We all knew the indictments were coming against Israel Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu, just as we all knew two months ago that next March Israel would be going to its third elections in a year. If Bibi could not cobble together a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset even though the religious-nationalist bloc he leads had won 60 seats in the April national election, he was not going to get it with the reduced bloc of 55 he won in September during Israel’s “do-over” election. And Benny Gantz, his leading opponent, was not going to make it to 61 either because, once Gantz announced that he refused to sit with representatives of religious parties, he was left with no reasonable path to a majority.
Likewise, we knew the indictments were coming against Netanyahu. Perhaps the final giveaway was when the prime minister’s attorneys arrived at the offices of the attorney general to present to him and to his chief prosecutor, Liat Ben Ari, their massive four-day portfolio of legal fact evidence and arguments for the defense. After two days, they were told — get this! — that Ms. Ben Ari, the prosecutor at the center of the investigations, would not be attending the remaining days of the defense presentation of evidence and arguments because she was going away to South Africa on family vacation. She just skipped out over the weekend before defense attorneys could resume their efforts for two more fateful days. Ho-hum.
In America, as convoluted as our legal system can get, Ben Ari’s behavior would be unthinkable. It would be she who would come under scrutiny and probably be fired, if not prosecuted. Ask any serious American attorney, not even a government lead prosecutor, what happens when a major legal matter is scheduled to take place during a major litigation. Aside from my being a law professor at two law schools, I have practiced complex business litigation for more than a decade, most of it at three major firms: JonesDay, Akin Gump, and BakerHostetler. I will tell you this: If I have planned a vacation of a lifetime, a once-in-my-life travel with my family, and we all have cleared our calendars, bought our air tickets, reserved our hotel rooms, and then an urgent legal matter arises in the litigation, we all have to cancel and reschedule the vacation. And if the once-in-a-lifetime vacation just cannot be rescheduled, then we know the two words that the managing partner of the office will tell us: Tough luck.
No matter where you stand on all the craziness of the Democrats’ neverending game of “Impeach Trump for Fun[draising] and Profits,” can you imagine if, halfway through the proceedings, Jim Jordan decided, “Oh, heck. I’m taking a vacation!” Or if Adam Schiff did? Yeah — we wish! But, really: unthinkable!
When Liat Ben Ari did not show up to hear Netanyahu’s attorneys make half their comprehensive multi-day presentations and present their new evidence, it was clear that “the fix” was in, and the indictment was set. No need to listen to the defense — we might have to revise all our indictments. Frankly, not only would she have been fired if this were happening in America, but hearings promptly would have begun investigating whether or not the attorney general who allowed this to happen without rescheduling the hearings should himself have been removed.
It all is just a shame. It recalls the way that Arab Christians killed Arab Muslims in the Shatila and Sabra terror camps in September 1982, and the Israeli Left immediately gathered in the tens of thousands to blame the center-conservative government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon sued Time magazine for its coverage, and a New York federal jury came back with a verdict that Time had lied about Sharon. But the Israeli Left perpetuated some “ethical value” that does not exist in a normal world of ethics. As we know in America, the Left fabricates pseudo-ethics in America that never apply to them, while flagellating their opponents on the right for “crimes” that do not exist.
Netanyahu exercised several impolitic lapses in judgment. He accepted expensive cigars and champagne from friends for whom he did favors. An Israeli film producer, Arnon Milchan, who has produced 12 Years a Slave, JFK, Heat, Fight Club, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and who earned two Academy Award nominations for Best Picture for L.A. Confidential and The Revenant, suddenly ran into problems with the Obama–Kerry White House, so he asked Netanyahu to call them and ask for a visa. Bibi made the calls, and the guy gave Bibi gifts. A conservative politician just has to know that the Leftists play “Gotcha!” 24/7/365, and they live for things like that. Compare how the leftists here desperately want to claim that President Trump’s hotels profit from his presidency. Really, in today’s “cancel culture,” in which the Left impeaches and indicts politicians whom they cannot beat at the polls, a more prudent officeholder would not have accepted the gifts.Bad form. Yessir, that’s my Bibi.
