By Ani Rostomyan Edited by Danika Suh
~ Op-Ed ~
Who is Netanyahu?
Benjamin Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1949. When he was 14 years old, his family moved to America because of his father’s job change. When Benjamin turned 18, he moved back to Israel and spent five years in the army there as a high ranking captain. After serving in the military, he went back to the US, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Unfortunately, his brother was killed leading a raid to rescue hostages in Uganda. Benjamin created an anti-terrorism institute in his brother’s memory. In 1982, he became Israel’s deputy chief of mission in Washington. Netanyahu was appointed Israel’s permanent representative at the UN in 1984. In 1988, he became involved in domestic politics by winning a seat in Parliament. He became Israel’s first directly elected prime minister. He later lost the re-election and did not retain his position until 2009. He became Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. Benjamin faced charges of corruption in 2019.
Pictured Above: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
In 2019, Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. He was the first to be indicted while in office. He allegedly accepted gifts from his billionaire friends and did favors for the media in exchange for good media coverage for him and his family. However, Netanyahu denies these claims, stating it is all a conspiracy by the media and law enforcement agencies. He claimed that since they couldn’t beat him through elections, they were conspiring to get him out of office. As Netanyahu said, “The goal is to bring down a strong prime minister from the right and thus keep the right out of power for many years.” The first case against him concerns his relationship with two businessmen. One is a film producer, while the other is an Austrian billionaire. These two rich men allegedly gave the prime minister and his wife various packages, mainly cigar boxes and bottles of champagne. They were apparently given in a continuous manner, and had a total value of $198,000. Netanyahu stated they were merely tokens of friendship, refusing the notion that he had somehow acted differently because of them. The two businessmen also denied that they acted inappropriately. The second case is also one of fraud and breach of trust. It concerns meetings that the prime minister had with a businessman and the controlling shareholder of the parent company of a prominent Israeli newspaper, Arnon Mozes. According to the indictment, in a series of meetings, the two discussed an exchange of interests. Improving media coverage for Netanyahu, and in exchange, he would remove restrictions on the newspaper that the parent company-owned. Both men denied doing anything wrong, and stated they didn’t intend to actually promote anything they said. The last case against him concerns bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Mr. Netanyahu was the communications minister from 2014 to 2017. According to the indictment, Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Israel's biggest telecommunications company, put a lot of pressure on the head of Walla to change its coverage in line with various demands made by Mr. Netanyahu and some of his family. In return, Netanyahu allegedly used his position at the time to take specific actions that promoted Mr. Elovitch’s business interests. The prime minister denied any wrongdoing, saying that the regulatory actions he took were supported by experts.
Many people are upset at the prime minister because of his handling of the virus. Many say that he reopened the country too soon, and that’s what caused the surge in cases. He has also pledged millions of dollars in aid, but unfortunately, the majority of it hasn’t been given to those in need. Anger over Netanyahu’s COVID-19 response and alleged corruption sparked protests, even at his Jerusalem residence, where police used a water cannon to disperse demonstrators.
The trial is set for January 2021, and hearings will be held three times a week. Netanyahu’s lawyers said they would need much more time to determine their basic trial strategy. The trial could have a large impact on Netanyahu’s transfer of power to Benny Gantz (opposing party) in November 2021. Sources Cited: