This is a widespread phenomenon that has engulfed large parts of the political system, from the prime minister to several ministers of state, members of the Knesset, and city mayors. Not a day goes by when fresh news of the mishandling of political power for financial and other kinds of gain does not come to light. The epidemic proportions of this phenomenon lead one to wonder whether the police have time to deal with any other issues, and worse, to ask: What does this reveal about Israeli society and its future? Corruption and bad governance is threatening Israel’s long-term well-being and survival.
Throughout its short history, Israel’s political system has been no stranger to corruption; however, this destructive phenomenon has gathered momentum in recent times. In the past decade a former prime minister, as well as former ministers of the Interior, of Finance and of Health, as well as a number of mayors, have been given prolonged jail sentences for taking bribes; on top of this, a former president has been convicted of rape and other sex crimes.
The level of disgust expressed by ordinary citizens at the behavior of public servants, elected or appointed, has reached new heights, which explains the big rallies. Such gatherings have not been seen since 2011, when hundreds of thousands camped in the streets to protest against the rising cost of living and the lack of affordable accommodation, while political corruption became rife.
Top of the list of corruption affairs is the long running soap opera known as the Netanyahu family. The prime minister himself is implicated in what police suspect is corrupt behaviour in at least two major affairs, and two that took place in his close political vicinity. Even if the investigations may never amount to indictments — although there are strong indications that they will — taking “presents” valued at hundreds of thousands of Israeli shekels in the form of expensive cigars, champagne and jewellery from friends who happen to have vested economic interests in the country is immoral and inappropriate behaviour for an elected leader. Just as immoral and inappropriate is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s conversation with a leading newspaper publisher offering an exchange of political favors for economic gains. It is a sign of a leader who has been too long in power and is abusing it to support his and his family’s hedonistic lifestyle.
Ordinary Israelis who find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet have had enough of a political and business elite led by Benjamin Netanyahu taking advantage of their position to enrich themselves.
There is also more than a hint of the loss of any sense of judgment, accompanied by a strong sense of entitlement. Couldn’t he buy his own cigars and champagne, if only to avoid risking public exposure of this kind of behavior? But it is not only Netanyahu. It is his wife Sara, who is constantly in the headlines for mistreating employees who work for the Netanyahus, and increasingly the behavior of their eldest son, Yair, which is a source of concern. In a recording that has recently come to light, Netanyahu’s son is heard asking a friend, who happens to be the son of a gas tycoon, for cash to pay for a strip club, implying that it was a small favor compared to the alleged benefits worth billions from Netanyahu Sr’s help in securing a gas deal. The protesters in the streets are revolted by Netanyahu Jr’s language regarding women as heard in the recording, and also by the fact that he is chauffeured around for his nights out at taxpayers’ expense, including the cost of his bodyguards. …