The Real Threat to Israel’s Democracy Comes from the Office of Its Attorney General

October 25, 2019 | Caroline Glick
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Hovering behind the Israeli elections of April and September as well as the current coalition negotiations, are state prosecutors’ investigations into possible criminal wrongdoing on the part of Benjamin Netanyahu. The investigations have been public knowledge for three years, and the subject of endless media coverage. At issue is the charge that Netanyahu offered to pursue legislation benefiting a major Israeli newspaper in exchange for more favorable coverage. Caroline Glick argues that the charge itself, and the manner in which it is being pursued, undermine the integrity of democracy in the Jewish state:

The key question—indeed, just about the only question—that has been endlessly discussed is whether Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will end Netanyahu’s political career by indicting him on corruption charges. The importance of this question is self-evident. On the one hand we have a democratically elected leader. On the other hand, we have unelected state prosecutors who wish to oust him from power by indicting him.

In Israel, and throughout the free world, all politicians and all media organs maintain ties with one another as a matter of course. If Mandelblit accepts the state prosecutor’s position and indicts Netanyahu, practically speaking, he will render all politicians and media outlets in Israel hostage to state prosecutors. At their pleasure, the prosecutors can criminalize the routine practice of politics and journalism. They can investigate anyone, at any time. They can destroy reputations, squeeze politicians and media outlets financially by saddling them with legal fees, and even send them to prison. And at their pleasure, prosecutors can decide not to investigate politicians and media outlets, and so leave them free to attack their less fortunate colleagues as “criminal suspects,” and “alleged felons.”

At the core of the state prosecutors’ desire to arrogate the power to criminalize politics stands a rejection of the democratic principle that the public is the sovereign and the source of political power, and an ambition to replace the public as the sovereign. . . .

Prosecutors and police investigators have provided anti-Netanyahu reporters with a steady flow of prejudicial leaks from interrogation rooms and from the prosecutions’ internal deliberations. [But] the public has also been subjected to case after case in which other politicians have made deals with media owners that are substantively identical, and in some cases for more problematic than those Netanyahu is accused of having negotiated. In all of these instances, police investigators and state prosecutors have stubbornly refused to open investigations.

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