Likewise, Netanyahu is accused of asking a newspaper to stop its years of continued negative coverage, allegedly promising them that if their coverage changed, he would introduce a bill in the Knesset that would disadvantage their competition, Israel Hayom, a daily newspaper that supports him. Quid pro quo? The thing is, he never advanced such legislation anyway. Even better, it was his left-wing opposition who introduced the bill to hurt Israel Hayom — and Netanyahu and his coalition voted against that bill and killed it.
In the third case, he is accused of trying to get another news media publisher to stop attacking him all the time, and in return he supported a regulation that helped that guy become richer. It is the seamy garbage of politics. Certainly much less problematic than felon Tony Rezko making the Obamas wealthy or a Chicago hospital creating a $120,000-plus job for Michelle Obama when her husband got elected to state office, then raising it to over $300,000 when he got elected to the U.S. Senate, then Obama reciprocally securing more than $1 million for that same hospital once he was in D.C. — and then, once Michelle moved from Chicago to Washington, the hospital eliminating the job and never refilling it.
Not to mention Hunter Biden getting $83,000 a month from Burisma, then Veep Daddy Joe threatening to withhold $1 billion from Ukraine unless they fire the prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.
It was sketchy for Bibi to get involved in negotiating with leftist, corrupt news publishers to change their perspectives. One will not get far with people who are inherently corrupt. Bibi, at least, like American conservative presidents here, has an outlet or two to tell his story most of the time — just as America has Fox News, several talk-radio shows, publications like The American Spectator, the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Daily Wire, Breitbart, and others. So it is that Israel has Arutz Sheva–Israel National News, Israel Hayom, and some other conservative outlets. That is what it means to be a political conservative in an era when media are dominated by a Corrupt Journalist Corps of the Left. It has been that way at least for a century. The New York Times, for example, lied about Stalin’s Golodomor mass murder of Ukrainians, then covered up Hitler’s Holocaust of Jews, and never has stopped its promotion of Fake News and otherwise distorted news marked by half-truths and “anonymous sources.” There is no negotiating with people who are corrupt to the core.
In America, we all know all too well the process to remove the head of government. It typically is a political game, a disgusting sham. Invariably, committee members vote along party lines. If it is a Republican president, the Democrats on committee vote to impeach, and the Republicans vote not. And if it is a Democrat president, then vice versa. The only time that a committee member from the president’s own party also would vote to recommend impeachment is when (i) the evidence against the president is quite striking and overwhelming and (ii) the vote result is obviously going to be lopsided anyway, and several others from that same party all are in together.
In Israel, instead of having the House pass impeachment articles by majority vote, they instead leave it all in the hands of one person, the “attorney general,” who serves alongside another person who is the “justice minister.” The AG is more like a kind of “special counsel,” and the justice minister is more like an American attorney general. The Israeli attorney general decides unilaterally whether or not to “indict.”
In America, even if the House votes by majority to “impeach,” the head of government is not removed unless the Upper Chamber next votes by two-thirds supermajority to convict. That never has happened, and it will not come close to happening in 2020. Trump ain’t goin’ nowhere. By contrast, if the Israeli attorney general decides to “indict,” then it goes to regular trial before a judge or three. And in Israel, any government official who is “indicted” has to step down from Parliament, whether a regular Knesset member or a cabinet minister. The only thing that is not clear — because the law does not address it — is whether or not a prime minister has to step down. So, of course, the Israeli Left is demanding that Bibi now step down, and the center Right is saying that he should remain in office unless convicted.
