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December 26, 2017

[Video] The specter of a revolution is haunting Israel

By Joseph Zernik

Growing signs of collapse of the legitimacy of all three branches of government -- an ongoing constitutional crisis in a nation with no constitution. IDF remains the one institution that still generates high levels of trust and support.


Growing signs of collapse of the legitimacy of all three branches of government -- an ongoing constitutional crisis in a nation with no constitution. IDF remains the one institution that still generates high levels of trust and support.

(Image by Itamar Pirchi - by permission)   Details   DMCA

Figure. Cardboard guillotine in Tel-Aviv protest on Saturday, December 23, caused a media tempest.

Video. Tens of thousands in Tel-Aviv protested on Saturday, December 23, against government corruption, calling for Netanyahu's's resignation and indictment.


Tel-Aviv, December 25 -- news this evening reported that former IDF Chief of Staff/former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, met with current IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisnkot in the former's apartment 24 hours prior to Barak's statement regarding potential IDF and Shin-Bet disobedience and rebellion. [i]

This detail gave a new twist to Barak's last Friday's statement, which generated headlines and upheaval in the political system, that "the most right-wing government ever will cause an uprising and civil resistance and disobedience by senior IDF officers". [ii,iii]

On Saturday night, competing demonstrations were held in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. The Jerusalem demonstration drew several hundreds, and was organized by right-wing figures under the title, "for the rule of law". [iv] The most notable speaker in the Jerusalem demonstration was former Defense Minister/former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, member of Netanyahu's Likud party, and now one of his fiercest critics. He reiterated what former Netanyahu National Security Adviser Uzi Arad had stated in the Tel-Aviv demonstrations - corruption "is a greater danger [to Israel] than the Iranian threat, Hezbollah, Hamas, or the Islamic State."

Recent demonstrations have been packed with former top security apparatus figures. [v]

The Tel-Aviv anti-corruption, anti-Netanyahu demonstration, drew tens of thousands. It was part of the Saturday night demonstrations, ongoing now for over a year, which were held until recently near the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Mandelblit is perceived as stonewalling investigations and prosecution of those involved in government corruption. [vi]

A single demonstrator in Tel-Aviv, a graphic designer, who marched with a cardboard guillotine, created a media frenzy. The President, political figures denounced it as incitement for assassination. Media claimed that police started a criminal investigation. [vii] The culprit, Amit Brin , claimed in his own defense that he meant it as a "cigar clipper". Such claim was a comic reference to one of the series of corruption investigations engulfing Netanyahu and his associates: For years, Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan supplied Netanyahu pricey cigars and his wife pink champaign and jewelry -- upon demand . The matter is part of a series of investigations of bribing and quid pro quo. [viii]

The guillotine specter is of course reminiscent of demonstrations held in 1995 by Netanyahu himself, prior to PM Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. Netanyahu then led demonstrations with a coffin marked Rabin and a noose. [ix] The Rabin assassination is an unfinished business in Israeli politics, splitting society to this day.

In late October, President Reuven Rivlin warned against "winds of revolution" sweeping Israel. [x] Such remarks were made in his official speech at the opening session of the Knesset, and were described as an attempt to keep Israel from descending into an abyss. [xi] It was directed against Netanyahu and his supporters, denouncing their tactics vis a vis the deepening corruption investigations. Rivlin is also a former member of Netanyahu's Likud party, but the President and the Prime Minister are not on speaking terms.

Netanyahu, his supporters, and the Sheldon Adelson- sponsored propaganda organ, Israel Hayom, have been leading for months a frontal attack against police and its chief, Ronni Alshech, hand-picked for the job by Netanyahu himself . [xii] Netanyahu and Police Chief Alshech are also reportedly today barely on speaking terms...

The assault on police was led by majority whip, MK David Bitan, a Netanyahu confidant. Bitan resigned last week, following intensifying corruption investigation. [xiii] The affair, regarding which Bitan is investigated, goes back some years, and there are clear innuendos that the investigation is a police retribution against his vocal criticism.

In the midst of it all, one of Israel Police top investigators, Meni Yitzhaki retired last week . He has led the investigations against Netanyahu in recent years, and was repeatedly asked to extend his service and postpone his retirement. In his farewell speech he stated that "we have a wonderful state, which is not corrupt", but he added there were buds of organized crime in government... [xiv] Yitzhaki gained notoriety, when it was revealed that he kept secret files on Member of Knesset...

Also last week, MK Stav Safir (Zionist Union) and former Treasury Ministry Chief Accountant Prof Yaron Zelekha petitioned the Supreme Court, claiming major fraud in the Treasury's accounting systems. They claim that the Treasury is engaged in a major fraud on the Knesset. [xv] Such claims are not new. The novelty here is that Prof Zelekha, an insider, has joined the petition. However, Zelekha's position in this affair is a bit tenuous. On the one hand, he is a vocal critic of government corruption, known for his statement, "a gang of criminals has taken over the State". He is also the author of a book on "macro-economics of corruption". On the other hand, the IT system in question, Merkava, was developed under his tenure (2003-2007) in the Ministry of Treasury. His senior deputy, Yitzhak Cohen , was later (2013) convicted of deceit and breach of trust in relationship to development of the system, where US-based SAP was a major provider (SAP was involved in similar affairs in other nations as well).

The widespread fraud in Israeli e-government system has been repeatedly reported, including IT systems of the courts, [xvixvii] and should be deemed a clear indicator of failure of the legal structure of the regime. [xviii]

At the end of October, newly appointed Supreme Court Presiding Justice Esther Hayut used the opportunity of her swearing in speech to issue a stern warning, claiming attempts were underway to undermine the judiciary. [xix] Hayut was expressing her displeasure with Minster of Justice Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home - right-wing religious party) and the latter's ongoing efforts to curb the power of the judiciary. Israeli judiciary are seen by many, particularly in government, as holding excessive, or even dictatorial power.

