Corruption and Power: A Marriage wrought in Sin


Corruption according to the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language: “Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery”.

Binyamin Netanyahu, Current Prime Minister: Case 1,000; Case 2,000; Case 3,000; Case 4,000(?): Under Investigation.

Ehud Olmert, Former Prime Minister and Mayor of Jerusalem: Breach of Trust; Bribery: Convicted

Arye Deri, Minister of the Interior: Bribery; Fraud; Breach of Trust: Convicted

Arye Deri, Minister of the Interior: Tax offenses; Money laundering; Breach of Trust: Under Investigation

Haim Katz, Minister of Labor: bribery, fraud, breach of trust and forceful extortion: Under Investigation

Avraham Hirschson, Former Minister of Finance: Theft: Convicted

David Bitan, Coalition Whip: Bribery; Fraud; Breach of Trust: Under Investigation

Shimon Gapso, Former Mayor of Nazareth Illit: Bribery; Breach of Trust; Money laundering; Violation of privacy: Convicted 

Moshe Dadon, Head, Mate Yehuda Regional Council: Rape; Bribery; Fraud; Breach of Trust: Under Investigation

Uri Lupolianski, Former Mayor of Jerusalem: Bribery: Convicted

Zvi Bar, Former Mayor of Ramat Gan: Bribery; Money laundering: Convicted

Faina Kirschenbaum, Former Deputy Minister: Bribery; Fraud: Convicted

Stav Meseznikov, Former Minister of Tourism: Fraud; Breach of Trust: Convicted

Dov Zur, Mayor of Rishon Lezion: Bribery; Fraud; Breach of Trust: Under Investigation

Shai Brosh, Former Commander in Israel Navy: Bribery; Fraud; Breach of Trust: Under Investigation


If anyone still needed an explanation, this is not an honors list of prominent Israelis, this a (very) partial compilation of current and former Israeli leaders of different levels, who are being investigated or have been convicted of what may be summarized as a blatant and scandalous disregard of the main justification for the position they have or had: to serve the Israeli people. Instead of working for the good of the people and being very handsomely paid for that, they misused their position to enrich themselves. Where I grew up there was a name for this. They called it theft.

Corruption in Israel has reached levels of Third World nations and it may be safely assumed that we have seen only the tip of the iceberg of money that changes hands under the table.

Those with a more positive outlook will say that corruption happens everywhere but at least we can be proud that the system is handling it, investigations are conducted and people are tried and go to jail when convicted. Indeed a reason to feel encouraged, but investigations take a long time, are often hampered by politicians and are often considered political warfare. The argument is simple: accusations of corruption are made to get back at or simply hurt others and may not have a factual basis. However, the fact that somebody is investigated is a blot on his career and may even destroy it. Indeed Israeli politics may have sunk so low that this is happening but it cannot be a reason not to investigate allegations of corruption. If they are falsely made, this will be established and the accused will be exonerated. Moreover, in sensitive cases, the police should have the opportunity and authority to perform initial investigations without this becoming public so that careers will not be harmed. It is up to the Knesset to pass legislation to enable this and it should be done in conjunction with the establishment of very clear and in particular, short timeframes to prevent endless uncertainty. However, I am not sure politicians are interested in such legislation; it would take away an important weapon to hurt their opponents.

But why is corruption in Israel so rampant, and how can we put a stop to this? There is only one real reason: US.

Politicians and public figures behave the way they behave because we let them. We the public, are completely indifferent and the couple of hundred demonstrators in Tel Aviv and elsewhere do nothing to change that notion. Some may be genuinely concerned but others are surely politically motivated and some may even have personal axes to grind.

The overwhelming majority of the Israeli public goes about its business and cannot be bothered by the stories of cigars, champagne, building contractors or submarines. Do they realize that it is their money that is being stolen? When a building contractor in Rishon Lezion is willing to pay millions in bribes to get the contracts, does anybody realize that those millions are being paid by those who buy the apartments in the end? When a shipyard in Germany pays millions to all kinds of shady Israelis, does anybody believe that those millions will come out of their profits? They are simply added to the price of the submarines and we all pay the price of indifference towards corruption! It is time to wake up, time to say out loud: no more!

Since Israel is a “Democracy”, the only option the small man in the street has is the ballot box. But elections are planned for 2019 only and so we have only the street to go to and protest. And that does not seem to take off very well. The real power to stop the madness and lead the way to change rests with our representatives in the Knesset. Only they have the power to enact legislation that will curb corruption, only they have the power to force corrupt politicians to leave the stage. So what are they waiting for? For politicians to acquire some decency and step back, at least temporarily when allegations of corruption surface? We all know that is not going to happen.

I wonder if Carl Sagan meant what is happening in Israel today when he said: “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back”.

It sure seems like it……..