For your perusal, my latest INTO THE FRAY column
Iniquitous indictments for invented infractions
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Despite his remarkable success, Netanyahu has been ceaselessly assailed by his political adversaries. Indeed, it is perhaps his very success that has generated such raw rancor against him
It appears this week on the following sites (in alphabetical order):
ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/24978
JERUSALEM HERALD: https://www.jerusalem-herald.com/single-post/2020/01/06/Bibi-Iniquitous-Indictments-For-Invented-Infractions
JEWISH PRESS: https://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/into-the-fray-martin-sherman/into-the-fray-iniquitous-indictments-for-invented-infractions/2020/01/07/
JEWS DOWN UNDER: https://jewsdownunder.com/2020/01/03/into-the-fray-iniquitous-indictments-for-invented-infractions/
Several short excerpts:
Israel – “a land that devours its inhabitants. Numbers 13:32.
I would have preferred to have devoted this week’s column to some other topic—such as the ascendance of blatant anti-Semitism around the globe, or the heightening tension between the US and Iran, or the emerging “understanding” with Hamas for “calm” in Gaza.
But Netanyahu’s dramatic ten minute address on Wednesday evening (January 1, 2020), in which he announced his intention to request parliamentary immunity from the charges to be brought against him for alleged breach of trust and bribery, is sufficiently significant to put other matters on the backburner—at least temporarily. (Reports on the assassination of Qasem Soleiman were just coming in as this article was being prepared for submission.)
The rationale for immunity
Netanyahu…invoked the words of the President, Reuven Rivlin, who has had an overtly contentious relationship with Netanyahu, and who, arguably because of that relationship, has become the epitome of moderation and respectability for the Center-Left in Israel.: “The legislators created far reaching immunity in order to protect representatives elected by the public…If the prosecutors and investigative authorities decided, because of political reasons , to neutralize a Member of Knesset, they could open an investigation against him—and things like that have happed in the past. People were subjected to criminal investigations and indictments were handed down against them—and there is grave concern that this was done by the authorities with the intention of preventing them from serving as ministers….”
Rivlin: Politically biased investigations launched in past
Significantly, Rivlin articulated very similar views, long before the prospect of any indictments against Netanyahu emerged.
Indeed, interviewed while still in his former capacity of Knesset Speaker, he expressed the identical rationale for parliamentary immunity for elected legislators: “We must remember what the logic behind [the idea] of immunity is; what the substantive reason was, which brought the founders of the Knesset…to create over-arching immunity, immunity that is unassailable, for each and every Knesset Member. [It was] the desire to protect publicly elected representatives from the ability of the authorities to bully and intimidate them”.
I must confess that Netanyahu’s shrill recriminations regarding the odds stacked against him and the motivations of the forces ranged against him resonate strongly with me.
As I have pointed out previously – see for example here— to anyone but a rabid “Bibiphobe”, they appear transparently contrived, indeed, a thinly veiled attempt at a legalistic coup, creating a deep sense of unease that Israel’s legal establishment is being exploited for patent political ends—i.e. that unelected elites are using their positions of influence and authority to bring about political outcomes that do not correspond with—even contradict—the election results…
“Appropriate criteria for criminal prosecution not met…”
But it seems that not only the practical conduct of the investigation and the motivations behind it are disturbingly suspect, but so are the very conceptual foundations on which it is founded.
This was powerfully conveyed by prominent legal expert, Professor Alan Dershowitz in a piece written almost exactly a year ago, in the far-left daily, Haaretz, entitled Voters, Not the Police or the Courts, Should Decide Netanyahu’s Future.
According to Dershowitz: “The issue at the center of these investigations seems trivial against the background of the existential crises Israel is facing…The first probe, also known as Case 1000, involves gifts of cigars and champagne Netanyahu received from close friends…I strongly believe that the appropriate criteria for criminal prosecution have not been met in the cigar and champagne case against Netanyahu… The other investigations (dubbed 2000 and 4000) pose even greater dangers to democratic governance and civil liberties
Flimsy case vs impressive achievements
I disagree with Alan Dershowitz on much regarding Israel, but I identify almost completely with his analysis of the indictments filed against Netanyahu. Indeed, not only do the substance of the indictments appear “trivial” compared to the challenges Israel faces, but also seem trivial against the background of the giant strides with which Israel has progressed under Netanyahu…Of course, Netanyahu—like every mortal on the planet—is not irreplaceable or unblemished, but his record indicates that he is by far the most capable candidate to lead Israel in these challenging times.
A transformative leader
Indeed, despite any criticism of him, it is undeniable that, in many ways, he has been a truly transformative leader.
“A country that devours its inhabitants?”
Yet, despite his remarkable success, Netanyahu has been ceaselessly assailed by his political adversaries, ever since he was first elected in 1996. Indeed, it is perhaps his very success that has generated such raw rancor against him. Thus, despairing of removing him via the ballot box, his political rivals and adversarial civil society elites have had to turn to the law to do so—mounting what Netanyahu has accurately dubbed a legalistic coup.
It is an initiative that is likely to backfire…