Less than three weeks later, MK Nurit Koren (Likud) - one of 9 members of the judiciary appointments committee - lambasted Hayut, saying that "Hayut is calling for a revolution". [xx] The dispute arose on the background of disagreements regarding judicial nominations and appointments.

The justice system has experienced precipitous decline in public trust over the past two decades. [xxi] A recent (unpublished) survey by the Knesset claims that distrust has reached over 80 percent. Similar surveys have been repeatedly published in recent years. Last year, a couple of TV series highlighted corruption of the State Attorney Office and the criminal justice system. Criticism of the justice system has reached a peak in relationship to the Roman Zadorov affair. Zadorov, a Christian Ukrainian construction worker is widely perceived as framed by police, the prosecution and the judiciary in the murder of a 13 year old girl in 2007. [xxii]

On the background of ongoing disputes between the Ministry of Justice and the judiciary, former Presiding Justice Aharon Barak called last year for a judicial rebellion -- mass resignation! [xxiii] Perhaps it is not so surprising, for a figure, regarding whom Judge Richard Posner and Judge Robert Bork found themselves in unusual agreement -- holding Barak world champion of judicial hubris. [xxiv] (Kagan was blasted for lauding Barak as her judicial model in her nomination hearing. [xxv])

It appears that Israel is experiencing an ongoing constitutional crisis - in a nation with no constitution. The three branches of government all appear dysfunctional, and there is no simple remedy in sight. Even if Netanyahu resigns, and his Likud party loses power in the next general election, it is unlikely to change the fundamental system-wide failure.

At this point, IDF remains the only arm of government that continues to generate high levels of trust and support. Therefore, Ehud Barak's warning regarding an IDF/Shin-Bet rebellion may not be so far fetched.


i 2017-12-25 Twitter message by Amit Segal regarding Barak's meeting with Eisenkot

ii 2017-12-23 Barak: Government's policies will lead IDF, Shin Bet to disobey orders | Ynet,7340,L-5060777,00.html

iii 2017-12-22 Ex-PM Barak envisions IDF mutiny over Netanyahu policy, sparks outrage

iv 2017-12-23 Right Wing Joins Over 10,000 in Weekly 'March of Shame' Against Corruption in Netanyahu's Government | Haaretz

v2017-12-17 [Video] Tel-Aviv protest, Deep State, and government corruption |

vi 2017-05-21 Police Violence, Closed Doors Hearings in Israeli Protest Against Corrupt AG (Videos) |

vii 2017-12-24 Likud: Prop guillotine at Tel Aviv rally is incitement to murder | Ynet,7340,L-5061023,00.html

viii 2017-11-14 Netanyahus allegedly demanded free cigars and champagne from associates

| Guardian/UK

ix 2016-11-13 Editorial Netanyahu Can't Wash His Hands of Incitement That Led to Rabin's Murder | Haaretz

x 2017-10-23 Rivlin: 'Winds of revolution as majority rule becomes only rule' | Ynet,7340,L-5032691,00.html

xi 2017-10-23 Analysis President Tries to Save Israel From Pyromaniac Netanyahu's anti-Democratic Revolution | Haaretz

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xii 2017-10 -14 PM in unprecedented attack on police chief after report of widening graft probes | Times of Israel

xiii 2017-12-20 MK David Bitan submits letter of resignation to PM Netanyahu | jerusalem post

xiv 2017-01-17 Israel Police Investigations Chief to Retire This Summer, Even Amid Netanyahu's Scandals | Haaretz

xv 2017-12-20 The State is conducting a secret budge | Ynet,7340,L-5059891,00.html

xvi E-government in Israel -- transformation into the Post-truth Era |

xvii 2017-03-17 Complaint filed with Shin-Bet Head: E-signatures in the courts - subversion of the foundations of a democratic regime |

xviii 2017-04-16 E-government in Israel -- transformation into the Post-truth Era |

xix 2017-10-30 Justice Hayut sworn in: "Worrisome attempts to harm the judiciary" | Walla News

xx 2017-11-26 MK Koren: "Hayut is calling for a revolution" | Channel 20 news


2017-09-02 The Supreme Court is losing the people's trust | Ynet,7340,L-5011023,00.html

xxii 2016-07-12 ROMAN ZADOROV - the Israeli Mendel Beilis |

xxiii 2016-12-26 The Erosion of Public Trust in Israel's Judiciary Is Real--and Unusual | Mosaic

xxiv 2007-04-23 Enlightened Despot | New Republic


Authors Website:

Authors Bio:

Dr Zernik's core research pertains to e-government and its significance for Human Rights and Civil Society.

His work won appreciation in Israel and abroad:
* Prof Uzzi Ornan - "All power to you! I hope that you see your tremendous efforts reach fruition!"
* Attorney Avigdor Feldman - "In my opinion you are doing very important work" thank you for your thorough and persistent work".
* Prof Amnon Shashua, Mobileye Co-founder - "" very important work".
* International experts, as part of anonymous peer-review - "" challenges current concepts in the field".
Four submissions, which he authored on behalf of Human Rights Alert - NGO, were incorporated into UN Human Rights Council Periodic Reports regarding the US or Israel (2010, 2013, 2015, 2018). His research has been presented and published in international academic conferences, including Data Mining (2010), Criminology (2012), E-government (2015, 2017), and were also cited in a textbook on "Machine Learning".
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