Whether or not the corruption scandals hounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lead to his sacking matters little. Though nearly half of Israelis polled in July — well before the scandals took a much dirtier turn — believe that he is corrupt, a majority said they would still vote for him.
A recent survey conducted by Israel’s Channel 10 TV concluded that if general elections were held today, Netanyahu would garner 28 percent while his closest contenders, Avi Gabbay of the Zionist Camp and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, would each gather 11 percent of the vote.
“The next stage, which is drawing near, is for the citizens of Israel to re-elect a criminal as their leader and entrust their fate to him,” leading Israeli columnist Akiva Eldar wrote in response to Netanyahu’s continued popularity despite accusations of corruption and repeated police investigations. But Eldar should not be surprised. Political corruption, bribery and misuse of public funds have been the norm, not the exception, in Israeli politics.
Alex Roy puts it more succinctly in a recent piece in the Times of Israel: “The fact that (Netanyahu) still has a good chance of being the prime minister after these coming elections says more about how used to corruption we have become than how clean he is.” Roy wrote that his country “has gotten used to political criminals” simply because “each prime minister over the last quarter century has at some point faced criminal charges.”