Government corruption in Israel: “A house bearing a steel shield, eaten by termites from the inside”…

By Joseph Zernik

The annual, three day “national security” conference in Tel-Aviv boasted a long line of senior US and Israeli government and corporate officials. This year, the organizers changed the topic to “national resilience” – including government corruption as a key factor in evaluating the strength of the state.

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The annual, three day “national security” conference in Tel-Aviv boasted a long line of senior US and Israeli government and corporate officials. This year, the organizers changed the topic to “national resilience” – including government corruption as a key factor in evaluating the strength of the state.

el-Aviv, July 2 the Herzlia Conference has concluded today. The annual conference is focused on national security. Here we have heard a long line of current and former US and Israeli government officials, as well as European, Chinese, Russian… (official English site [i]) The 3 day conference has been intensively covered by media, generating daily headlines, even in Russia Today. [ii]

This year’s conference has departed from the format of previous years, focusing on “national resilience” instead of “national security”.

The organizer, 77 year old retired major general Amos Gilead, [iii] has explained the change in focus both in his opening and the concluding remarks: The traditional “national security” is too narrow a concept, since the ability of the state to overcome security threats and stressful circumstances, including war and hostilities, also relies on other factors, beyond those traditionally considered under “national security”. First and foremost among those additional factors, Gilead has named the threats inherent in government corruption. During the 3 day conference, Gilead has repeatedly described the problem as “a house bearing a steel shield, eaten by termites from the inside”…

Gilead has never elaborated during the 3 day conference his own relevant personal experience. However, he has made a comment about the fact that when he served in the security system he had no free moment. Now, when he reads about top security officials, who are suspected of being part of a high level corruption ring, he can’t figure out how they could find the time for working out the corrupt deals, and how they could find the time to run their official duties in parallel…

Giead’s last official position was as Head of Security-Political Division in the Ministry of Defense, and prior to that Head of IDF Intelligence Research Division. It is largely due to his long career in such positions that the conference has managed to attract the impressive list of speakers. However, Gilead appeared in the headlines in recent months, when it turned out that he went to police to file a criminal complaint and testify against current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, part of an unprecedented corruption scandal involving the procurement of advanced submarines, capable of launching nuclear missibles. [iv] The convoluted massive corruption scandal, involving the German TyssenKrupp corporation and Netanyahu’s closest circle and family relatives has been the center of public discourse for the past three years. Some of the suspects have already signed plea bargain agreements. [v]

Beyond the submarines affair, Netanyahu now faces three separate indictments on Deceit, Breach of Trust, and Bribes. With it, Netanyahu ran an out of schedule general election in April 2019, which failed to generate the desired outcome from his perspective, and has scheduled another, unprecedented general election for September 2019. The entire state machinery is practically paralyzed, held hostage by Netanyahu for his personal expediency in fighting against the filing of the indictments”

President of the host IDC academic center, Prof Uriel Reichman, [vi] has also delivered unusual concluding remarks today. Reichman has described conditions in Israel as hijacking of the state by the Jewish orthodox messianic/settlers in collusion with the ultra-orthodox sector. Reichman called upon the majority, secular Israeli public to retrieve the state from such captivity, and struggle to maintain its democratic character.

Such comments are particularly notable on the background of multiple speakers, high ranking current and former Israeli officials, who openly discussed the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as ongoing occupation with no voting or civil/human rights accorded to the millions of Palestinians under Israeli rule. It is notable that pro-Israel US officials, participating in the conference, have voiced the strongest opposition: One Jewish, current US official has stated that “one man-one vote” is a principle that is ingrained in the “American DNA”, that the ongoing occupation is making the A-word (Apartheid) irreversibly associated with Israel, and making the B-word (BDS) increasingly popular, that Israel would not be able to maintain US public and government support in the manner it is accustomed to under such circumstances.

The issues are all tightly tied together: It is the orthodox settlers and ultra-orthodox sector that drive the concept of annexation of the Palestinian territories with no voting/citizenship rights for the Palestinians. Such concepts are now gaining support from Trump administration, in particular from US Ambassador to Israel, the Jewish orthodox David Friedman, in what should be deemed interference in Israeli internal affairs. It is the exact same circles that form Netanyahu’s hard core support, willing to ignore the corruption for the messianic vision of greater Israel…

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