Friday, April 18, 1997

Assassination of the Prime Minister

Assassination of the Prime Minister
April 18, 1997

Those of you living outside of Israel may be slightly confused as to what exactly is happening here. On the face of it Channel One reporter Ayela Hasson is an Israeli version of Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein, rolled into one female investigative newsperson. The biggest scandal in a democracy since Watergate - the felling of a criminal Prime Minister.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is on the verge of indictment for fraud and breach of trust. Chief police investigator Sando Mazor recommended that Netanyahu, along with Justice Minister Zachi HaNegbi, MK Ariya Deri, and the PM’s Chief of Staff Avigdor Lieberman be indicted and tried for deals leading to the Bar-On appointment as State Attorney General.

The police recommendations and the LEAKING OF THESE RECOMMENDATIONS represent the most colossal act of injustice since the Kahn Commission investigating Sabra and Shatila forced Arik Sharon from the Ministry of Defense during the Begin administration.

My guess is that Netanyahu will be indicted, thus leaving him almost no choice but to evacuate his office.
Why will he be indicted? Did he do anything wrong?

Find me any prime minister, president, or head of state whose hands are ‘clean.’ Netanyahu is accused of ‘making deals’ in return for the Bar-On appointment. More than likely, this is absolutely false. Netanyahu wasn’t interested in Bar-On. His preference was attorney Dan Avi-Yizhak, the person named as the ‘mysterious witness’ whose testimony is the only affidavit of any wrongdoing, as is printed in police recommendations. Netanyahu gutted Avi-Yitzhak less than 24 before the appointment of Bar-On because of disapproval of the PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE. (These are the same people who are now going to rely on Avi-Yitahak’s testimony to indict Netanyahu!)

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that Netanyahu did make a deal. So what? What did Rabin-Peres do to push Oslo through the Knesset. What did Ariya Deri and Shas receive for their support? Millions and millions of dollars. Does anyone remember an MK named Alex Goldfarb? A total unknown, breakaway amateur politician who left Raful’s Tzomet party and voted for Oslo. His reward - a minister’s Volvo. He was literally bribed for his vote - and did anyone ‘investigate’ the crime?

Deals, legitimate or not, are part of government and politics. And worse than deals. Ancient history - it is a well known fact that in the 1950’s Israeli immigrants were threatened, literally threatened if they did not vote for the incumbent Labor party and David ben Gurion.

There seems to be no argument that Roni Bar-On was an extremely poor choice for Attorney General, but is this the reason for criminal indictment? It must be fully understood - we are not just dealing with a ‘criminal case.’ We are witnessing an attempt to ‘politically assassinate’ the Prime Minister. This is Labor’s revenge for Yigal Amir.

Why is this political assassination? This morning former MK Ariel Lynn, an attorney and one of the people who wrote the law dealing with the structure of the Prime Minister’s office, claimed on Israel radio that the Prime Minister cannot be ‘simply indicted.’ He may not even be investigated before the Attorney General allows it. The prosecutor’s office reported, in reaction, that they were ‘checking’ this allegation. The head of prosecution knows how to indict, but is unaware of the most fundamental Knesset law concerning the Prime Minister???

The Prime Minister was questioned once, for a few hours. He was not given any opportunity to respond to charges against him, propagated by the ‘mysterious witness.’ Normally, in most criminal cases, a potential accused is accorded the right to deal with incriminations against him. No the more so when dealing with a legal head of state? But no, the police simply recommended indictment.

What are the implications of indictment of the Prime Minister? New elections, and more than likely, not only a new Prime Minister, but a Prime Minister of the opposing party. Netanyahu’s premature departure will be an almost insurmountable obstacle for the Likud to overcome. The result: a return to the policies so well known over the past four years, and very possibly, the literal suicide of the State of Israel.

Why should Sando Mazor and Edna Arbel execute such a scenario? Because, this is the Israeli left’s answer to Yigal Amir. They blame him for early elections, leading to Labor’s defeat. They consider Netanyahu to be an illegitimate Prime Minister. It makes no difference that Peres admitted knowing that a majority of Israeli’s opposed Oslo, as he was achieving it. It makes no difference that Netanyahu received 11% more of the Jewish votes than did Peres. It makes no difference that PERES decided to call for early elections. The Israeli left actually believes that the premeirship was stolen from them. And they want it back. The best way to do that is to ‘kill’ Netanyahu. And that is exactly what they are doing. They are politically spilling his blood. Political assassination.

