Theoretically the answer is yes.
An indictment, not to mention three, should be a clear sign that it is time to step aside and focus on clearing your name. Afterwards one can consider how to proceed. A healthy society should have no tolerance for even a hint of corruption.
The problem is that in the Middle East there is no room for theory. Here everything is more harsh, fast and absolute. Life and death. Black and white. Explode or not.
These are the 3 reasons I not only hope to God Netanyahu doesn’t resign but that he also continues to serve as Israel’s Prime Minister.
1. #MeToo: a good idea gone wrong
The #MeToo movement began with a very correct idea – those victimized by sexual abuse should be empowered to speak up, without shame for what happened (knowing they are not the only ones) and society should listen, taking their complaints very seriously. #MeToo embodied a powerful, positive concept which was supposed to be the basis of building a healthier society.
Unfortunately the #MeToo movement very quickly morphed into a way of punishing men, with no regard to how deserving (or perhaps undeserving) they are. An accusation of sexual misconduct became enough to destroy careers or, at best, leave a man’s reputation forever tarnished.
When the accusation is accurate and proportionate to the punishment, this is a good thing. But what happens when the accusation is false? Or when there was some mild wrongdoing but nothing so terrible as to merit becoming a social outcast?
The same is true with accusing the Prime Minister of corruption. The judiciary system must not be weaponized and used as a tool to remove undesirables from office.
In this case Israeli law specifically differentiates between a Minister and the Prime Minster. A Minister must resign immediately – with the understanding that after being cleared, he or she can run for reelection. The Prime Minister is given different status due to the difference in responsibilities and difficulty in attaining office. He or she can’t just “come back” like an average employee returning to work after a sick day. Forcing the Prime Minister to step down is a de facto end to their political career. As with #MeToo, in the case of guilt, this type of punishment is probably a good thing but what if the accused is innocent?
The accusation, even an indictment (or even three) cannot become a tool for removing a lawfully elected Prime Minister. Forcing him to step down in the name of morality is in fact an utterly immoral abandonment of the concept of innocence until guilt is proven.
No one, not even Prime Minister Netanyahu, should be forced to prove that he is innocent. It is up to the judiciary system to prove guilt.
In Hebrew there is a concept called “Eenewy deen” which literally means torture of the law. This phrase is a figurative way of describing drawing out a court case deliberately (or through extreme negligence) to unbearable lengths which, as a result, keeps the accused on hold, unable to proceed in normal life, keeping them captive to the whims of the judiciary system.
Israel’s court system is known to be overburdened and slow when dealing with anonymous citizens. Cases involving high profile people are often even more drawn out, particularly for those who don’t adhere to the establishment agenda. Avigdor Lieberman himself was held in legal limbo for a decade. There is no promise that Netanyahu will receive swift legal resolution thus the idea that Netanyahu could step down, swiftly resolve the legal issues and step back into any leadership role is disingenuous or, at best, disconnected from reality.
2. Deep State undermining the State
In her recent book Nikki Haley revealed some of the mechanisms of the Deep State at work in American politics. The Deep State is not a tinfoil hat wearer’s conspiracy theory, it’s the sad result of the divide between elected officials and career officials who think they know what’s best for the public.
Israel too has its own version of the Deep State. Netanyahu’s rivals have attempted to paint him as paranoid in order to weaken his image however this is not a matter of some vast conspiracy that “everyone is in on” but rather a confluence of desires, ambitions and basic human psychology that create a very powerful force that, for different reasons, is working to achieve the same goal – removing Netanyahu from office:
- Israeli elites – Having been out of power politically for decades, Israel’s elites remain the driving force culturally, making up the majority of Israel’s academia, media, judges, artists and bourgeoise.
In the early years of the country Ashkenazi Jews, members of the Haganah, supporters of the political left became the “ruling class.” For many years it was impossible to get a job if you didn’t “belong to the party.”
When Menachem Begin brought the Likud to power in 1977 Israel’s elites were in shock. They felt that “the country was stolen from them” by people less sophisticated, less knowledgeable and incapable of understanding what is the “right way” to do things.
