PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN speaks in the capital, December 2014..
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous, President Reuven Rivlin said on Wednesday.
The president, quoting from the Book of Deuteronomy, spoke at the opening session of the World Conference of Jewish Courts at the Ramada Hotel, Jerusalem.
The comment came hours after the disclosure of the country’s latest political corruption scandal.
Rivlin linked the biblical quotation with the contemporary relationship between (the influence of) capital and government, and spoke of the verse as a guideline for public office.
He also quoted the Talmud which says that the taking of a bribe immediately transforms the giver and the receiver into one and the same.
The public servant who receives a bribe no longer feels an obligation solely to the public, he said, but also to the person who plies him with gifts.
The lessons of the Torah and the Talmud are equally applicable to corruption of public servants in the Israel of today, with the result that the public servant is more concerned with his personal gain than that of the sector which he represents, said Rivlin.
Abusers of public office first and foremost harm the areas for which they are responsible, he said.
A member of a municipal council who awards tenders to people close to him, does an injustice to other bidders, as well as to the residents of the city, said Rivlin.
The politician who votes in accordance with wishes of his financial supporters harms the interests of the nation as a whole, he continued.
Every revelation of corruption by public officials erodes the confidence of the public not only in those elected, but also in the system, and if the public has no faith in the government, in a democracy such as Israel it can use its electoral power to bring about change, the president said.