November 7, 2013

Who is the Sovereign in Israel?

Today, after 17 years of investigation and trials, former (and future) Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was acquitted by a unanimous court decision. Lieberman’s story forces us to face a serious question: Who is the sovereign in the State of Israel? The people, by means of their elected officials? Or bureaucrats, who appointed themselves?

I have decided to visit the elected mayor of Nazareth, Mr. Shimon Gefso, who is currently under house arrest for corruption charges. I know – they will accuse me of chasing after the votes of the Likud Central Committee; they will try to make me look guilty of corruption. But I am going.

I am not chasing after anybody. I will gain nothing from Gefso. Personally, I believe that he is innocent and that this is a classic “Dreyfus” case. But the real question has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the newly re-elected mayor of Nazareth. Just as with Lieberman, the question is who is sovereign in this State? We, the people, by means of the people whom we have elected? Or a band of bureaucrats that has appointed itself as lords of the land?

The lords of the land attempted to prevent the residents of Nazareth from voting for Gefso. But the people of Nazareth (Heaven help us) disobeyed the lords of the land and elected him, nevertheless. Now they are teaching the sovereign – the people – a humiliating lesson. In a media-saturated operation, they have chosen to arrest Gefso just days after the election. They even had the audacity to demand a court order to distance him from city hall for 30 days; in other words, precisely the critical days in which he is supposed to get his municipal coalition together and begin working in earnest. As far as they are concerned, Nazareth can go to the dogs. The main thing is that they have the last word and that they will remain the sovereign and not the voters.

These lords must understand that the people have had their say at the ballot box. They must allow Gefso to fulfill the wishes of the public. In my opinion, all investigations and indictments against elected officials should be postponed until their term is over. I can say this now, because I wrote the same thing in an article about one of the politicians for whom I have nothing but contempt: the post-Amonah Ehud Olmert. This is what I wrote in May 2008:

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