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Israel is not a democracy, it's a corrupt state

Israeli politicians congratulate Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid (L) and outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, following the dissolution of the parliament, in Jerusalem on June 30, 2022 [Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli politicians congratulate Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid (L) and outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, following the dissolution of the parliament, in Jerusalem on June 30, 2022 [Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images]

Israel has repeatedly been referred to as the only democracy in the Middle East. It is said that it was founded on democratic values including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

As such, Israel holds periodic elections and claims that the rule of law, equality and the advancement of all human rights including the freedom of opinion and expression and the rights to education and to information are crucial to its democratic governance.

A state founded on all of these bases must be a beacon of democracy and prosperity, but in Israel's case, this is a lie. When you hear Israel being referred to as a democracy, anyone with any information on the events on the ground would know that this is an oxymoron.

"The strongest bond we share is our belief in democracy and in democratic values," European Commission Chief, Ursula von der Leyen, said during a visit to Israel in June. "Democracy has strengthened our special bond of friendship through the decades," she added. "Today more than ever before, democracies like Europe and Israel should come closer together."

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Those who follow daily news reports from Israel are wondering, however, what kind of democracy von der Leyen is referring to. Apart from the occupation state's crimes against humanity, genocides and war crimes against Palestinians, Israeli officials at the helm of the so-called 'democratic state' are committing flagrant violations and human rights abuses.

Take for example the ongoing investigation into the scandalous reports about Israeli envoy to Morocco, David Govrin, who was recalled to Israel, according to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, "due to allegations of sexual abuse, harassment and corruption."

Israeli media said in addition to the theft of a "precious gift" from the Moroccan Royal Court, the most serious complaint was that "a senior Israeli official" at the mission had sexually exploited several local women.

The Foreign Ministry is also investigating reports that an Israeli businessman who holds no official position hosted senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Yair Lapid – when he held the post of foreign minister. This businessman arranged meetings for the senior Israeli officials with their Moroccan counterparts without having any connection to the Israeli government.

Examples of officials abusing women, stealing public funds and exploiting their positions for personal gain is widespread in Israel, from presidents to their housekeepers.

In 2016, Israel's eighth President Moshe Katsav was released from prison after serving five years of a seven-year term for raping a female employee at the Tourism Ministry when he was a minister in the 1990s and for sexually harassing two women while he was serving as a president between 2000-2007.

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When the Israeli court upheld the charges against Katsav in 2010, then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been indicted in a number of corruption scandals, said it was a "sad day for the State of Israel and its citizens," but he hailed the Israeli judicial system. "Today the court conveyed two clear-cut messages," he said, stating that one of them was "all are equal before the law."

Netanyahu is currently on trial on several charges related to fraud and breach of trust, as well as bribery. Israel's longest serving prime minister is said to have connections to businessmen, filmmakers and media tycoons who offered him money or gave him preferable media coverage during electoral campaigns and other situations. He and his wife received gifts worth 700,000 shekels ($198,000) from Australian billionaire James Packer, the court has heard.

Israel's longest serving prime minister still heads the opposition and is due to run for prime minister in Israel's fifth election in four years which is due to be held in October. The corruption charges against him have had little bearing on his support and he remains the one to beat in the upcoming polls.

It is alleged that Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Israel's biggest telecommunications company Bezeq, which owned the news website Walla, changed the news site's coverage in line with demands from Netanyahu's family.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was asked to resign from his post in 2008, was convicted of receiving envelopes filled with cash from American-Jewish businessman Morris Talansky, and using it for personal and not political expenses. He served 16 months of his 27-month jail term.

Former Israeli Energy Minister, Gonen Segev, was arrested in 2004 for drug smuggling and credit card fraud. He had attempted to smuggle in 25,000 Ecstasy tablets from the Netherlands. He was also jailed.

In 2008, Shlomo Benizri, who held the positions of health and energy minister, was charged with accepting bribes, breach of public trust and obstruction of justice, and was imprisoned. While Aryeh Deri, who served as interior minister, was charged with multiple counts of corruption, sent to prison and released. He went on to hold the position of minister once again!

These are the cases which have come to light, there are likely many others which have remained undisclosed or undiscovered. A state where funds are transferred in favour of positive coverage brings into question the very meaning of democratic values.

Israel is not a democracy, but a country run by a corrupt and roque elite.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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