Although decades have passed and the status of Israel’s Mizrachi Jews has changed, the influence of Israel’s historical societal elites remains and their feeling that they need to “take back the country” from those they see as “lesser than” still pervades.
- Group think – this is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Israel is a tiny country. It is only natural that people who join any of the elite groups in society (judicial system, media, high rank in Israel’s security forces etc.) will begin to conform to the general atmosphere of the system, leading individuals to conform to the ideas they see in the majority of their compatriots, although they may personally have opposite opinions. This isn’t a conspiracy, its basic human nature.
- Money – enormous amounts of money are invested by multiple sources (the New Israel Fund, George Soros and even governments of other countries) in order to undermine Israel as the Jewish Nation State. For example, the Wexner Foundation is dedicated to pinpointing societal influencers before they attain high ranking positions and insuring that these key figures are educated according to the ideals held by the Foundation.
Separate organizations put pressure on different aspects and influencers to move Israeli society away from Nationalism, traditionalism, connection to our land and preservation of borders and expand social ethno-economic divides.
For each of these groups, with their different motivations, Netanyahu is key.
In other words, it is difficult to see the indictments against Netanyahu as anything different than the attacks he’s been withstanding for years – which have nothing to do with Netanyahu the man and everything to do with what he symbolizes:
Benjamin Netanyahu is the symbol of a strong, proud Jewish Nation State.
HE is the reason the Likud remains in power.
Like the little Dutch boy with the finger in the dyke, Netanyahu is what stood between us and the flood of Jew-hate hate, power and money directed at our destruction.
HE withstood Obama, Soros and Iran, singlehandedly turning the tide of the “Palestinian” agenda to become one of partnerships with Arab nations.
For Israel’s Deep State and foreign enemies Netanyahu is the obstacle to achieving their goals.
3. Upcoming War
All people live repressing the fact that eventually we will all die. This allows us to go on about our daily business and make plans for the future although no one can ever know if they will actually live to see the next day.
In Israel, due to our reality, the precariousness of life is a more prominent part of our conscious decision making. Even so there are some who refuse to watch the news and many who enjoy the escapism of reality tv.
None of us want a war. We all know it’s coming.
The media, politicians and our security forces have gently released all kinds of information to prepare the public mentally. Netanyahu has been warning of the upcoming war and the threat of Iran for decades. Others have released reports and analysis of what is to come. General Brick’s terrifying conclusion is that the next war will make the Yom Kippur war look like a walk in the park.
In the Yom Kippur war 1 out of every 10 soldiers was killed. A tenth of an entire generation was lost. What’s coming will be worse.
It is Israel’s Prime Minister who will decide when I have to huddle in the bomb shelter while my son has to run through bullets to battle the enemy.
THAT is what choosing Israel’s Prime Minister is all about. That is why, when Israelis have voted for the left they vote for generals not bleeding heart liberal hippie types (although we have those too).
The accusations against Prime Minister Netanyahu basically consist of cronyism and receiving gifts that he probably shouldn’t have. While “not nice” those actions pale in comparison to the choice of who navigates the storm of dangers thrown against us.
Netanyahu has proven his extraordinary brilliance. We’ve walked in his footsteps across political and economic minefields. While other nations experienced disasters, we who are in constant existential threat, thrived. Over and over he has succeeded in doing the impossible for our country. There are other politicians who would like to take over leadership of the country but there is no other man like him.
Like there was only one Winston Churchill. One Steve Jobs. Netanyahu is in that same category. Should he be forced to step down it might be a relief for him and certainly his family but it will be a travesty for our nation.
7 thoughts on “Should Netanyahu resign?”
I may have to be the odd man out, but I think he should acknowledge that his time is over (having set the record for length of service as prime minister) and leave for the good of the country.
This may not be only because of the indictments, although that is bad enough.
