Are we losing our minds? I once again admit - for the last time, because I'm sick and tired of doing so - that the prime minister is a friend of mine. After making this full disclosure, I will take the liberty to speak my heart. In no democratic country in the world is there or has there ever been a situation in which the president of the country is suspected of rape, the prime minister is under investigation, the finance minister is suspected of having taken a bribe, the justice minister has been convicted of a crime, the armed forces chief of staff has been forced to resign, the integrity of the candidate for commissioner of police has been placed in doubt, the tax commissioner has resigned as a suspect in criminal activity, the chairman of the parliament Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is under suspicion of breaking the law.
Paz-Pines: Olmert weakening rule of law
Can this be? Is it possible that all our government leaders are unprincipled, unworthy failures? Are we really that much worse than everyone else? Is our government really rotten from head to toe, especially the head?
It is clear that at least some of the accusations are justified. At the same time, it is obvious that we are witnessing a witch-hunt, something reminiscent of the atmosphere in the United States during the McCarthy era, when no civil servant or public personality knew when his head would roll. In this devil's dance, the media is playing the role of the Inquisition.
WE ONCE witnessed a similar scenario, when a large number of mayors and local council heads were suspected of various crimes and indicted. Only after some of them were acquitted did the prosecution lower its level of suspicion, giving the mayors a little more breathing room.
Perhaps the current wave of purges is proof of the strength of Israeli democracy, in which all are equal, but in which the chief politicians are less equal.
Perhaps the heads that roll will be replaced with pure heads. Perhaps the public finds satisfaction in the devil's dance being performed before it, although there is a danger that if the man or woman in the street becomes convinced that all the leaders are corrupt, they will refuse to play the patsy and will join in the circle of corruption.
Even if we assume that our national institutions are strong enough to withstand these shock waves, even if we ignore the damage being caused by the fact that the entire national leadership of all our major national institutions is preoccupied most of the time with collecting evidence, preparing for hearings, checking old documents and reconstructing events that may or may not have occurred; even if we take pride that what is happening is proof that Israel is a country in which the rule of law dominates - it will be difficult to liberate ourselves from the feeling that we are at the height of a whirlwind that not only benefits no one, but in fact, is causing great harm.
While the train of justice may be rushing in the right direction, it has also derailed.
Israel's top leadership has been taken over by an atmosphere of fear - personal fear (who will attack me and when), media fear (when will some reporter decide that it's time to destroy me), fear of making decisions (they may accuse me of something), fear of mudslinging (if I fire someone, she may accuse me of touching her), fear of making slight slips (someone gave me a bottle of wine), fear of accepting invitations (I may have to pay), fear of social gatherings (who knows who will be there) and fear of fear itself (as Roosevelt put it).
As someone who has never been the target of a criminal investigation, I permit myself to argue that the damage caused by Great Saints is sometimes greater than that of the little sinners. I am sure there will be those that will accuse me of defending corruption.
No, I'm not defending corruption. I'm defending sanity.
The writer is a former MK and justice minister.