The two people making the decisions have the ability, based on their personal, political philosophy to change history. And why not? In their own eyes, and in the eyes of their political cronies, they are not only serving the nation’s best interests, but they are also taking revenge for Yitzhak Rabin’s death. For even if new State Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein nixes Chief Prosecutor Arbel’s recommendations to indict the PM, the case will undoubtedly go to the Supreme Court. We know exactly what the Supreme Court is made up of - we have too much experience with them. And the stain of the original police recommendation, unjustifiably leaked to the press, will leave an indelible stain that will make Netanyahu’s continued rule extremely difficult, if not totally impossible. This morning there are reports that Likud Ministers Limor Livnat and Dan Meridor are planning on resigning next week.

How should we view this episode. It is no secret that Netanyahu has come close to betraying all that he was elected to do. As a practicing, observant Jew, I believe that these events are no less than a curse brought on Netanyahu because of his abandonment of Hebron and his willingness to abandon other parts of Eretz Yisrael. He was put into office, and I use the word ‘put’ because his victory was a literal miracle, in order to neutralize the previous regime’s policies and change them, starting with Hebron. Netanyahu failed the test and now he is paying the price. There is, there really is a G-d in heaven.

All of that not withstanding, the current plot to overthrow the Netanyahu government is much more dangerous than Netanyahu. It is much more dangerous than Yigal Amir. For Amir was one person who took the law into his own hands, killing Rabin. That act has been condemned by everyone.

However, this attempt to assassinate Netanyahu is being initiated at the highest levels of government - not by a ‘Yigal Amir’ but by people holding the most senior public offices in Israel. It is being supported by those who desire to replace Netanyahu. In other words, this is nothing less than an attempted coup. Perhaps Netanyahu should be replaced, but not this way. If this coup succeeds, we can literally kiss Israeli democracy goodbye. The results will be nothing less than cataclysmic. I hope and pray that we should witness the same kind of Divine Intervention that brought Netanyahu to office and is now punishing him, to save us from the hands of the real, true criminals, whose motives are far from pure.

Sunday, April 13, 1997

The Bluff

The Bluff
April 13, 1997

Last week we were notified that the kidnappers and murderers of Israeli soldier Sharon Edri had been captured.  Almost. Two of them are in Israeli hands, three are being held by Arafat, and one was killed in the bomb blast in Tel-Aviv. We were also told that they killed another 11 Israelis, bringing back too many bad memories. My son’s teacher, Yaron Unger, and his wife, graphic artist, Effie;  Kiryat Arba X-Ray technician Zev Munk, together with his wife and her father; Dr. Oz Tibon and medic Yaniv Shemen, both serving in the then Israeli Hebron Military Compound, all slaughtered in cold blood by the freshly captured terrorists.
                Effie Unger’s parents, Rabbi Uri and Yehudit Dasburg, had an interesting reaction. On Israeli television Yehudit expressed her feelings, saying that now the terrorists, no longer uncertain of their fate, could live off the tax-payers' wages, until a deal was made for their release. 

