By Larry Gordon
North Korea is firing potentially nuclear-capable missiles into the sea. Mexico experienced its worst earthquake ever. The killing continues in Syria, while the U.S. and Russia continue to seek the destruction of ISIS and the scourge of terror that seems to be escalating around the world. There are the meteorological crises being dealt with in Texas and Florida, poverty is on the rise around the world, and about a dozen people are murdered every weekend in Chicago.
And then there is a matter of international concern that focuses on what the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likes to ingest for dinner. Apparently, Sara Netanyahu is facing indictment for crimes that can only be characterized as ridiculous.
After a long investigation and many delays, Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, is on the verge of indicting Mrs. Netanyahu for ordering takeout food.
Some background on this serious matter is in order. It seems that as prime minister, the Israeli leader and his wife have a cook on staff at the prime minister’s residence. The law apparently says that the only time that their family can order takeout food is when the chef has an off day or is off-duty. It seems that Israeli investigators have allegedly uncovered the fact that Mrs. Netanyahu had ordered takeout food while the chef was in the residence and still working. The Israeli press reported last week that if convicted, Mrs. Netanyahu can face up to five years in prison.
And if you think that is not enough to charge Mrs. Netanyahu with, well, there is more. There were other allegations floating around the news media for years about Sara Netanyahu, but, at present, some of those charges are not being pursued.
Here is a short list of those other charges that she could have been prosecuted for. One is the fact that she used government money to buy outdoor furniture for her family’s private home in Caesarea. Another is that she used state employees to help care for her elderly father. And the nail in the coffin has to be this one–she redeemed more than $1,000 of bottle deposits for cash.
One of the mysteries about all this is: where did she get all those cans and bottles and over what period did she return those to the store or redemption centers for cash? Somehow I cannot imagine Sara Netanyahu wheeling around one of those wagons with garbage bags filled with cans or bottles, standing by one of those automatic redemption machines, and then pocketing the cash.
The absurdity of this situation sounds very much like the kind of thing that the attorney general here in the United States–if not a Trump loyalist–would be all too pleased to charge President Trump with. Let’s place these matters into perspective. If they cannot somehow get him on Russian collusion or giving away state secrets to a foreign government either purposely or inadvertently, then they just might have to go after the outdoor furniture at Mar-a-Lago or, if all else fails, investigate what happens with all those bottles and cans of beer and soda that residents of the White House consume on a weekly basis.
The issue with leveling these types of charges and accusations is why isn’t there any embarrassment at parading before the world such obtuse allegations, all in the interest of trying to dislodge an opposing party from power?
In Israel, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is a former cabinet secretary to Mr. Netanyahu. But in Israel there is a commitment to interpretations of the law to the extreme, no matter how internationally humiliating it might be. Israel, despite its very small size, is very prominent on the world stage. It’s plainly surprising that there isn’t someone present in the chain of command who can provide a little levity to the matter and say, “Hey, folks, this is kind of silly.”
No, that is not the case in Israel. The Jews are the people of the law books and there is no squirming out of the exact and thorough interpretations of the law, no matter how silly it makes Israel and its people look.
So let’s try to take a serious look at some of the charges Mrs. Netanyahu can face in the weeks ahead if Israel cannot get hold of herself and does not mind humiliating herself.
First, there is what is unashamedly referred to as the “Prepared Food Affair.” As explained earlier, for some reason the law in Israel is that if you want a burger and fries from Burger King or some pizza from Pizza Hut, you cannot pay for it with government money if there is a chef on the premises. The strength of this case against Mrs. Netanyahu is that apparently she conspired with Ezra Seidoff, the director general of the prime minister’s office from 2010—2013, to present on paper the false representation that the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem did not have a cook.
A closer look at the case tells us that this was not just about some pizza or hot dogs. It seems that during this period, Sara Netanyahu and Mr. Seidoff spent almost $100,000 on takeout food that was delivered to the prime minister’s home.
Then there is the “Waiter Affair,” where it is suggested that together Mrs. Netanyahu and Mr. Seidoff paid waiters an extra $8,000 to do work in the home other than setting up or cleaning off tables. AGÂ Mandelblit said last week that there is not enough evidence to indict Sara on this charge, but that Mr. Seidoff is being indicted separately.
To reach even deeper into the absurd, there is also what is called in Israel the “Father’s Homecare Affair.” There were times over the last few years when two people were paid at the Netanyahu private residence to take care of Sara’s then very elderly and now deceased father. The two state employees were supposed to be there to provide cleaning services in the home. When Sara’s regular healthcare aide for her father was not available, she asked these two to perform those tasks. One worked five days and the other six days. The AG decided not to indict on these charges because the amount of money involved was minuscule.
There are other charges the attorney general of Israel is being pressured to bring against the wife of the prime minister, all in the interest of trying to shake him up and hopefully dislodge him from power. There is a matter of dealing with candles that Sara bought that had no official use. And there was lawn furniture she is said to have moved from the official residence in Jerusalem to the private home in Caesarea.
I’m sure you have already concluded that the official resources being committed to investigate these charges probably far exceed the amount allegedly spent in a possibly unauthorized fashion. Mr. Mandelblit–now the attorney general but otherwise a Netanyahu loyalist–should be committed to the law more than any other consideration. Yet doesn’t he see that there are serious issues that the world is dealing with and that time spent on these matters is an insult to the Jewish State?
You can rest assured that despite the extensive coverage given to these cases in the Israeli and international press–including the New York Times–at the end of the process they will all amount to absolutely nothing.
ISIS and Iran are trying to make inroads in Syria to get closer to the Israeli border. With each passing month the Ayatollahs are getting closer to nuclear-bomb capabilities. And what we are worried about and busy with are those extra ketchup or Splenda packets that might be inside Sara Netanyahu’s purse.
May the Lâ€‘rd have mercy on us all.
Comments for Larry Gordon are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.