The relatively minor suspicions against Prime Minister Netanyahu which have not yet been proven are not serious enough to oust representatives chosen by the public * Highlighting certain offenses among right-wingers while they exist on the left as well is itself corrupt * Even if failings are discovered in the government it is not fundamentally corrupt rather ethical, and provides for the weak * Violation of voter’s will is corruption * Demonstrations undermining the government harms millions of citizens who voted for it * Demonstrations heightening the chances of elections causes damage to the economy and society * A note on the customs of accompanying a bride and groom to the wedding canopy
Q: Why aren’t the rabbis joining forces with the demonstrators against corruption in the government and calling for integrity?
A: Because these demonstrations themselves are corrupt! They are organized by interested parties who lost the elections, and are now trying to change policy by pressuring police investigators and attorneys through legal means to topple the government and bring about elections. The Left was overwhelmingly defeated in the elections because the public was fed up with their political path and arrogant behavior, and now they are trying to replace the government by a disgraceful exploitation of ethics in order to advance their political goals.
The Crux of the Matter
The allegations against the Prime Minister are just suspicions. Nothing has been proven against him, and it is a well-known rule that judgment is not passed based on suspicions – all the more so when all the media reports are heavily biased. Even according to the slanted reports, the matters that the Prime Minister is under investigation for are gifts he received over a number of years, and added up to a total of several hundred thousand shekels. These are not large amounts of money for the Prime Minister – he could receive the same amount of money for one or two lectures after he retires. If he wanted to get his hands dirty in a weapons deal, like Ehud Barak, he could have received ten times more. The matters he is suspected of are related to improper behavior, but not the type that corrupts the foundations of government.
In every political party and government there were all types of corruption. It’s natural that people possessing power are sometimes tempted to use it for their own good, but even according to the suspicions, this is not an exceptional case.
Discrimination Is Corruption
The “purists” argue against us that the fact left-wing politicians behave corruptly does not absolve us from demanding right-wing representatives to act ethically, and if they don’t, we must join the leftists and demand they be brought to justice immediately.
Discrimination, however, is the most serious corruption. When politicians from the Left are judged leniently by the media and the courts, while politicians from the Right are judged severely, this is the gravest type of corruption. This is what leads decent people from the Left to believe that Right-wing politicians are about to destroy the judicial system and democracy, and if they are not stopped by all possible means, the State of Israel will go to ruins. This basic discrimination is what continually feeds the judicial system, police, and media to treat the suspicions against the Prime Minister so harshly. After the so-called “corruption” of the right-wing government was raised to the top of the flagpole, anyone who opposes them is considered a ‘tzaddik’ (a saint). Thus we find policemen leaking investigations and encouraging demonstrations against the Prime Minister, and attorneys who see it as their sacred duty to thwart government policy. Participation in these demonstrations strengthens the infrastructure of this built-in corruption.
In a similar vein, those who boycott the State of Israel because of its treatment of the Arabs create severe discrimination between the strict jurisdictions of the State of Israel compared to other countries in similar conflicts. This grave discrimination is the foundation of the deep-rooted hatred for the very existence of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
The Media is Not the Gatekeeper
The secular media claims that it is the moral “gatekeeper” of the public, and as a result it attacks Netanyahu and his government on corruption. But if they are gatekeepers, why didn’t they ever ask why Netanyahu is unfaithful to his party’s platform – to develop Judea and Samaria for the sake of the Jewish people? Why isn’t he loyal to his voters wishes to strengthen the Jewish character of the State of Israel, and why has he regularly capitulated to the judicial system, in its various branches, without doing what is necessary to restrain its power and restore the proper balance between the branches of government? The only explanation is that the media plays a role in the political debate and corruption is not at the top of its agenda, but rather, the overthrow of the right-wing government.
Our Disagreement with the “Purists”
It can be said that the root of our disagreement with naïve people who participate in these demonstrations for moral reasons touches on assessing the credibility of the media. Those who think that the media reports honestly are convinced that the case of Netanyahu involves unusual corruption. But even according to the slanted leaks this is a mistake. The majority of the public realizes the media is corrupt – only 30% trust it (according to the annual research of Prof. Tamar Hermann). And the public is mistaken – the media is even more corrupt than it realizes.
