Another Tack: Selective swarms

Hornets are predictable creatures. You mess with their nests and they get nasty. Imagine, for instance, what a hornet's nest would be stirred up if a top former federal prosecutor in Washington contended that the attorney-general had issued directives to lay off corruption allegations involving the president. Odds are the resultant contention and commotion would be at least worthy of Watergate. All this, though, ain't necessarily so in Israel. Our hornets swarm selectively. The above hypothetical really happened here, yet it didn't get any hornets stinging-mad. In fact, it failed to excite even a low-volume buzz. Most Israelis aren't even aware that anyone tried to tamper with those skittish wasps. Liora Glatt-Berkowitz - the prosecutor who lost her job after blowing the whistle on the Cyril Kern affair - set off veritable firecrackers among the pugnacious insects. According to her, the AG had instructed the state prosecution not to pursue probes into Ariel Sharon's financial finagling. That's why the senior Sharon himself was never indicted, and why son Omri was left holding the bag - or the puny remains thereof. What had been previously put in motion couldn't be completely stopped, hence Omri had to become the fall guy. He escaped with a minuscule sentence (and even that may be overturned on appeal), while his plea-bargain prevented the holding of an open trial where the role of the felony's beneficiary (his father) and identities of his benefactors could be revealed. The AG, who, according to Glatt-Berkowitz, safeguarded Sharon, was Elyakim Rubinstein (since promoted to our Supreme Court). Having been accused of colluding to obstruct justice, he might have been expected to slap Glatt-Berkowitz with a whopping slander suit. But that, alas, was rendered quite superfluous by the media, which now shield Rubinstein as they have shielded all their favored politicos, primarily Sharon the elder. It denied resonance to Glatt-Berkowitz's potentially explosive allegations. THERE'S NO certainty there's any substance to them - yet, once made, such charges cannot be pooh-poohed without serious inquiry. Nevertheless, they're ignored in our public discourse. It's as if the ex-prosecutor had never uttered a sound. Nobody reacted. Nobody investigated. Israel's press became an accomplice to numbing the public. This is symptomatic. It sheds light on how our legal eagles and media hotshots systematically watched over the headliners of what would become Kadima as soon as these honchos saw disengagement's light. When Glatt-Berkowitz first took on Sharon (prior to his about-face), she was the trendsetters' heroine. Now she's a non-person. Rubinstein's successor, Menahem Mazuz, closed the "Greek Island" file, yet didn't thereby overly upset the media hornets. It's a safe bet, however, that were the suspect's name Netanyahu, sanctimonious shrieks about a nefarious cover-up would have been ear-shattering. The prosecution and media wouldn't have let Netanyahu off their hooks, just as they didn't during the Hebron/Bar-On affair, where not a shred of concrete evidence existed. (Bar-On, incidentally, became a respectable establishment spokesman, after espousing disengagement - all the more so since he abandoned the Likud for Kadima's safer and greener pastures.) Sinister unsubstantiated speculations sufficed to smear Netanyahu. Most memorable is the tin badge - valued at five agorot, but sensationally touted as an extravagant brooch - that Sara Netanyahu received while touring the diamond exchange. SHRILL SHOUTS of righteous indignation would have followed revelations that Netanyahu sold his house to an American multi-billionaire - a serial meddler in our politics - and continued to reside therein. But since the vendor's name is Olmert, he hasn't been accused of using his real estate in a fictitious transaction to accrue illegal funds from a known contributor to left-wing causes. There's no squawk about any untoward link between money and power. Kadima's campaign managers are patently unperturbed. They assume the electorate couldn't care less. Voters who overlooked the Greek Island, Cyril Kern or the Schlaffs of Jericho Casino fame aren't going to be bowled over by Olmert's deal. They're likewise undisturbed by the fact that the man who might soon be making life-and-death decisions affecting ordinary Israelis, and who'll demand sacrifices from us all, instilled debatable values in his children. His two sons currently reside abroad. Shaul, an adherent of Yesh Gvul (which refuses beyond-Green-Line military assignments), is now based in New York. Ariel, who never did IDF service, lives in Paris. Olmert, if elected, might soon be exposing other folks' kids-in-uniform to perils his own boys are spared. His daughter Dana, a Machsom Watch activist, will meanwhile interfere with the duties of soldiers manning checkpoints to prevent terrorist predations. Will paratroopers agree to risk their lives in Nablus and Jenin when their PM's son refused to do so? This may be judged immaterial by voters who weren't shocked by Sharon's illegal takeover of his party, which catapulted him to national leadership, whereupon he proceeded to trample the National Camp. Because of that betrayal he was protected by journalists and jurists, who disregarded his wrongdoings so long as he furthered their ultra-dovish agenda. When Sharon slipped into a coma, the AG - who closed all files against him - declared the PM temporarily incapacitated, thereby automatically appointing his deputy the caretaker. Had Mazuz pronounced Sharon permanently incapacitated - which he is - Olmert could be challenged. Mazuz made sure he wasn't. Bottom line: The illicit rise to power by one premier was followed by his illicit replacement - a fact that immeasurably brightens the understudy's electoral prospects. Broadcaster Razi Barkai was perhaps right to assert that "Israelis don't mind corrupt leaders, so long as they aren't suckers." That's why no swarms of angry hornets blacken our sky.