Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
“It is important for me to emphasize that the only ones who determine who the prime minister will be are Israeli voters. That is the essence of democracy,” Prime Minister Netanyahu recently said.
That is what’s at stake here.
Fake news and fake cases have been used by the media and by political operatives to mask a real coup.
How do you win an election when voters won’t vote for you? You lie, cheat, and smear. And when that doesn’t work, it’s time to roll out secret investigations, midnight raids, and politically motivated trials.
What’s at stake in America and Israel is whether voters or unelected officials run the country.
The unelected officials have launched show trial coups. And the voters are responding by rejecting their credibility. While the media trumpets the coup’s accusations of “bribery” and “corruption”, and accuses Netanyahu and his supporters of “inciting” against the ‘branja’ of the judges, lawyers, and assorted special interests, public confidence in this political lefty mafia is at an incredible all-time low.
In a Globes poll, 44% on the Right expressed low confidence in the judiciary while 55% on the Left had high confidence in the judiciary. Only 23% on the Right had high confidence in the judiciary. 43% of Israelis overall had low confidence in the police and only 18% of Israelis really trusted the police. What explains these numbers? The next question found that 45% of Israelis believed that there was a high degree of selective prosecution. Only 15% believed that selective prosecutions were a non-issue.
The media claims that Netanyahu is “inciting” against the judiciary. But he’s just saying what everyone knows. The system is corrupt. And it abuses its powers to go after the targets of its corruption.
Right-wing Israelis didn’t turn on the system just because it went after Netanyahu. The system has always been biased against them because they’re outsiders. Even if you aren’t living in a town designated a settlement or an outpost, even if you aren’t Orthodox, a Russian immigrant, or anything except a secular Ashkenazi whose grandparents came at the right time, living in the right part of Tel Aviv, if you aren’t voting for lefty parties, then you lack the political connections to navigate business and simple everyday problems, from getting the power turned on to dealing with a parking dispute.
Every Israeli knows this is true.
The Right began its dominance of Israeli politics because most of the country loathes the corrupt system that the old socialists put into place to maintain control of the people and the country. They don’t just loathe it in the abstract ideological sense, but because they have to deal with it day in and day out.
They just don’t believe that there’s an alternative to the system. That’s what the indictment is about.
The indictment is based on the system’s expectation that it can take down Netanyahu and the Right. Or, as Caroline Glick recently put it, the opposition “stands on two planks – destroying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and eternalizing the regime of Israel’s unelected bureaucrats.”
And Netanyahu is making clear that it’s either him or the bureaucrats.
The actual case or cases against Prime Minister Netanyahu, as against President Trump, are a joke. They depend on media leaks, intimidation by political operatives within law enforcement and the judiciary, and a lot of hand-wringing about the moral downfall of the nation with very little evidence.
Case 2000 and Case 4000, the centerpieces of the coup against Netanyahu, both claim that the Israeli leader undertook to support certain policies in exchange for favorable media coverage.
As Caroline Glick noted in an important talk at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Restoration Weekend, “nobody ever heard of the concept that positive media coverage could be considered a bribe because in no country on the face of the planet is positive coverage considered a bribe because if positive coverage is considered a bribe, then journalism as a point of fact is a criminal enterprise.”
If the media providing positive coverage of politicians who support their agenda is a crime, every single politician and media boss would be in jail. That’s the selective prosecution part. And, as with Trump, not only is the prosecution selective, but it invents new crimes in the process of selecting them.
Both Netanyahu and Trump stand accused of usurping the media’s function. The media is supposed to spread fake news on social media. The media is supposed to investigate its political opponents. And the media is supposed to decide which politicians get positive or negative coverage for its own reasons.
Both Case 2000 and 4000 really indict Netanyahu and his wife for complaining about the media.
The rest of the blanks in the indictment were filled in with the assumption that when things went well for the heads of the two media companies at the center of the case, it was not only Netanyahu’s doing, but part of a quid pro quo in exchange for positive media coverage.
The obvious question that the average Israeli asks at that point is, “What positive media coverage?”
The indictment fails to document this positive coverage because that would require evidence. And evidence is the one thing that this otherwise exemplary farce of a document is tragically lacking.
The lead on the English site of Yediot Aharonot, one of two media entities that Netanyahu allegedly aided in exchange for positive coverage, is an editorial that declares, “Netanyahu is out of tricks.”
This isn’t a new development in response to the indictment. It’s typical of the positive media coverage that Netanyahu has enjoyed for quite a few years in which commentators and reporters debate whether he should be shot and then thrown into the river, or thrown into the river first and then shot afterward.
But beyond the absurdity of treating positive media coverage as a bribe or the reality that this alleged bribe that was never delivered, is that there’s no actual linkage between what the media tycoons wanted and any of the non-existent positive media coverage of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Instead the indictment is filled with claims about what both sides knew, understood, and assumed, without actually proving it. That’s not a case. It’s a set of theories about what a case might look like.
For there to be a bribe, there needs to be evidence of an arrangement and an exchange.
And that doesn’t exist in this case. The indictment makes it clear that there’s no actual evidence beyond the compelled testimony of browbeaten associates facing legal and personal problems on other fronts. Israelis have long since learned to discount the testimony provided by such state’s evidence. Giving formerly respectable people a choice between going to prison on other charges or telling the court anything it wants to hear is not a process that will produce witnesses with any credibility.
In the Trump era, Americans are learning to distrust these same tactics in political investigations in which men like Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen or Michael Flynn are dragged through the system on any convenient pretext in the hope that they can provide legal backing for a politically motivated campaign.
The hole has been filled by hysterical media coverage inventing connections that don’t actually appear in the case and can’t actually be proven. But they don’t need to be. If everything goes according to plan, then the Likud will either lose or be forced to sacrifice Netanyahu, and once Netanyahu is isolated, he can be bled with legal expenses until he accepts a plea bargain. Lefties will be back in power, directly or indirectly, and the Right will be crippled. And the terrorists will celebrate from Gaza to Beirut.
Like the Mueller investigation, this is a political gambit meant to be played out in the media. If the facts of the case face actual legal scrutiny, then the house of cards will collapse. They don’t expect it to.
The enemies of democracy expect the voters to be the weak point that will allow them to win.
The Mueller investigation was meant to flip Republican voters and legislators. It failed. The Netanyahu indictment is meant to flip Likud party members and voters. If that fails, then the indictment goes the way of Russiagate. The real test of representative government is whether the people will resist the inevitable plots by unelected officials to rob them of their representation under various pretexts.
In Israel, as in Europe, the Left and the Right have very different definitions of democracy. To the Left, democracy means the political norms of social democracy. That is why the Left will often describe losing an election as a “threat to democracy”. Leftists operate under Louis XIV’s motto, “L’etat c’est moi.” And their updated version, “la démocratie c’est moi.” A democratic election that “moi” lose is undemocratic.
The coups in America and Israel are a deeper struggle between elected and unelected officials, between open and closed systems, between freedom and tyranny, and between media power and people power.
A coup either ends with the defeat of the people or the plotters.
There are similar struggles being waged across the world, from Hong Kong to Tehran, from London to Jerusalem to Washington D.C. They are struggles between the power of authority and of the people. In all their different languages and under their different flags, they ask whether people will choose their own governments or whether they will be chosen for them by the authorities who really run things.
As Netanyahu said, this comes down to the question of who determines who will run the country.
Will it be the voters or the lawyers?