    Assuming that all you say is correct, and I assume that it is, cutting away the ponderous, trimmings, it sets out clearly the corrupted suits .

  29. @ Adam Dalgliesh:

    Thank’s Adam for the agreement with my points.

    I am a critical reader, and when I find flaws, I sometimes highlight just from “devilment”. Best of all I love to read good prose, (Dennis Wheatley excepted of course) and, regardless of your diffidence, your writing has lately revealed itself as immensely readable…and appreciated by me, regardless of content. The way you lead a point into a non-contiguous other……..!!

    AND..the “non-state” informal visits to the PM, where nearly all the gifts were expended, are probably the settings for valuable International agreements benefiting Israel, .

    Actual State Visits are only the public acknowledgement of agreements already made in private (as above) which I’m sure we all know. So the gifts donors, even if their noses have been “put-out-of-joint” should,be grateful that they have done Israel a service…even though unintended.,

    Assuming that all you say is correct, and I assume that it is, cutting away the ponderous, trimmings, it sets out clearly the corrupted suits .

  30. @ Edgar G.:What they did with the loot has not been presented because it may not matter legally unless they turned it over to the state as required by the law and reported the receiving of gifts in excess of ~$70 each.

    If they had accounted for the gifts and used them only for state purposes that might be an interested defense. Since to my knowledge they have not claimed this it, may be irrelevant. Like I stated previously the most serious case is 4000. This is case is actually going to be tried before the other cases. So if the Prime Minister is convicted in this case, the subsequent cases will not be as significant.

    In case 2000 I can see the Prime Minister being acquitted because I do not see the Quid Quo Pro clearly. I see the Bribe attempt by Mozes but not where it can be shown that the Prime Minister had the intent to carry out an illegal act.

  31. @ Bear Klein:
    Re case 1000, what if the defence shows that other politicians have received “gifts” exceeding $70, which were not turned over to the state, and which “the state” did nothing about……. It creates a precedent……. in fact, I ask you….

    “Have you ever seen any report where any Israeli pol has been prosecuted for this “crime””??… I don’t believe that I have, but you get around the news outlets far more than I do. I believe that if any pol reported that he’d received a gift (worth more than $70) and turned it in, it certainly should, in the sort of always churning atmosphere in Israel, have been a news headline.

    And it must have happened, quite frequently too. Pure speculation I know, but reasonable And…even if they have not claimed it, but include it in their defence, which is quite logical and allowable, do you think it would be a good point.??

  32. @ Edgar G.:
    Edgar, Israeli politicians at all levels are charged with crimes frequently.

    I have no clue if this specific crime has been charged before. My guess is yes, as it is for any official taking a gift. A Border Policeman who would let someone across the border illegally could be charged. This type of law is found in the USA also. Cops taking free meals could be charge with this type of offense.

    Case 1000 is alleging that the Prime Minister Breached his Trust and committed fraud when doing certain acts on behalf of those who had given him not $70 but over $200K of gifts. Some of the things being alleged done it could well be argued were not wrong or illegal.

    Typical political crime is politician being given money for a real estate developer being helped to get a piece of business.

    Example – Ehud Olmert found guilty of corruption by Israeli court

    Former prime minister convicted of bribery over Holyland apartments property deal while he was mayor of Jerusalem.

    I suggest you read the material on Case 4000 as that is the heavyweight charge and if he has done what is alleged he deserves to be kicked out of office.

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