There are serious murmurings in Israeli media that Bibi Netanyahu faces a new, and far more damaging investigation by Israeli police. Raviv Drucker and others have suggested various reasons for them, but no one knows for sure. Of one thing Drucker is certain: this is the big one, the political earthquake many have expected without knowing when it would hit.
Bibi and his wife, Sara, already face several critical criminal probes that involve bribery, corruption, misappropriation of government funds, etc. One is the Bibitours case in which he received double reimbursement for official travel which was also paid for by foreign donors. In another case, he took hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from a wealthy French Jew who is now himself under investigation there for bilking hundreds of millions of dollars.
There are several theories of what the new brewing scandal involves. Political blogger and lawyer David Levy says it regards stuffing of ballot boxes in the last election which permitted the Likud to pull a last-minute victory out of the fire. He claims a hacker broke into the Israel Elections Commission server and added hundreds of thousands of votes to the Likud column, which added 8 seats to its total. In other words, the election was cooked.
Add to this that each of the three major TV channels predicted based on exit polls that the results of the race would be extremely close. That Likud won six more seats than Labor was astonishing and unprecedented. Levy also documents that in the last two hours before polls closed several hundred more votes were cast than in any previous election.
While all this is very suggestive, given that no one else is supporting these claims, I take them with a grain of salt. Though I don’t discount them entirely.
Haaretz says it’s regarding yet more allegations of receiving funds from foreign donors after Bibi took the reins of the Likud in 2009. Raviv Drucker, who is one of Israel’s best TV investigative journalists calls it “a serious, wide-ranging investigation that will explode shortly.” Another Haaretz reporter has confirmed that the State prosecutor began serious deliberations involving his own staff and the police, on the matter weeks ago.
Readers should remember this is nothing new. Israeli politics is deeply corrupt from top to bottom. The last prime minister, Ehud Olmert is now in prison for graft. Ariel Sharon before him had Sugar Daddy, Martin Schlaff who bought his Sycamore Ranch and offered him endless buckets of cash. The question is whether Bibi can be felled by the scandal or whether he will continue plodding along as he has been.
The Israeli press, which generally hates him (with the exception of Yisrael HaYom), is clamoring for a really big scandal and his downfall. But will it make a difference? Will what follows Bibi be any different than what he’s offered? The answer is clearly no. Look at the candidates who could rise to replace him: Bogie Yaalon, Gideon Saar, Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, Moshe Kahlon. They offer more of the same. Perhaps a little dirtier or cleaner, a little more hawkish or dovish. But nothing new or different.
Another problem for the Israeli political system is that unlike many other western democracies, Bibi sees everyone in his own party as a rival and a threat. He hasn’t cultivated a leader to carry on his political legacy after he leaves office. In fact, he deliberately tears down anyone who could do that. Essentially, he has no long-term allies. He has only short-term alliances which are matters of mutual convenience. This creates a crisis in the event of Bibi’s fall from power. It also means that he will not leave his mark on Israeli politics. He will be written out of the history books as a megalomaniacal egotistical petty tyrant. He is no Ben Gurion. No Golda. Not even a Sharon. He’s more like Caligula, Nero or Louis XIV (“apres moi, le deluge“).
A new political thriller has just been published in Israel by Yediot Achronot’s book publishing imprint (Yediot is an arch-enemy of Netanyahu). The book The 1001st Year is about a neo-Nazi conspiracy (by descendants of the German Templer sect) to “plant” some of them in key posts in Israel, in order to cause Israel’s demise. Their biggest success is “planting” IDF’s new chief of staff, Elad Bental. When an investigative reporter discovers the conspiracy, he’s threatened and compelled to keep the secret to himself.
There are a series of hints that the life of the fictional Bental mirrors that of the real Netanyahu. Which means the authors are really saying that Netanyahu is causing, either deliberately or unintentionally, Israel’s downfall. A confidential and knowledgeable source tells me that the book is also a sophisticated way of hinting that Israeli media is being intimidating into not publishing (even more) damning facts about Bibi.
Netanyahu is currently conducting something like a rock & roll reunion tour of Africa, in which he’s being feted by the finest dictators the continent has to offer. Among Israel’s closest friends there are genocidaires, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni. They’ve accepted thousands of African refugees expelled illegally from Israel, which has dumped them in strange countries with a pittance in send-off money, and without contacts or travel papers.
His tour is part of a hoary old strategy first devised by David Ben Gurion. He used the Mossad and Israeli foreign aid to buy friends and influence people in Africa. Buying influence also involved shipping Israeli weapons to newly independent nations, who returned the favor, becoming loyal supporters of Israel in international bodies like the UN. Today, Bibi pursues this strategy because Israel has no friends left at all in the world, unless you count the Wahabis in Saudi Arabia and the military putchists in Egypt. Oh and let’s not forget the U.S., with presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton offering a Middle East plank in the Democratic Party platform which rejects U.S. foreign policy over the past four decades in not denouncing Israeli settlements.
One of the most hilarious and disturbing statements from Bibi in the past day or so involves a NY Times interview in which the prime minister says that when he’s facing a really tough situation he summons the spirit of his dead brother, Yoni, to help him. The dutiful Times reporters interviewing him let him get away with this crap and treated their subject with the appropriate hagiographic deference:
Whenever he is facing a critical decision, whether for his country’s military or his own personal life, there is one person Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel says he routinely consults: his dead brother.
…Mr. Netanyahu said he frequently held “hypothetical” conversations with Yonatan…
“Often I have to dispatch people to places where if there’s a failure, they won’t come back. It’s in times like these that I consult with my brother — and they’re a lot more frequent than you might think.”
Bibi breaks out this new meme just in time for his speech on the Entebbe runway where Yoni Netanyahu died freeing the Israeli hostages in 1976. It’s like he’s playing the greatest hits of his political career. He is absolutely shameless. Not above exploiting the memory of his dead brother for political gain.
Another bit of delicious Afro-Israeli trivia: on his last trip to Africa as foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, known affectionately by his friends as Yvet, decided to look the part of an African potentate. It suits him, don’t you think?
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.