My Mideast Punchlines: the circus comes to town

Speaking to the cameras today moments before entering the Jerusalem District Court room in which he is now on trial for corruption, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed a furious assault on his accusers — insisting that the charges against him are absurd and fabricated, that he is the victim of an attempted political coup by the police, the state prosecutors, the left and the media, and that the entire skewed process is designed to remove him, and the right-wing camp he leads, from power for years to come.

Almost all of what he said on Sunday afternoon he has said before, in similar speeches broadcast live into the nation’s living rooms by that allegedly biased and hostile media over the past two years: That the coup attempt is a consequence of the left’s failure to remove him from power at the ballot box for a decade; that his police investigators are corrupt; that the state prosecutors have invented a crime especially for him that is on no democracy’s lawbooks — that of attaining favorable media coverage; that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is weak or is being extorted because he has something to hide; that the public knows all this, knows the truth. And, finally, that he will emerge vindicated and continue to lead Israel.

biffRoll up, roll up, folks, the circus has finally come to town. And it looks like being in town for many more months to come. There are all sorts of left-leaning prey animals to gape at: media tigers, legal alligators, hyperventilating hot-air hippos, the so-called expert pundits who can tell a guilty man when they see one. And, make no mistake, Bibi Netanyahu is as guilty as hell. He’s guilty of being a consummate politician, a maneuverer, a manipulator who has steered Israel for longer than any previous premier. He’s also guilty of turning Israel into an economic powerhouse, while at the same time increasing the gap between rich and poor. Yes, Bibi is guilty of a lot of things. But what he is not guilty of is jeopardising his career and his legacy for a Havana cigar, a favour to a friendly businessman, or a few kind words in the antagonistic media. Bibi is probably wrong when he says all three of the judges trying him are a bunch of lefties. Nevertheless, if they find him guilty of the charges against him (Google the details), they will have joined the circus themselves — as clowns.


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