Normally, we’re allowed to discuss everything, even the salaries of senior judges and police officers. And if we want, we can even demand a pay raise for the prime minister.
There’s no taboo. Everything can and should be on the table. Even a law granting the prime minister immunity from police investigations, in a slightly more reasonable version, is an appropriate subject for a public debate.
But these are not normal times. We are in the midst of a dangerous campaign against the heads of the law enforcement system. They are not immune to criticism. But in the past few months, something completely different has been happening. There is neither a relevant nor a serious discussion taking place here. There is a police investigation against the prime minister, and any attack on his investigators turns into part of the campaign.
In the past, the criticism—and it’s okay to criticize—was based on political persecution. The heads of the State Attorney’s Office were said to hold one opinion, and the interrogees held an opposite opinion. But now, it’s an entirely different story. We have no idea what the political views of Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh or Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit are. All we know is that they don’t belong to the old elites. They are the flesh and blood of the right-wing government. Their appointments were approved and encouraged by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Not everything that could have been argued against former State Attorney Edna Arbel can be argued against Mandelblit, who used to be one of Netanyahu’s associates, or Alsheikh, who used to be a settler. We are in a completely different situation.
But that isn’t helping, because of Likud’s Knesset members, with all their initiatives and bills, aren’t interested in some kind of an improvement. They want to intimidate. They want to silence.
And no, this isn’t a dispute between Right and Left. That’s the false impression they’re trying to create. It’s a dispute between a camp of his Royal Highness King Bibi’s submissive slaves and all those who want a civilized country. On one end we have a handful from the Right. On the other end, we have the majority of the public—from the Left and from the Right.
But MK David Amsalem and his partner, Coalition Chairman David Bitan, have the power. Too much power. Their strike could be harmful.
The salary change initiative is clearly an empty initiative, just like the initiative to bar the police from recommending indictments at the conclusion of an investigation. There won’t be a salary change, and the decision on filing indictments is in the State Attorney’s hands in any case. There will be absolutely no change in the situation of the senior interrogee, his royal highness.
But Amsalem and Bitan have only one goal: To incite and intimidate. They want to create a further rift. They want their public of submissive loyalists, even if it’s a minority within the Right, to use violent and intimidating language. That’s a dangerous gamble. Mandelblit and Alsheikh likely won’t be scared. But these initiatives have the potential of a match in a place filled with gasoline fumes. Netanyahu is watching from the side and thinking: Blessed is the match.
Allow me to add a proper disclosure: In recent years, I have published blatant and profound criticism against judicial activism, the police, and the State Attorney’s Office. It’s possible that of the 50 arguments raised by Netanyahu’s supporters, two are correct. Maybe even three. But when the goal is not criticism for the sake of repair, but criticism for the sake of destruction, Amsalem and his ilk are silencing relevant criticism. There’s no need to supply them with weapons for the sake of destruction.
The public discourse needs a real discussion, on every issue, even on the salaries of senior police officers. But not now, not as part of the campaign for his royal highness. If there is an ounce of integrity left in Netanyahu, and I assume there is, he should shake off these fans of his. They aren’t helping him, they’re harming him.
Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News