Last week a few of us met with Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai. Following the attack against two Yeshiva students in the middle of Hebron, during which an acidic substance was thrown at them which burned their face and hands, and led to the shooting and killing of one of the attackers, the security situation in Hebron deteriorated rapidly.  In reality, since the commencement of work at Har Homa in Jerusalem, just before Purim, rocks, bottles, and firebombs flying in the direction of Beit Hadassah have become a daily occurrence. The IDF, rather than forcefully repulsing the attackers, does pitifully little. Several days ago, when close to 100 Arabs nearly stampeded into the Beit Hadassah Complex, the four soldiers present took positions behind bulletproof outposts.  A Beit Hadassah resident dispersed the would-be murderers by shooting in the air. His weapon was immediately confiscated and he was taken for questioning at 10:30 p.m.
                This morning, while Arabs hurled rocks into Beit Hadassah apartments, soldiers stood meters away, in Israeli-controlled territory, and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  Instead, Israeli police tried to convince Hebron’s Jewish residents to leave the back porch of Beit Hadassah, the target of the attack.  We answered them negatively. “If we leave, you won’t do anything, because there won’t be anyone to defend.” When Hebron children, some of whom had friends injured by the rocks, and seeing that the IDF was standing by as if nothing was happening, began returning the stones to their original owners, they were threatened with arrest.
                The meeting with Mordechai was primarily geared at mollifying us. He invited us to meet with him at a military base in Hebron. The subjects discussed were reported in detail by the Hebron Press Office. But there is a point I must stress.
                One of the major pledges made by the cabinet before the signing of the Hebron Abandonment Accords was that of building. We were promised, specifically, that we would be able to build within the Jewish area of Hebron. So far, almost 10 months of the Netanyahu reign, and nothing. This point has been raised at almost every meeting with all major military and political personalities. We spoke of this again last week, with the Defense Minister. His response was predictable: The government has already issued the permit to construct Beit Nahum b’Yehuda. However, the timing must be taken into consideration.  After the present situation stabilizes, the army is  authorized to grant final permission to begin.
                This is ludicrous for at least two reasons. First, once the situation does stabilize, assuming that it does, will the army be willing to possibly rekindle the fire by allowing Jewish “settlers” to build in Hebron?  Why didn’t they let us build before the deterioration in security?
                In addition, who is the person with the authority to make the decision? His name is Uzi Dayan, General, Commander of the Central Region. Yitzhak Mordechai has placed all the responsibility in his hands.  Who is Uzi Dayan? He was one of the major architects of Oslo. He sat in Washington drinking coffee with the Syrians, planning Israel’s abandonment of the Golan Heights. His life’s philosophy is somewhere left of Shimon Peres.  HE is the person Netanyahu’s government has empowered to decide     WHEN we build in Hebron.  When will he allow it? NEVER! He doesn’t want us to build in Hebron - he doesn’t want us to be in Hebron!
The Israeli media is presently dealing with the major political issue in Israel: A national unity government. In case a majority of the Labor Knesset member oppose joining forces with Netanyahu, (which incidentally, is the case), a new idea has sprouted: Shimon Peres will join the government independently, even without approval by the Labor party.
                So, what direction are we going in? It is totally unbelievable. Our Prime Minister is very seriously considering returning the most dangerous person in Israel today, who is, more than anyone else, responsible for the calamity called Oslo, to a position of power and decision-making. Totally unbelievable.  What can we do about it?
                There is already talk of a ‘different’ candidate for Prime Minister for the next elections. Several names are being thrown around: Benny Begin, Natan Sharansky, Uzi Landau, and Limor Livnat.  This past Shabbat, while touring Hebron with some very important guests, they asked me, “If you could chose anyone you want, who would you want to be Prime Minister.”  They told me that they asked several of my colleagues the same question. So I queried, what did they say? They told me, answer first.  I thought for a few minutes and then shrugged my shoulders in frustration.  Seeing me, they told me, “your friends answered the same way.”
                I think that we have to spend less time looking for a Prime Minister. Rather, we have to decide how we want to rule - how are we going to make decisions. Are we going to continue to live according to America’s decrees and Arafat’s dictates, or, according to the way we are supposed to live, as Jews, in Eretz Yisrael.  Do we have to live behind fences, walls, and electric gates in Hebron, like we lived in the European ghetto, or proudly, as Jews, living freely in OUR COUNTRY - IN OUR LAND?
                As we approach the holiday of Passover - the holiday of freedom - our national birthday - we must remember one thing. There are two kinds of liberation: physical and spiritual.  Physically, we are, more or less, independent.  But spiritually, we are still enslaved - enslaved  to the mentality of a besieged people ruled over by others.  We still aren’t used to the fact that WE ARE A FREE, INDEPENDENT PEOPLE - LIVING IN OUR COUNTRY - IN OUR LAND.  When there is a national consensus that we must assert ourselves as does any independent, autonomous people, in our land, we won’t have a problem finding a Prime Minister, because he will have the full backing of his people, sharing with him responsibility for his decisions. Unfortunately, today, our ‘leaders’ are always looking over their shoulders, protecting themselves for the next ‘committee of inquiry.’ It is impossible to ‘lead’ without self-confidence -without knowing that what you are doing is right. That is what is happening today.  Our task today is to return our national pride to our people. Because today, our so-called leadership is nothing more than a bluff, afraid of its shadow.  We too were fooled by the bluff, we thought that Bibi would be different.  It is time to see through the bluff and reach out to the roots of the problem. When that is solved, the rest will follow.