Recall, too, what an honest “indictment” or an honest “impeachment” is. If either were a “conviction,” the head of government promptly would be removed from office and possibly imprisoned. But although an indictment is more than nothing, it is substantially less than something. Non-attorneys completely misunderstand what an indictment is. It does not mean that someone probably committed a crime. Rather, the whole idea of indictment was introduced centuries ago to prevent tyrannies and dictatorships from putting political opponents on show trial without any grounds at all. So it was instituted that, before you can put an accused on trial, the government first has to prove that it has at least some basis for going forward with prosecution. As a result, in America they convene a grand jury, and the grand jury gets to hear only one side of the case — only the government side. No defense counsel is permitted in the room. No defense evidence is shown to the grand jurors. If it were a trial, it would be straight out of Stalin’s Russia. But it is not a trial. The thinking is, “Hey, prosecutors — we gave you every advantage, tilted the scales ridiculously for you, and you still could not get the grand jury to indict? OK, no trial. End of accusation.” For example, that is exactly what happened with the police officer who was so wrongly accused, the victim of so many despicable lies, when he killed Michael Brown in Ferguson. There was no “Hands up, don’t shoot!” baloney. It was all lies, and the grand jury saw right through all the Fake News published for weeks by the Corrupt Journalist Corps.
So even with an indictment, Netanyahu stands only accused, not convicted. And how did the government get the indictment? They brought in a witness who would not tell the government what they wanted him to say. He kept changing stories. So they brought him into a hallway to sit and wait on a bench. And a few minutes later they brought in a woman with whom this married man apparently shared more than a warm acquaintance. And he understood that, if he finally says against Netanyahu what the prosecutors want him to say, then his wife and kids never know about The Sweet Lady. So he said exactly what they wanted him to say. And nobody ever found out about The Lovely.
Until a day or two later when everyone in the country did — because the justice minister was so furious that he exposed the whole sordid story on the Knesset floor. So now the wife and kids know. And the witness wants to sue the justice minister. (See what you have been missing while you have been focused on Marie Yovanovitch and Gordon Sondland?)
It is a shame that some Israelis seem intent on consuming their own. Major American legal scholars like Professor Alan Dershowitz, Nathan Lewin, a prominent American Constitutional legal scholar who has argued twelve cases before the United States Supreme Court, Prof. Avi Bell of Bar Ilan University Law School and the University of San Diego, and other serious legal scholars have written publicly that the whole case against Netanyahu is a sham. There is no such thing as bribery — the central charge in Case 4000 — when the “payoff” desired simply is better media coverage. Likewise, a political leader can advocate whatever legislation he wishes. For goodness sakes, politicians everywhere in the world always promote legislation to assist, enrich, and help their friends. That is why people often make friendships with politicians or with people who are friends with politicians. “Aren’t you friends with the city councilman? Can you ask him to help me get a traffic light on my street?” Or “Aren’t you friends with the governor? Can you help me get him to assist me with a license for my business? I can make a nice donation to his election campaign.” Major donors make monetary gifts to politicians in exchange for access and favors. Ever hear of Wall Street? The Clinton Foundation? The Koch Brothers? Unions? Minor donors like us contribute to politicians whom we actually believe in, but the mega-donors buy access and favors. On this the Left and the Right are “Citizens United.”
In California, New York, and Chicago, the Teachers’ Unions make huge donations to Democrats, and then the Democrats pass laws that hurt children’s education in the schools, disrupt school choice, protect incompetent teachers, and increase their benefits. Hollywood people make massive donations and hold millionaires’ parties for Democrats, and then the politicians pass laws that reduce or cancel taxes for making movies. That is politics. If the Republicans only take care of the oil barons and forget the little guys, then the little guys vote them out. And if the Democrats then spend all their time appealing to their identity-politics constituencies and forget about the middle-class working stiffs who actually live in America legally and actually pay the taxes that support all their welfare handouts, the middle-class working people elect Trump. That is how it works. The voters decide whether or not change is needed.
So the Bibi indictments, though clearly anticipated and fixed at least two months ago, are just a terrible shame and sham, the result of cynical politicians, despicable prosecutors who do not even have the basic professionalism or human decency to reschedule a family vacation at a moment of historical import, and a holier-than-thou justice system that cannot distinguish between real corruption and criminality, on the one hand, and impolitic political nonsense on the other.