Netanyahu is Playing with Fire

This isn’t criticism of the justice system, which is legitimate. It’s not about the struggle of one man, junior or senior, for his innocence; this struggle is legitimate as well. This is another kind of struggle, a dangerous one, which is all about playing with fire. Because Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting against the legitimacy of the justice system. “I am the state,” said Louis XIV of France. “I am the law, the justice and the state,” said Netanyahu.

In a campaign propaganda video posted on Saturday, Netanyahu compares the decision on an indictment to the amputation of an arm. “Can anyone give him back his arm? Can anyone give you back the elections?” This is an idiotic comparison. Sixty-four percent of the citizens of Israel want the attorney general to make a decision about Netanyahu’s pending corruption cases before the elections. It has nothing to do with support or opposition to Netanyahu. It has something to do with one fact only: The public wants and has the right to know.

Netanyahu’s video points to one thing: he already knows there is going to be an indictment against him. If Netanyahu thought for even a moment that the attorney general’s decision would be different, he would’ve thrown his full support behind it. The thing is, Netanyahu’s threats join those of coalition head David Amsalem, who said millions will oppose the decision to file an indictment against the prime minister. There are no millions; there were no millions, and there will be no millions.

But the danger remains. The threats and the efforts at delegitimization could cause a few thousand, or perhaps only hundreds, to hold support rallies for Netanyahu. And of them, one or two might do something about it.

Netanyahu went on to claim that, “there haven’t been so many people running amok in the history of Israeli justice, and even perhaps in the history of democratic nations” in order to file an indictment against him. This is a farfetched claim indeed. After all, the investigations have been going on for years under the supervision of the attorney general. Furthermore, Netanyahu knows the “Buzaglo test” (the obligation to enforce the law against a public official in the same way that it is applied to the “average Joe”) doesn’t apply to him, because throughout the investigations, he received endless leeway. He knows the attorney general is not a member of some leftist elite trying to overthrow him; he was once Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary. Despite that, his reckless claims mark another low point in his delegitimization campaign against law enforcement authorities.

It’s unclear whether Netanyahu will end his political career with a criminal conviction. I hope not. But it’s clear he is leading a dangerous campaign with reckless abandon and public corruption.

This is sad, because there are two Netanyahus. There’s the statesman, who only a few days ago returned from a successful visit to Brazil. And there is Bibi, who is trying to drag Israel into quicksand—we mustn’t allow him to succeed.

Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News