Trump was born into serious money, while Bibi was educated in a series of prestige institutions. Yet both pose as the plucky champion of the excluded, persecuted by the same permanent, snooty elite that has kept the little guy down for so long. “We are being attacked all the time, every minute and every hour,” Netanyahu complained on Thursday. “Listen to Israeli citizens who support us and who want justice.”
But the courts in Israel are hearing evidence from those who want justice from Bibi:
Case 1000 centres on allegations of old-fashioned bribery: gifts of cigars, champagne and the like to Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, from a pair of billionaire businessmen who, the PM admits, he helped out, including on “tax issues”. Case 2000 alleges that Netanyahu sought to cook up a deal by which he would use the law to hurt one newspaper in order to boost the economic fortunes of its rival, in return for warm coverage from the latter.
Case 4000 is similar, an offer to a media tycoon to ensure state policy favourable to his telecoms company, in return for positive coverage of Netanyahu from a news website owned by the magnate. What could prove most serious is Case 3000, which accuses some of Netanyahu’s most trusted consiglieri of fraudulently profiting from Israel’s purchase of submarines from a German company. (The PM is not yet officially a suspect in the submarine affair, but as Aluf Benn, editor of the liberal daily Ha’aretz, told me, this threatens Netanyahu most because it touches on the military and national security – areas Israelis regard as “sacred”.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, the evidence supporting cases of money laundering, obstruction of justice and Russian influence peddling keep piling up.
It's no wonder both men greeted each other so warmly at their White House meeting five days ago. There may not be many differences between the two men. But there are differences in their political systems. Freedland delineates them:
The big difference is in their countries’ systems. Ultimately, the only real recourse against Trump is political, by bringing impeachment proceedings in Congress. But in Israel, as the attorney general clarified this week, the law – enforced by institutions doing their jobs, in the face of intense political pressure – demands that an indicted prime minister leave office, no matter how strong his political position.
It will be interesting to see what happens to both men.
Image: The Times Of Israel