If the state of the government was corrupt, as the prophet says: “Your leaders are rebels, friends of thieves. They all love bribes and run after gifts. They give no justice to orphans, the widow’s complaint doesn’t catch their attention” (Isaiah 1:23), everyone would be obligated to go out and protest against the government. But the reality is completely different. Israeli society as a whole condemns theft and bribery, and anyone who is caught, is sentenced and punished. The government works persistently to assist orphans and widows, and all government agencies attempt to prevent discrimination against them. Are there problems? Of course there are. However the basic position is principled, and in actuality as well, there is no institutionalized corruption.
If there is a present need to demonstrate, then we should demonstrate against the judicial system which oppresses the public and appropriates for itself governmental powers, to the point where any public representative who attempts to implement the positions he pledged to his constituents is prevented by the judicial system, and anyone who tries to rein in the judicial system is in danger of libel, investigations, and political assassination.
Violation of Voter Trust is Corruption
The most serious corruption of public officials is a breach of voters’ trust. Private matters that do not amount to particularly serious offenses should be judged separately, after the period of public service.
The demonstrators’ claim that a government should be brought down on certain suspicions is a mortal blow to the public that elected its representatives to fulfill their mission for four years. Harming these public representatives cheats and embezzles the public’s right of being represented by its elected representatives. For example, the damage caused to former MK Yinon Magal, who resigned from the Knesset following allegations of improper behavior was unjustified, because even if his behavior was not completely appropriate he was elected as a public representative, and improper behavior in one area which does not harm his constituents is forbidden. His overthrow was not a punitive act against him, but rather against his voters who are now deprived of the distinct representation for which he was elected. Magal was elected as an articulate and active spokesman for national and Jewish values, and now his voice in the Knesset is missing.
No one objects that after the Prime Minister has completed his term he should stand trial and face justice, and if found guilty, bear full punishment. But now, it is not he who is being punished, but rather the public who voted for him. It naturally follows that all these demonstrations are not against Netanyahu, but rather against the millions of supporters who voted for the government.
If we were talking about a public crime of promoting businessmen at the expense of the needs of the state, or a serious personal crime such as murder, rape, etc., even those who voted for him to be their representative wouldn’t want such an emissary. But when it comes to offenses related to improper personal behavior, politicians have to stand up to the voters’ decision – if wanted, they’ll vote for him. If not, they won’t. And if illegal aspects are involved, he should be tried after his term is over.
Being Dragged into Elections is Detrimental to the Country
In addition to the injustice caused to those who voted for the government, every election campaign places the public in a whirlpool of disputes and quarrels, and also harms the economy by paralyzing the continuous functioning of government ministries and creates an election economy. When all of this happens as a result of minor suspicions relative to the damage – suspicions which have not yet been proven – this is an extremely serious blow to the public.
Not only that, but all these demonstrations taint the interrogation process by putting forbidden pressure on the interrogators, lawyers and judges. Thus we find leaks coming from all the interrogation rooms, officers involved in encouraging political demonstrations, and the public’s trust in the police and the judicial system is harmed. This also is a severe blow to the public.
The Custom of Chaperons in a Jewish Wedding
One of the most beautiful customs in a Jewish wedding is that of the chaperons (‘shooshvan’im‘) – those accompanying the bride and groom on their way to the wedding canopy, as is the custom of escorting kings and queens – while guests gather around them and dance. The accepted practice is that the respective fathers accompany the groom, and the mothers accompany the bride.
This is the custom in the Land of Israel, and in most Jewish communities. In recent times, families that immigrated from America have the custom that the groom’s father and mother escort their son, and the bride’s father and mother accompany the bride. There are rabbis who are very meticulous in maintaining the custom of the Land of Israel, and several are unwilling to arrange a wedding ceremony in which the customs of the Land of Israel are altered.
In practice, however, if the parents insist on this, since it does not entail a halachic prohibition, they should be allowed to do so. However, l’chatchila (ideally), it is proper to maintain the custom of the Land of Israel that the fathers accompany the bridegroom and the mothers accompany the bride, as this conveys a positive expression of the union of the two families by means of the children’s wedding. In Israel, when there is a disagreement between the two families, the traditional custom in Israel should be followed, according to which the respective fathers accompany the groom, and the mothers accompany the bride.
This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting, informative, and thought-provoking articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at: http://revivimen.yhb.org.il/