A two part essay about Project 315, the citizens’ rise against government malfeasance. Benjamin Netanyahu’s indictment part one, in which the aspiration for power by unelected power players erodes democracy.
Though not all the names mentioned herein the reader will be familiar with, this is how Israel’s legal establishment and the police unseated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It is a lesson to take heed of.
If one thinks that Trump Derangement Syndrome was unique to the American people, please just think again. Israel has Netanyahu Derangement Syndrome.
The political-media machine that worked, for years, on derailing Benjamin Netanyahu from his premiership career should not be able to sleep well at night because four Israeli citizens are determined to refute any letter and any section in the indictment cases’ documents against Netanyahu.
The four are: Guy Levy, a company owner from the city of Beer Sheva, Dr. Adi Szabo, a Psychologist from the city of Haifa, Moshe Mallal, a hi-tech professional from the community of Matan, central Israel, and Moshik Kovarsky, an entrepreneur and technologist from the city of Ness Ziona, central Israel. These four are the founders of the 315 Project.
It is worth noting here that I am not for or against Benjamin Netanyahu. I am for democracy, the rule of law and against all governmental body shenanigans.
I was given the opportunity to conduct an extensive interview with Moshik Kovarsky, one of Project 315 steering committee members who has a very impressive resume; married, a father to two daughters and a grandfather of five who has a major rank in the Israeli army and won prizes for his intelligence work; won the Rothschild Award for industrial development; does much volunteer work, including teaching mathematics at high school; the Chairman of the Atlas Committee that is in charge of finding the best hi-tech companies in Israel and also finalized two successful startup company venture capital exits.
To my appalling dismay I learned from Moshik how deep the political corruption in Israel goes. The following is what I learned from Moshik with some of my own opinions added.
Moshik Political Background
Since his childhood, Moshik Kovarsky was very interested in politics and was rather political map savvy, though, not even part of the political Rightwing. From 1996 to 1999, Moshik could not define himself as a Netanyahu supporter. He is even sad to admit that in 1999 he did not vote for Netanyahu, rather, for Ehud Barak who was a member of Israel’s Left political rainbow. Moshik admits that like so many in Israel he was a victim of the media’s brainwash that has been going on in the country for the last 25 years and intensified in the last six years.
Following Moshik’s road to Project 315, in 2000 when the 2nd intifada broke up in Israel, he veered to the political Right, first supporting Ariel Sharon and since 2009 he became an avid supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu Derangement Syndrome Build-Up
Since 2015, when a series of investigations of Netanyahu’s conduct as Prime Minister began, each night on Israel’s main television channels the announcers and commentators, selectively, viciously and with intense background music, read to the public information from the investigation room that was not allowed to be leaked.
In general, people did not care much, one way or another, about Netanyahu; they just wanted the media blitz to stop. So much so that this media blitz received the name, the ‘compressor’ because every night, for endless months, the media was bombarding the public with information about Netanyahu’s alleged legal cases when all the public wanted was to put an end to it.
The end goal of this media campaign was to remove Netanyahu from the Prime Minister’s office he manned for over a decade. Though for a while it was touch and go, eventually they achieved their goal. Netanyahu and the political right wing lost their ruling power to become the opposition and a concoction of incompetent political parties’ coalition, glued to each other in the zest for power, corruption and deception, replaced Netanyahu and the long ruling Rightwing coalition.
Netanyahu, the Prime Minister
Like many others in Israel and around the world, Moshik’s support for Netanyahu was not about the man’s character or the person, rather, because of two factors: ideology and execution.
When it comes to execution, Moshik sees Netanyahu as a very careful political chess player. As Israel’s Prime Minister, at times he would take moves that appeared to be a gambit but at the end he achieved his set up goal. For instance, the formidable task to dismantle the Oslo Accords, most dangerous to Israel’s existence.
Netanyahu almost achieved this goal.
The Abraham Accords are in fact the start of breaking down the Oslo Accords, the beginning of this incomplete goal Netanyahu set up to achieve. Had President Trump and PM Netanyahu remained in power, they would have had the opportunity to continue their mission and the end result could have been not only great for Israel, but the entire Middle East and beyond.
Most unfortunately, the dismantling of the Oslo Accords process was cut short when these two leaders lost their posts and with Israel’s newly formed government, Israel is heading back to the dangerous path of the Oslo Accords.
On the economic front, which gave Israel more economic freedom, Netanyahu’s achievements worth mentioning are: the way he handled the newly discovered large natural gas deposits in Israel’s Mediterranean basin that gave the country energy freedom and he was instrumental in making Israel a cyber power, both of which even Netanyahu’s opponents cannot refute, cannot question.