But I think Israelis are wondering if it is really true that if Netanyahu resigns, it would be such a travesty for the country. No one is indispensable (contrary to the thinking of some). There are many people on the Right who would serve the State of Israel as well as Netanyahu has. With the consensus on issues from Left to Right, I do not think anyone else will deviate essentially from the current policies that Netanyahu has established. When a leader somehow gets to the point where he/she thinks the country can’t live without him/her–and we may have reached that point–this is dangerous for the country, no matter what he/she has accomplished. Although someone may be good in their particular office, maybe it’s time to establish term limits–serve your country, then go back home and let your successors continue.
Yes, Netanyahu has been a great leader. But everyone has to leave at some point, being gently, or otherwise, shown the door. That has been true ever since Ben-Gurion and every previous prime minister. To think that someone cannot be replaced is to border on a dictatorship.
And if that isn’t enough, consider that Israel has been through two elections with almost identical results. The Right with its 55 mandates is no closer to governing than Blue and White and its allies with almost as many. If Netanyahu can’t form a government, then maybe he is the problem. And regardless of indictments, he should be a statesman and give someone else on the right the chance to form a government, whether a unity government with Gantz or not. The fact that he won’t let go of power is a concern. It can’t all be the fault of Gantz, Liberman, et al. I would certainly like Netanyahu the chance to gracefully bow out. But if not, how much damage will it do to Israel?
Well, I had to speak my peace. I have little chance that this will change many minds, but I always like your writing, and we can feel free to agree to disagree.
Thanks for your well thought out, kindly written response.
Many people use the same train of logic that you detailed, particularly people who live outside Israel or Israel very influenced by ideas that are very American.
I grew up with the idea of term-limits. It’s a great idea. Everything you said is true – in THEORY.
The problem is that when you are choosing who will make life and death decisions for you and your family theory isn’t very relevant. You want the best decision maker possible.
Think about it this way – if your child had to have brain surgery but you knew that the best surgeon took bribes, would you choose the second best surgeon? Would you say: “I’m willing to try someone else?” It’s not trying a new restaurant, it’s your kids LIFE.
It’s true that everyone is replaceable. The problem is that, in this case, all the available replacements are less good.
The problems you detailed are very real. The Nation of Israel is divided in a fairly even way and none of us has any idea what will be. All we can do is pray and hope for a miraculous resolution that somehow is positive for our people and our future.
Forest, nevertheless we cannot afford to keep someone there just because the alternatives are “less good.” This does not mean that the alternatives cannot govern at all. While Netanyahu goes through his legal problems, Israel may be paralyzed when they need some leadership.
I think it would be preferable to have someone in Likud who can competently run the government to this situation. What if Netanyahu goes through the third election and draws even fewer votes for Likud, and the chance for a right-wing government disappears? I would rather have the unity government, even without Netanyahu, or the right-wing government, than this situation. If 55 votes is the best Netanyahu can do, it’s time to go.
I think you are mixing up two issues – the idea of someone stepping aside to “deal with their legal problems” (which is a way to keep someone guilty until proven innocent) and the issue of who gets the most votes.
Governments should be determined in the polls, by the people and not be the judiciary system or media brainwashing because the elites don’t support that candidates agenda.
On a personal note – the next Prime Minister of Israel will determine when my son walks into battle and we run to the bomb shelter. Life and death, nothing more, nothing less. There is only one man I feel comfortable with him holding our lives in his hands. He might not always succeed but I know with absolute certainty that he has the best, proven abilities to make the least bad decisions in terrible circumstances.
Never mind the phenomenal economic and diplomatic state the country is in thanks to Netanyahu’s actions and policies – it’s about life and death for the people who mean most to me, not theory.
I love the way you deliver uncompromising truths without mincing words. Yet you do so gently and without rancor. That is a great gift. Kol HaKavod!
That is a wonderful complement! Thank you very much 😀
Good for you.
For the fourth reason check out http://www.haforum.org/
Here is a background article about them: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/24419
In this case (Netayahu), this is an M.O. they use over and over. The legal system answers to no one and has been essentially rogue for about 2 decades since Aharon Barak declared everything justiciable. Everyone runs for cover from the courts today, except, it seems, Ayalet Shaked and she has begun the necessary task of reform, which is why they hate her so much.
I’m not a big fan of Netanyahu, but you are right, he must not resign.
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