The left in Israel, the international and American media, students on many U.S. college campuses and anti-Semites everywhere think they have arrived at the moment they have been hoping for ever since Benjamin Netanyahu won his first election as prime minister in 1996. Labor unions in Israel have gone on strike, Ben-Gurion Airport was forced to close, some members of the military are threatening to quit and some civilians are refusing to serve in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), all because Netanyahu is attempting to reform a judicial system that has been hostile to him, politically and personally.
On Monday, Netanyahu bowed to the pressure when he suspended his plan. He promised to “give a genuine opportunity for genuine dialogue. One way or another, we will bring about a reform that returns the balance that has been lost between branches of government.”
The motivation behind Netanyahu’s effort at judicial reform can be found in his autobiography, titled “Bibi.” In 2017, after demonstrators showed up outside the home of then-Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, he acknowledged on TV that the charges the mob demanded Mandelblit impose on Netanyahu were “trivial” and “gossip.” Mandelblit opened a criminal investigation anyway.
“The first casualty of Mandelblit’s campaign,” writes Netanyahu, was Sara, the prime minister’s wife. “A disgruntled former employee who had been responsible for ordering food in the prime minister’s residence accused her of ordering in meals for official dinners from restaurants instead of using an in-house ‘cook’… Never mind that the ‘cook’ was actually a cleaning lady with limited cooking skills. Never mind that the expenditure on food in the residence skyrocketed during the former employee’s tenure and immediately sank after his departure. Never mind, too, that neighbors saw him regularly unpacking boxes of food at a relative’s home.”
Sara was charged with ordering the food and even though the case against her (and him) collapsed for lack of credible evidence, prosecutors kept it open.
Netanyahu gives titles to the other efforts the judicial system has used over the years to reverse the will of Israeli voters: “Failing to bring me down with double billing, pistachio ice cream, garden furniture, underwear and meal trays, my opponents realized that something more substantial was needed. Thus, in 2016, began the so-called ‘Submarine Affair.'”
The storyline, he writes, claimed he instructed the IDF “to purchase unneeded submarines and ships from (a) German corporation in order to benefit a company in which my cousin Nathan held minor shares.” He destroys that storyline in multiple paragraphs that must be read to be understood and appreciated. Outrage should follow, but the Israeli left just moves on to new charges.
The notoriously liberal Israeli media were all-in on virtually every charge against Netanyahu. It reminds of the American media’s favorable view of Russian collusion, the Steele Dossier and other frivolous and untrue charges against Donald Trump.
In all, writes Netanyahu, “the period spanning the police investigations, between June 2016 and December 2019, there were 561 news stories on prime-time television covering the investigations against me, 98 percent of them negative. This means one negative news story every other day for three and a half years!”
The delay in advancing his reform legislation brings risk. As The Wall Street Journal notes, “…if he delays the vote he risks the collapse of his coalition, as most of his allies are adamant on pushing ahead with the legislation.”
The delay will likely embolden Netanyahu’s political enemies, who have until now failed in every attempt to bring him down. He has been a force for good for Israel and the Jewish people. The same can’t be said for his political enemies.