money under the table corruption 311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The Israeli public sector is perceived to be more corrupt now than it has been
at any other time in the last 15 years, according to a global index released
Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index
ranked 183 countries on perceptions of public sector corruption. New Zealand,
with 9.5 out of a possible 10, was the least corrupt, while Somalia and North
Korea provided a stark contrast with scores of 1.0.
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Israel’s score has
gradually decreased since the index was first released in 1995, said Galia Sagy,
director of Shvil – Transparency International’s Israel affiliate. She said
Israel scored 7.71 in the first index, a far cry from its new score of
“This country is in a critical period, in which the nation is making
its voice heard and demanding social justice. The demand is for transparency,
information, ethical conduct, the separation of power and money and for a fight
against corruption – because corruption is one of the main causes of social
inequality,” Sagy said.
But Prof. Moshe Maor, an expert on corruption
from the Hebrew University’s department of political science, said Israel ranked
lower not because of a deteriorating situation but because of a few highly
visible cases in recent years. He referred specifically to the 2009 imprisonment
of former ministers Avraham Hirchson and Shlomo Benizri, the July conviction of
former Hadera mayor Shmuel Levy, and upcoming trials of other municipal
“These are just a few cases, but they are highly visible. As a
result there is a deep perception amongst the Israeli people and the Israeli
elite regarding the rise in corruption,” Maor told The Jerusalem Post. “I
believe there were similar levels of corruption in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80 and ’90s
as there are today, but now the media are much more aggressive in reporting on
Maor said other countries could actually learn from Israel’s
“efficient” anti-corruption structure. Numerous government agencies have power
of investigation, he said, naming the State Comptroller’s Office, Israel Police,
Military Police, Israel Corporations Authority, Israel Antitrust Authority and
Israel Securities Authority.
The problem is not the structure, but rather
two decades of government interference in the work of these organizations, Maor
said. He gave as an example the 2006 dismissal of Police Investigations Unit
head Moshe Mizrahi. Mizrahi was forced out of his position by then Public
Security minister Gideon Ezra, in a move seen by some as an attempt to stifle
the police’s abilities to listen in on politicians.
“It was a political
decision,” he said. “If the government was serious about fighting public sector
corruption, they would have provided proper funding for these agencies, wouldn’t
interfere in nominations and would stop attacking those agencies in the media,
[because] these attacks undermine the legitimacy of the fight against public
corruption, the legitimacy of these agencies and the legitimacy of the heads of
these agencies.”Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.