Israel’s uninhibited and consistently unrepentant Left loves to jeer. So when one of the Left’s more ambitious ventures – the witch-hunt against Avigdor Liberman – ended in unanimous acquittal, the knee-jerk reaction was to continue to taunt. Only this time, left-wingers direct their sneers at Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein for having failed to convict the man for whose conviction they hoarsely clamored.
Weinstein is now simultaneously disparaged for not having pursued “the major corruption case” against Liberman and for having lost “the minor case,” revolving around the appointment of the ambassador to Latvia.
Not a murmur of contrition is heard for seventeen years of slow ceaseless legal torture but there is a hue and cry over the fact that it didn’t achieve its political designs.
Nowhere is there a shadow of acknowledgement that the only impetus for the prosecution to pursue the so-called minor case was fear of a leftist backlash. Abandoning the full set of increasingly dubious charges against Liberman was sure to unleash a merciless onslaught by the remorseless and vindictive Left-dominated press.
From the PR point of view it was unwise for Weinstein to take his hands completely off Liberman because it was no secret that opinion-molders hated the guts of the Israel Beiteinu leader and were after his head. No one, not even the AG, could ignore the public’s presumed spokespersons and their proven potential for triggering utter pandemonium. Put plainly, Weinstein was wary of the Left and for good reason.
Although even the last surviving case against Liberman was pressed under overpowering political duress, its eventual breakdown failed to induce residual soul-searching among those who knowingly blew it out of all proportion, lusted for a conviction and campaigned for a guilty verdict shamelessly in print and on the airwaves.
The victim wasn’t just Liberman individually but our entire society. Our shared agenda was hijacked and held hostage by self-appointed guardians of our collective conscience who openly bayed for the blood of a political rival.
They excitedly fanned unsubstantiated accusations and composed the verdict ahead of any trial. Moreover, they attempted to enforce their prescribed verdict and make sure that no other version or interpretation of the facts would gain fair resonance. They had a priori formulated a gospel and obliged all their adherents to disseminate and strictly impose it on all and sundry.
Their sway is all-pervasive – hardly only in the Liberman case. Suffice it to witness the incitement-fest that accompanies the annual memorial rite on the anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. Indeed, once a year is not enough. We are treated to vehement vilification of ideological opponents twice – both by the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars.
Falsehoods long ago disproven and discredited are circulated again and again as an axiomatic premise. Anyone who wasn’t here or was too young in real time is led to believe that the entire Right, headlined by Binyamin Netanyahu, hoisted posters portraying Rabin in Nazi SS uniform.
So what if it was since firmly established that there was never a poster and that said nonexistent poster was never mass-circulated? There’s no question that the image was a small homemade photomontage on a standard A4 page. It was handed to TV newsmen by Avishai Raviv, who has since been exposed as a Shin-Bet agent-provocateur. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch personally approved fielding Raviv when she served as state-attorney (from early 1989 through the end of 1995).
Nonetheless, this Raviv-promoted printout is to this day exploited to besmirch Rabin’s legitimate political challengers. The assassin himself, moreover, was Raviv’s sidekick, goaded by him to do the deed. Mind-blowingly, all this prevents no one from artificially reviving outright lies at each fall season.
These same orchestrators of Leftist brainwashing have made Liberman-bashing a national pastime, which was then enthusiastically seized upon by Israel-bashers overseas (as are, to Israel’s detriment, numerous other pet items on the leftist agenda).
Liberman has been under unprecedented scrutiny at least since 1996. During nearly 17 years he was threatened with indictment on a series of charges – among them money laundering, fraud and breach of trust, emanating, it was insinuated, from illegal receipt of funds and concealing financial activity from state authorities.
The police homed in most menacingly on Liberman directly at the end of his tenure as director-general of the prime minister’s office. He then established a political party and two trading companies, one homed in Cyprus.
There’s no denying that 17 years is an inordinately lengthy time for any investigation, never mind its outcome. Yet what should foremost perturb every citizen is the spectacle of what is incontrovertibly a police project of exceptionally excessive duration, directed doggedly at a given individual but with mutating accusations against him.
It needs be noted that the bigger guns were initially aimed at Lieberman for supposed infractions of campaign financing regulations by his party, Israel Beiteinu. That case evaporated along the way but the investigators nimbly then changed their tack and began looking for other offenses.
For a time, bribery charges hung over Lieberman’s head although these too ultimately vanished. That’s when investigators began focusing on companies that were no longer under Lieberman’s name but which the police maintained he owned and operated clandestinely.
