He’s back

1 Shevat 5776 Jerusalem Hanoch Ne’eman (c)

This week a politician returned to the office he held some 21 years ago, heading the Ministry of the Interior. By the way, I am 21 years in Israel, so these events are the scenes of my life, or rather the scenes of our national political life which I have experienced. However, in the meantime he served some time in jail for taking bribes. As some Rabbis have said, such as Rabbi Berel Wein, in most places (meaning America, for example), such a sequence of events would preclude any thought of return to political life, let alone to assuming a ministerial position. It behooves us to try to understand why this works differently in Israel.

I would like to explain in on two planes; the plane of the voters and the plane of the other politicians, both of whom are accessories here.

This party has voters who do not care if he went to jail for bribes. They think he was framed, or that he is no better than anyone else in politics, and are glad he is working for them. This politician always plays the racial card, making his constituency out as the mistreated, and himself as the mistreated.

That this constituency can add up to several seats, is, largely, a result of our single district party system. If we had local districts, this party would likely have less seats, (as most parties would).

Secondly, the question of how this politician could return to a ministerial position.

Forgive me for being blunt, and I would be happy to be proved wrong about this, but I honestly believe it has to do with the B-word. (Blackmail). That is the same reason his trial dragged out for years and years. Only when it was politically feasible was he actually nailed. He has a lot of dirt on other politicians, and he knows how to use it. He is a great politician, in the pejorative sense of the term.

And he still knows how to use it. Significantly, the return of this MK to the post of Interior Minister is a potent rebuttal to the thesis expressed by many that, “It really does not matter much if the truth comes out about the Rabin Assassination. Anyway, Amir pulled the trigger, what does it matter if the bullets were fake and it was a fake assassination? In the end, those fake bullets caused Rabin to die, so is it not right he should sit in jail?” 

Not only is this claim wrong on legal grounds, since there is a major difference between accidental and intentional homicide, (no one usually sits 20 years in jail for accidental homicide), but it is even more wrong in political terms. You do not think that Minister X knows what went down with the assassination and would hesitate to use it as one of the guarantees of his getting the post he wants? That is the modus operandi of his whole careeer!

So you see these things do matter. As our Sages said, “One sin leads to another” (Pirke Avot).






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