Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz made it crystal clear on Sunday that he’s not happy with Israel right now. He’s “had it up to here.” They “should be deeply ashamed” for the way they’re tying to railroad their Prime Minister. Just like the congressional kangaroo court impeachment that President Donald Trump was forced to endure, Israel’s Knesset is trying to make the rules as they go. Benjamin Netanyahu calls it “an attempted political coup against the will of the people.” Gee, that sounds familiar.
‘Unprecedented’ Dershowitz declares
Alan Dershowitz is a household name, associated with many of America’s biggest trials including the recent plot to impeach President Donald Trump, despite the fact the Democrats couldn’t list a single valid charge against him. Things are even worse over in Israel right now with what the professor calls an “unprecedented” political stab in the back. Netanyahu is the first Israeli leader to stand trial while still in office and similar to what happened with Trump, “the charges being brought against Netanyahu are not crimes.”
“What Israel is doing is using vague, open-ended and broad statutes in order to create new crimes that have never, ever been used in a democracy before,” Dershowitz insists. Basically, what they are doing amounts to putting Netanyahu on trial for standing up to fake news outlets. “Israel is the first country in modern history to ever put a political leader on trial for trying to get good media coverage or trying to eliminate negative media coverage,” the expert argues.
Just like the American Congress would never allow “good media coverage” to be considered a bribe, “the Knesset would never in a million years pass a statute making it a crime to try to obtain good media coverage.” If they did, the former member of O.J. Simpson’s Dream Team argues, “half of the members of the Knesset would be in prison.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu was framed
As the Prime Minister’s so-called “trial” kicked off, Netanyahu made an opening statement letting his citizens know that he understands the score and is the victim of a political assassination attempt. Under the cold hard stare of the TV lens, he called the investigations “tainted and stitched-up.”
It’s a total misuse of authority, he claims. “This is the rule of law? This is democracy? They invented a special clause for me that doesn’t exist in any law book in Israel or the world. How absurd.” According to the prime minister, the people see through the nonsense and recognize, “this is an attempted political coup against the will of the people.”
He has three bogus charges hanging over him. Case 1000 claims Netanyahu and his wife Sara took illegal gifts from billionaire benefactors including Arnon Milchan, an Israeli-born Hollywood producer and Australian businessman James Packer. Case 1000 “fails,” declares Dershowitz. “Israel should have never brought a criminal prosecution based on 1000.” The remaining cases, 2000 and 4000, “are different.”
Suspected of striking an illegal deal
Case 2000 accuses Netanyahu of playing let’s make a deal with media mogul Arnon Mozes. The effect of that deal would allegedly “weaken the Sheldon Adelson-backed daily Israel Hayom.” As compensation Netanyahu would have obtained “more favorable coverage in Mozes’ Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.”
Netanyahu says that’s preposterous. He “specifically voted against the law that would have weakened Israel Hayom,” and he risked his political career to do it.
The thing Netanyahu really has to address is Case 4000. It swirls around Israeli telecommunications company Bezeq. The prime minister allegedly eased up regulations “in return for the phone company’s chief shareholder Shaul Elovitch giving Netanyahu positive coverage on his news site Walla.” That, Netanyahu points out, is the first time in history “a politician would be indicted for allegedly exchanging favors for positive news coverage.” Dershowitz agrees.
Under the law in Israel, officials aren’t allowed to “receive gifts” and have to report any if they do. According to the Harvard professor, the law is way to vague. They don’t specify exactly what they mean when they say “gift.” Particularly they don’t say when a gift crosses the line to become a “bribe.” It’s a flaw that needs to be fixed by their lawmaking body but until they do, it isn’t a chargeable offense.
“Let the Knesset say, ‘anything up to 10,000 shekels is okay, but 10,001 shekels is not okay.’ You cannot have a statute that leaves it up to the prosecution to decide how much is too much,” argues Dershowitz. “It gives them too much discretion and allows for the selective prosecution. If you want to make it a crime, many states in the United States have made it a crime, to accept ‘more than 10,000 dollars, 1,000 dollars. Set it up. Then if the numbers exceed it, that’s the end of it.”