Much too close for comfort, the above resemble fishing expeditions, none of which in the end netted a catch. Moreover, unseemly methods were employed over the years in the course of these transforming inquiries.
It isn’t just our say-so. Already back in 2003, then-Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein, now a Supreme Court justice, published a scalding report on police misconduct, inter alia in the Liberman context.
Rubinstein recommended removing the then-head of the police investigations unit Moshe Mizrahi from his post. He charged that Mizrahi brazenly extended permissions he obtained to bug politicians’ phones and illicitly eavesdropped on their conversations and on those of any member of their family, including children.
Mizrahi, who has since been elected to the Knesset on the Labor ticket, was further accused of transcribing those conversations, as well as other material, and hoarding everything for undisclosed future use – including what by no stretch of the imagination had anything to do with the probes purportedly in progress. Mizrahi’s foremost victim was Liberman but he wasn’t alone, something which should send additional shivers down all liberal spines.
Rubinstein wrote that his findings made his hair stand on end: 70% of what Mizrahi had transcribed of Liberman’s conversations and faxes was wholly irrelevant to what he was ostensibly investigating. Rubinstein described himself as “sickened to see the nature of the material” Mizrahi saw fit to keep, after he unlawfully transcribed what shouldn’t have been eavesdropped upon. Mizrahi then illegally secreted these illegal transcripts.
Police transcribers under Mizrahi’s command themselves balked when asked to record conversations of spouses, youngsters, elderly parents, doctors, service-providers, journalists, friends and casual acquaintances. Transcripts of idle chatter and intimate talk remained in Mizrahi’s safe, some bound in files labeled “political.”
This is only part of what ought to engender great unease among all who cherish the rights of even those politicians whom they don’t necessarily relish. But the Left-dominated media wasn’t overly upset by any of this – to resort to extreme understatement.
Why? Because clobbering Liberman became de rigueur for winning leftwing credentials.
In 2010, for example, the Beit Berl Art College's Tel Aviv gallery mounted a particularly pugnacious exhibit named “Yvett” (after the nickname given to Liberman’s by Tzahi Hanegbi). It put on display unabashed character assassination under the guise of freedom of artistic expression.
One piece of unexceptional sculpture depicted Liberman as a pig. Crude photomontages turned Liberman into a demonic skull-nosed ogre with pockmarked features and flame-filled eyes.
Elsewhere cutouts of Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon declared (in German): “Ich bin ein Liberman.” The invitation itself was printed in Gothic font to impart Nazi associations.
A video featured a sadomasochistic sex scene in which the male wields a whip labeled Liberman, while the flogged female grotesquely regurgitates Liberman quotes.
The self-satisfied artistes and aspiring-artistes (for whom this was the apex of their exposure at that point in time) doubtlessly exuded glee. Yet in a country obsessed with castigating incitement, the Beit Berl provocation went remarkably uncriticized. It actually was lauded as a testament to our liberality and a forum for an authentic groundswell of popular protest (even if meticulously choreographed by a cliquey establishment parading incongruously as nonconformist).
It was more than doubtful that anti-Liberman animus so animated the 23 student-participants that their churlish masterpieces constituted irrepressible spontaneous outpourings of genuine emotional stirrings.
More likely, the outrage against Liberman (at no immediate instigation) was well coordinated and the works were commissioned from impressionable and pressurable students who were expected to smear the targeted prey. The unanimity of sentiment was too much to take at face value. Not only was there nothing vaguely kind to Liberman, but there was nothing even faintly neutral.
The anti-Liberman torrents in our daily papers and electronic broadcasts are of the same strain. Whether one is Liberman’s fan or foe, our media is the last venue where we might seek even a hint of objectivity.
Present abundantly is unadulterated hate. It’s all eerily on par with the “organized loathing” in George Orwell’s 1984. Big Brother’s arch antagonist was reviled regularly on the official “telescreen” daily “Two Minutes of Hate” feature, till his very image evoked hisses and reactions of “mingled fear and disgust.”
This is what 17 years of skewing were geared to evoke in news-consumers/objects of indoctrination.
However, no one apologizes for such outrageous attempts to set our tone. The trendsetters, who now heap scathing scorn on Weinstein, still insist on their righteous right to mold our minds and determine what’s acceptable and respectable. Anything they like is bon ton. Whatever they disapprove of is verboten.
Debunking the Bull, Sarah Honig’s book, was recently published by Gefen