It’s been a difficult day for Prime Minister Netanyahu. For the first time in at least a generation to the leader of the Jewish world ignored the recommendation of the Israeli Prime Minister and picked someone he did not want to be the Head of the Jewish Agency. They nominating committee overwhelming selected Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog. The head of the Jewish Agency has traditionally been from the same party as the Prime Minister. Netanyahu had wanted Yuval Steinitz currently the Energy Minister and a Netanyahu loyalist. However, the diaspora leaders said no, they wanted Herzog. Some say it is a result of the anger at Netanyahu that still exists because of his withdrawal of the Kotel deal. There can be no question that Herzog is the more qualified candidate. He has a better understanding of the diasporas, grew up in a home that was deeply Jewish and is as close to royalty that exists in the country. His Grandfather was Chief Rabbi and his Father both UN Ambassador and President. By all accounts in the period that he was actually a minister he was considered to be very competent, and of course, there is the small matter that he is a Ramaz graduate.
Of course, there is a chance that this is really wanted Netanyahu wanted to happen. He and Herzog have always gotten along well, and he knows that he will be a good bridge to the diaspora. Netanyahu did not seem to fight very hard. Israelis political observers believe he was surprised by the development. Even though I am not a great fan of Bibi when it comes to politics there is very little that gets by him. It should be noted that with opposition receiving the Jewish Agency there will be pressure to give the Likud the Jewish National Fund. It is the JNF that has real money, over $1 Billion in the bank and land worth many times that and that is the real prize for the Likud. A Likud member argued with me today when I said that this was a problem. He countered that the JNF is corrupt, I agreed- but then he said that the Likud would clean up corruption. I just laughed and said that the Likud and cleaning up corruption were an oxymora .
The bigger problem for the Netanyahu is no doubt the decision of the Attorney General to indict his wife on fraud and breach. The case relates to ordering $100,000 of outside food for personal use while at the same time having a cook on premises to cook. The real problem in what happened is she lied about it, and to use plain vernacular she tried to cook the books.
While this case is not really connected to the main cases against Netanyahu there are similarities. The Case 1000 is all about getting gifts for Netanyahu and Sara, and both Case 2000 and 4000 which both center on getting favorable news coverage for Bibi and in many cases Sara. So while Bibi is not implicated in this case Sara is directly and indirectly in the others.
It should be noted that in 1977 Prime Minister Rabin resigned because his wife illegally held on to their dollar account in the US. At the time it was illegal for Israelis to have accounts outside of the country, and the Rabin’s established the account while he was Ambassador to Washington. According to the law at the time you had to close the account within three years and the account was discovered by a reporter four years later.
On a side note, I mentioned the Rabin story to an Israeli friend who is in her late 30’s and she had no idea. I guess it is not taught in history class.