There is however room to question, with reservation, why Netanyahu did not dismantle Israel’s powerful legal system and the media conglomerate, both are now out to hurt him badly. Yet, one can argue that if he did it earlier the assault on him would have simply come earlier and he would have not been able to achieve the other achievements as mentioned above.
One other hindrance, Netanyahu never had the full support of the ruling Rightwing coalition majority nor the growing public awareness that now exists in Israel.
Already in 2015, Netanyahu spoke about changing the legal system and perhaps only 10% of his electorate would have known or understood what he was talking about. Today, it is more likely that 60% of the population want the formidable existing legal system to be reformed. Because as it stands now, the legal system creates a total shake of the balance between the three branches of government, the legislative, the judicial and the executive.
The Judicial System
As it stands today, the judicial system in Israel has taken over power and is deciding, against the majority rule, what to do in any presented legal case. Case in point, the illegal infiltrators entering Israel from the southern border phenomenon that took place from 2006-2011. Uninvited foreign people illegally crossed the southern border into Israel and have put down illegal anchors in the county.
Netanyahu was pushed to solve this problem.
And so he did, going against the security establishment. He built an effective border fence in the south of the country from where the infiltrators crossed the unsecured border line into the country’s inland. At one point about 1,700 infiltrators entered Israel illegally each month. For a small population country such as Israel it was a huge number. Regardless, there are now some 50,000 illegal infiltrators staying in Israel. They took over the south part of the city of Tel Aviv and are making the lives of Israeli citizens living there miserable and unsafe.
Netanyahu’s Actions, the Cause for the Judicial System and Media Ruse
What Netanyahu tried to do was to pass a law that would allow to detain them, only at the time when they are ready to return to their country of origin. They would receive a flight ticket and a nice sum of money to help them get a new start elsewhere. The Supreme Court in Israel, again and again, rejected the attempts to pass this law and Netanyahu did not have support in Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, to veto the Supreme Court interference in the will of the people. There was always one party or another to block this suggested law from coming to be.
One other case was the media. Netanyahu was gung-ho, as Moshik was and for many years including campaigning for it, to open the media market to competition. Reason being, during the early 90’s, by law, the Israeli government was the one to allocate the right to the networks to advertise. If one wanted to establish a media channel and finance it from advertisements, it was not allowed. And so, the government would only give the right to advertise to their media cronies.
The outcome was that the media conglomerate of Israel channel 12 and 13 both control the media cycle. While Netanyahu did his best to open the existing tightly held media market to competition, for them he became a major opinion and economic market threat and they decided to make an effort to depose him. That was part of the reason for the ongoing Netanyahu derangement syndrome media campaign, part of the coup by legal and media means.
Additionally, in 2015 Netanyahu wanted to annul the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) that was very costly to the Israeli tax payer. If the government has a radio station, as it is, why not a newspaper? While everyone may cringe if one talks about a government newspaper, then, what about the existing government radio station and TV channel? Besides, in the era of a large variety of channels available to the viewers, there is no longer a need to have the costly government funded IBA. Even having the army channel that is always supporting the political Left’s agenda, paid for by taxpayers through the defense budget, is redundant.
The legal system also joined in the ‘Just not Netanyahu’ campaign. First, because he wanted to monitor the legal system that acted as it is above the law, and also reforming it would take away their status above the government to legislate power.
All the above mentioned factors played a role to start a legal campaign against Netanyahu.
Before the 2015 election these elements already tried to chase Netanyahu out of office. Then the media went mostly after Netanyahu’s family with tabloid journalism.
In the 2015 election the Left in Israel used the V15 group to try unseat Netanyahu’s Rightwing coalition. During Barack Obama’s presidency, the US government supported the V15 group that tried, to the tune of nearly $350,000, or NIS 1.3 million, to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. US government resources ended up, not illegally, in V15’s hands and the US State Department was chided for seeking to influence internal politics of its ally Israel. Yet, Netanyahu won the election.
Establishing the Legal Offense on Netanyahu
After the 2015 election, the media and the justice department came to the realization that they need to take a new approach, which was to attack Netanyahu himself, not his family, as the public made a distinction between the Netanyahu family and the Prime Minister himself.
The legal attack was specified in four prongs:
1/ The communication infrastructure in Israel;
2/ The media market and his attempt to create new communication channels
3/ The natural gas explorations;
4/ Security: the submarines the government approved purchasing, case 3000, for which Netanyahu was never indicted and was taken off the list of indictments.
And the attacks were vicious. The most vicious was the case of the submarine purchase. This file came under national security top secret status and Netanyahu was limited in defending himself, not able to divulge national security details. In this case Netanyahu’s attackers were able to spread as many lies as they wanted while he was muzzled to defend himself.
