In the 1980s, John Gotti became known as the “Teflon Don” because he was charged with many crimes over the years, but the charges would never stick.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was a public person who thrilled in the fact that the charges and accusations against him seemed to melt away. He was even taken to trial three times in the ‘80s, beating each case, until he was finally convicted of multiple crimes in 1992.
While I’m not comparing the nature of the crimes each was accused of, we seem to have “Teflon Bibi” here in Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been accused of many things. Yet, at the end of the day — at least so far — nothing’s stuck to him and he continues his run as prime minister of the State of Israel with the longest term (and is 16 months short of being the longest-serving PM altogether.)
The guy is seemingly indestructible. Take one of the latest cases. Many of his associates are embroiled in an investigation by the police. If I am not mistaken, Bibi himself has been interviewed as part of the investigation.
Sometime last week came the news that a prosecutor and one of the judges sent text messages to each other that may appear to show that they conspired in an improper manner. In a “hot mike” recording made as the news came out, two MKs are heard discussing Bibi’s amazing “luck” in how the news unfolded and seemed to take the air out of the sails of the prosecutors.
Over the years, both he and his wife have been vilified by the left-wing press. He’s faced down a number of challenges within his own party. He’s been accused of wrongdoing, in the court of public opinion, not a court of law. Some of his strongest supporters have turned against him as well.
Yet, he defies the odds and continues to solidify his incredible power base. I’ve said it before; I am not a huge fan of any of the politicians here as individuals. I question their honesty and their ethics. With so much smoke all over the place, somewhere there has to be fire.
But — and this is the key for me — if I am going to have one of them as the leader of the country, I’d rather it be my guy than somebody else’s. So we voted for Likud/Bibi twice and Bayit Yehudi once, all with the intention that he continue as the prime minister.
Despite the fact that the liberals around the world don’t seem to care for him, he just keeps going. And look where we are. We’ve faced the threat of war for years. We’ve been under terror attack for years. Yet, we set records for tourism year after year. We’ve seen tremendous growth and innovation in industry, especially high-tech. We’ve got an amazingly robust economy. And the guy just keeps moving forward.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t keep a daily watch on the news anymore. It depresses me. I really only see the headlines.
But if I am reading them correctly, it doesn’t look like there’s anyone out there who can defeat him in the polls right now. The ultra-religious need to keep him because the strongest alternatives will reject their army exemptions and drastically cut their funding. The right wing has no one strong enough to lead the pack. And the left wing, at least at current polling, can’t muster enough support (without the ultra-religious parties) to make their own coalition.
Add to that the fact that these corruption probes seem to take forever here. I am guessing that despite antipathy for him from our liberal media — ironically, he is facing charges of inappropriately trying to curry their favor in one of the investigations — there is no reason to believe he’ll be removed from office any time in the near future. We’ll probably have “Teflon Bibi” for quite some time, no matter what you are hearing in the news.
Shmuel Katz, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July 2006. Before making aliyah, Shmuel was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.