Israel: A country on trial - comment

Two of Israel’s former prime ministers are pummeling each other in a sensational trial that would cause Johnny Depp and Amber Heard to blush.

 Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu gestures at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 30, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu gestures at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 30, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

How far both the United States and Israel have fallen.

In America, the nation is glued to the January 6 congressional hearings with bone-chilling testimony of Donald Trump’s bald attempt to mastermind a bloody coup. At least there, the end goal is to arrive at the truth, learn lessons and begin a very long process of healing that will never likely actualize.

On this side of the world, there are no lessons, truth or healing possible. Instead, two of Israel’s former prime ministers are pummeling each other in a sensational trial that would cause Johnny Depp and Amber Heard to blush.

There is no good that can possibly come of it. Instead, it’s serving as a mirror to the ugly side of Israel that we don’t like to talk about – one that generally emerges in out-of-the-way places like Cyprus’s all-inclusive resorts and military checkpoints.

The proceedings that began Sunday at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court erase any lingering vestiges of decorum and mamlachtiut – an untranslatable Hebrew word that refers to civility and protocol – that the holders of Israel’s high offices, from Ben-Gurion to Golda to Begin, used to possess

“I have no psychiatric history,” Benjamin Netanyahu declared in the court, where he and his wife, Sara, were testifying in their defamation case filed by them and their son Yair against Ehud Olmert for his statements, saying the Netanyahu family had mental illnesses.

 Sara Netanyahu at the Netanyahu's defamation trial against former prime minister Ehud Olmert, June 12, 2022.  (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Sara Netanyahu at the Netanyahu's defamation trial against former prime minister Ehud Olmert, June 12, 2022. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

“I am not mentally ill,” added Sara.

How low we’ve sunk.

According to tweets from reporters present, Olmert’s lawyers brought out old statements by another former prime minister, the late Ariel Sharon, who once said Netanyahu was easily pressured and prone to panic.

Yair Netanyahu interrupted and said: “That’s from someone who undertook the [Gaza] disengagement to deflect the pressure from his own investigation.”

The younger Netanyahu broke protocol in the courtroom other times during the session, which seemed to be run like a combination of a stormy vaad bayit (homeowners’ committee) meeting and a political rally.

As The Jerusalem Post’s Yonah Jeremy Bob reported, other questions were asked about whether any of the three Netanyahus had ever used psychiatric drugs or received treatment for ADD or ADHD or for controlling physical trembling.

The entire proceedings are, simply put, lowering the discourse in Israel to new depths, from which it is unlikely we’ll ever be able to emerge.

A fitting verdict for this shameful trial would be a ruling that the Netanyahus and Olmert be forced to spend a week together at a Cypriot all-inclusive resort.