As for the natural gas explorations, with the help of Yuval Steinitz, first acting Finance Minister and then the Energy Minister of Israel, Netanyahu made Israel natural gas secured. With the price of gas sky high these days, people in Israel simply do not understand how much they owe him for sheltering Israel from the ongoing hikes in the world gas price.
Netanyahu’s attackers succeeded with the first two legal offense prongs to bring him in front of the courts.
This investigation that began in 2016, on all fronts and without legal authorization, concocted by: Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit who commenced his post in 2016; the chief prosecutor shai Nitzan, already in office since 2015; Police Chief Roni Alsheikh, a religious “settler” from the community Kokhav HaShahar in the Judea and Samaria District who served in his role from 2015 to 2018 and was scorned for fitting the pejorative term “settler,” and thus needed a media makeover.
Alsheikh found out that Roni Rittman, the chief of the Lahav 433, the Israeli crime-fighting umbrella organization within the Israel Police, was accused of sexual harassment. Rittman believed that Netanyahu was behind these accusations and thus he, allegedly, went after Netanyahu with a vengeance, as well he poisoned his boss’s mind to also go against the Prime Minister.
To top it all, Alsheikh, the incoming Police Chief, hired Lior Horev and his PR Company. Horev who hated Netanyahu, realized that smearing Netanyahu would help boost Alsheikh’s image, and thus he started a barrage of leaks from the investigations’ room that harmed Netanyahu a great deal.
The headline in one of Israel’s site was: “Lior Horev: Alsheikh’s property and the Achilles heel of the police.”
A spokesman for Netanyahu claimed that, “since the Political Adviser Lior Horev was appointed as an external police adviser, at the cost of millions of taxpayer Shekels expense and without a tender, the illegal leaks have become a tsunami.”
In Israel there is a basic law that an investigation of a government minister, certainly a Prime Minister, requires a permit from the Attorney General prior to launching any investigation. In Netanyahu’s case, they started an illegal investigation before Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit signed on any documented permission to investigate. The attackers first collected data that they were not allowed to collect and only after the fact they approached the AG for signed permission.
This could be compared to the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, which the FBI abused.
The Indictment Process
The cases against Netanyahu, all started in 2016, are numbered as indictment case #1000, #2000, and #4000. One can think that the cadre of attackers probably wanted to add more case numbers and with that to convince the Israeli public that Netanyahu was the most corrupt Israeli politician ever.
Of course investigation costs money and so far, by conservative investigation, it is estimated to have cost Netanyahu’s detractors 300 million Shekels ($94,407,309), which could be detected from the huge rise in the Ministry of Justice budget, while everyone in the government is literally afraid of them. The reason being, they can indict anyone and finish his or her career at their will.
There are even rumors going around that the police hold in its vault information about every politician in Israel which they can pull out at the appropriate time, with no time limitation, for the prosecution to act upon. Once they start an investigation they can go on investigating for years, holding the person they are after hostage for as long as they want.
And who is monitoring the police actions? The department within the public prosecutor’s office. And so, one hand washes the other while they do their targeting bidding.
Netanyahu’s Indictment Was A Fraud
Moshik says that the Israeli public should be grateful that Netanyahu did not succumb to the legal harassment; rather, he let the trial go forward and through his trial all this information, previously unknown to the public, was revealed.
I.e., Nir Hefetz, one of Netanyahu’s aides whom they brought to the witness stand. In his trial his investigators revealed that they did not even know what they were investigating him for. All they wanted from Hefetz was a confession, testifying that Netanyahu knew about the bribe he is being accused of that never happened. Hefetz did not cooperate and in turn they tortured him, denied him food and sleep, put all kinds of pressure on him including on his wife. Yet, Hefetz had nothing on Netanyahu, not any bribery facts.
For their next move, the prosecution got hold of Nir Hefetz, Ari Harow and Shlomo Filber, the closest persons to Netanyahu who spent years with him. They had them sign as state witnesses, which they did, because otherwise they could have been indicted for felonies which had nothing to do with Netanyahu. They would forgo their possible ‘indictments’ only after they testify in court against Netanyahu. Like a horror story, under so much pressure these state witnesses signed the agreement with the prosecution to testify the truth, while the prosecution was hoping that Netanyahu would fold.
On March 5, 2018, the prosecution announced to the world that they had three state witnesses and the media was celebrating. Yet, Netanyahu remained resolved; he did not fold because he knew he was innocent.
Moshik’s bottom line saying to people who do not like Netanyahu or have Netanyahu derangement syndrome: “you live in a democracy, do not vote for him. However, having the entire legal system putting its heavy hand on the scale and tilting it means sabotaging democracy.”
This ends the first part of this two-part interview. In the next part I will unfold the coup and what can be done to safeguard democracy.