That politicians can be bought by rich people, businesses, and lobbyists is no secret. What is surprising is how cheap they are. Sometimes it seems like all you need to do is give them a vacation or even just an expensive meal with plenty of alcohol to get them to do your bidding. The latest example of this are the charges brought against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara who seem to be not only cheap to buy but extremely brazen about the fact that they are for sale.
The Australian casino owner James Packer and the Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan probably never imagined they would be running a free drinks delivery service for the Israeli prime minister and his wife.
But when Sara Netanyahu called an assistant of the two men to say the drinks had run out, it was the signal for Packer and Milchan to renew the supplies of champagne, courtesy of their own wallets and a private driver, according to alleged testimony in an investigation into sleaze claims against Benjamin Netanyahu.
The claims, widely reported in the Israeli media on Tuesday, are the latest leaks from a police investigation into the Netanyahus. If true, they would illustrate how brazen the couple were in demanding favours.
According to the reports, first carried by Israel’s Channel 2 and Channel 10 on Monday night, Hadas Klein, an assistant to both Packer and Milchan, has given evidence describing how the Netanyahus would routinely call demanding cigars, champagne and even that the bill be paid for a building inspector.
While the Israeli prime minister has repeatedly denied the items represented anything more than goodwill between friends, the leak suggests that the Netanyahus always initiated the favours.
The article goes on to list other items demanded by the Netanyahus.
The Netanyahus have already been criticized for living the high life and charging it to the taxpayers. They are true grifters. What keeps their abuses from getting too much coverage in the US and the UK is the Israel lobby that works behind the scenes in both countries to keep the coverage of that country positive. Jonathan Cook says that the recent resignation of a UK Minister Priti Patel over secret meetings with Israeli officials including Netanyahu has shone some light on the workings of the lobby and the power it wields over the Conservative party.
The honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel, Lord Polak has recruited four-fifths of Conservative MPs, and almost every government minister, to a group whose explicit goal is to advance Israeli interests in Britain. The prime minister, Theresa May, is regarded as one of Israel’s most fervent supporters in Europe.
That should be a cause for public indignation; no other foreign state enjoys such unabashed, high-level political support.
Today, as recent events illustrate, the lobby is struggling to stay in the shadows. Social media and Palestinians with camera phones have exposed a global audience to systematic abuses by the Israeli army the western media largely ignored. For the first time, Israel supporters sound evasive and dissembling.
It is noteworthy that Patel’s downfall came about because of social media. Israeli officials like police minister Gilad Erdan were so unused to scrutiny or accountability themselves that they happily tweeted photos with Patel. Erdan is a key player in the lobby, running a “smear unit” to target overseas critics of Israel.
We may never know why Patel so grossly flouted ministerial rules or what she quietly promised in those meetings in Israel. Colleagues have hinted that, in a pattern familiar from US politics, she hoped to win over the lobby and its wealthy donors for a future leadership bid.