“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.” -Mark Twain
A Brief History of Case-2000
The late Sheldon Adelson was a successful and wealthy businessman and had a lot of love for Israel. He was a big donor to the ‘Taglit‘ program, Reichman University (formerly known as IDC), Ariel University, Ichilov hospital, and countless other causes.
Following the Gaza disengagement plan in 2005, the second Lebanese war, and Prime-minister Olmert’s announced plans to continue disengagements in Judea and Samaria, Adelson was alarmed by the brazen one-sidedness of the Israeli press when covering these events. Henceforth he committed himself to creating a new zionist conservative newspaper as an alternative to the dominant outlook of the existing press.
After a failed attempt to join forces with the businessman Shlomo Ben-Zvi, he established ‘Israel Hayom’ as a sole shareholder. The business model was based on advertising instead of subscriptions, as was common in the television market, local city newspapers, and many other publications worldwide. All this occurred in 2007.
There was no doubt that he wanted Netanyahu to return to the premiership and for the Likud party to retake the leading governing role according to his ideological worldview. There was also no doubt that if Netanyahu were to adopt the positions of the prime minister who preceded him, Ehud Olmert (2006-2009), he would have lost Adelson’s support immediately. Adelson believed more in ideology than in people.
At the time, the owner of Israel’s largest newspaper (Yedioth Ahronoth), Noni Moses, was the indisputable king of the Israeli press and politics by extension. Knesset members (Israeli parliament) were exceedingly fearful of him, and the rumors of an Edgar-hoover style ‘ file cabinet’ had a chilling effect. Until Adelson appeared on the scene, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper and its affiliated news site Ynet were virtually an unchallenged monopoly.
In 2009 Benjamin Netanyahu returned to the premiership. Understandably, he preferred a diversified press, an open idea market with players on the left and the right for all consumers who would be interested. The more press outlets, the better. However, Moses wanted to return to the monopoly era and eliminate the new competition that suddenly appeared on the conservative flank. A showdown was inevitable.
Up until 2014, Netanyahu managed to deflect assaults coming from Moses’ direction. Legislation measures initiated by members of the opposition Kadima party (now defunct) were voted down due to a strong government coalition. In 2014 a dramatic political development occurred. The senior politician Avigdor Leiberman dismantled the party block consisting of his party (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Netanyahu’s Likud party. After that, he joined forces with other prominent politicians such as Naftali Bennet, Ayelet Shaked, Yair Lapid, and Tzipi Livni, who cooperated with Moses to legislate a law that would eliminate Adelson’s newspaper Israel Hayom. They were unfond of Israel Hayom’s ‘critical material’ related to them and preferred the more coddling coverage provided by Moses. Netanyahu knew he had a rebellion within his coalition and decided to circumvent them and directly approach their discreet handler Moses. In September 2014, after the cessation of the recent Gaza campaign and before the law was presented to the Knesset, Netanyahu decided to meet Noni Moses.
Netanyahu wasn’t poised to gain any profit for himself, but only to try and alter the terrible law that was threatening press freedom in Israel.
No progress was made on this front, and the proposed law was presented to the Knesset for a preliminary vote during November 2014. After one month, when the danger of law finalization became apparent, Netanyahu fired Lapid and Livni from their posts, and the Knesset voted to disperse itself.
In between these events, Netanyahu held meetings with Moses. Moreover, Netanyahu was careful to record the meetings so that he would be able to prove Moses’ foul intentions if the need arose in the event of losing the election. The recordings were secured with Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Ari Harow. In retrospect, it can be well understood that Netanyahu was actually beguiling Moses and never intended to reach an agreement during the meetings. At the end of December, three whole months before the election, Netanyahu broke up the negotiations. After that, Moses launched a full press assault on Netanyahu. However, one can remember that the electorate had an opposing view on matters, and in 2015 voted for an almost entirely conservative government for 4 years under Netanyahu’s leadership.
However, in the eyes of the police and state attorney’s office, the electorate's choice was unreasonable. So they arrested Ari Harow on the grounds that were unrelated to Netanyahu (due to activity in a private company while employed as a civil servant), and during his interrogation, the following exchange took place: (translated from Hebrew)
Interrogator: you need to give us stuff. This isn’t funny - you, we are going for something serious now, we are going to decide on something serious. If you have anything to give, then give it. I, we don’t.. (--garbled word–).. and we go, then I'm wasting my efforts. I’ll stop wasting time- we’ll continue the present investigation and go on from there. If you have something criminal to give us, not some story.
Harow: I know
Interrogator: in the newspaper
Interrogator: And you know very well what’s forbidden and what’s not forbidden. What’s allowed and what’s prohibited. You may not be a law expert, but everyone knows what’s allowed and what’s not allowed, what’s forbidden, and what is between black and white. I want these cases where you were a witness in Netanyahu’s vicinity, and near other people, at the time you worked there. Tell me in which cases this happened.
Harow: ok but…
Interrogator: Come and tell me in which cases was there something forbidden, things that aren’t allowed, that are illegal. Tell me which cases, without Momi or Dani asking you specific questions. This is how it works. Tell us.
They weren’t discussing any specific suspicions - but were only trying to seek any theoretical wrongdoing that could be connected to the prime minister or his entourage. The questions weren’t related to an event - but to a person.
This was also said:
Interrogator: I repeat this again. We have a feeling that you are concealing.. a lot of things from us. You will now hear a lot of things, it’s hard for us to believe how a person that is also responsible for foreign relations and worked with him for 4 whole years would tell us about the… a box of cigars from Milchan here, some tie from Sarkozy there, or some suit, I don’t know.
Indeed, Netanyahu was connected to a long list of people that are very very (-- garbled word–). Ok? that we assume that supported him one way or another. Again, I’m not talking about you. We only need the truth. Only that. Nothing more but nothing less. Our feeling is that there is a consensus regarding (-- garbled words–) that you didn’t tell us everything you know, including, I’ll say this now, I’m telling you this, no, I have to put this all on the table…
Harow: No problem, excellent.
Interrogator: eventually, after we receive the whole package from you, everything depends on it. I’m going to an agreement with you. Again, we only want the truth, I mean common’ - some cigars during 2006…, the feeling is that as the person who was close to him and dealt with foriegn relations, you’re supposed to know much more than that what you’ve given so far. I’m telling you, there is a complete consensus amongst all the investigators in the matter and with everyone who’s accompanying the case in various aspects.
These are just two examples amongst many, which describe how Ari Harow was subject to threats, excessive pressure, and manipulative tricks. During the initial investigation stage, Harow wanted to avoid being on the wrong side of the law. According to an investigative article in Globes, his attorney provided the police with all the recordings that included Netanyahu and Moses. All this occurred before any official investigation related to the prime minister on this issue, and the recording’s transcription was probably illegal. Later, Harow signed on to become a state witness and narrowly escaped a sentence that would have led to his incarceration.
Harow’s own trial has yet to begin. This may be due to the system’s expectations of him during the planned testimony in Netanyahu’s trial. Some fleas in a prison cell would also be waiting...