“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-1000
Who Is Arnon Milchan?
He was born in Rehovot (Israel) in 1944. He started his career in marketing chemicals and fertilizers. According to non-Israeli sources, he went on to become an arms dealer. Rumors had it that in the 80’s he was associated with the LEKEM (Bureau of Scientific Relations- an Israeli intelligence agency) that operated within the ministry of defense in classified matters. There’s no doubt that the state of Israel is greatly in debt to Milchan due to his exploits.
During the 80’s Milchan started a new career in film production and greatly succeeded in Hollywood. He was also very successful with his other business activities and, according to Forbes, amassed a fortune reaching more than 3 billion dollars. Netanyahu got acquainted with Milchan as far back as 1996 when he became prime minister, but their friendship actually became closer in 1999 when Netanyahu lost to Ehud Barak, and after the journalist Amnon Abramovich arrogantly declared that Netanyahu would become a mere footnote in the history of Israeli leaders.
It was only then, when Netanyahu was an apparent has-been, that they truly bonded as friends. Their friendship was characterized by long discussions, including private matters. Milchan would call Netanyahu from any place in the world to talk and consult with him, as a close friend. Despite the substantial distance between them, they would meet regularly. At times the meetings were spontaneous; at other times, they were familial. Their mutual friendship and respect were also manifested by the fact that Netanyahu would also consult with Milchan regarding various issues.
Dr. Jacob Weinroth
Who is James Packer?
Packer is much younger, born in 1967. Packer owned many businesses, including hotels and telecommunications holdings, and his fortune was also estimated to be above 3 billion dollars. He was introduced to Netanyahu in 2014 during a meal hosted by Milchan. In 2016 Packer purchased a house in Caesarea (Israel) near Netanyahu’s home. During the same year, Packer had a relationship with the performer, Mariah Carey, which eventually ended. After that, Packer suffered from complex mental disorders and sought treatment.
Netanyahu and Packer’s friendship could almost be described as ‘fatherly.’ Packer had great respect for Netanyahu, while Netanyahu showed concern for him through his ordeals. Packer’s friendship with Netanyahu also extended to his family. He occasionally also spent time with Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair. Packer had no business interests in Israel. However, Netanyahu naturally came to Packer’s aid when his situation deteriorated due to their friendship.
It is indisputable that both Milchan and Packer gave consumable gifts to the Netanyahu family, such as cigars for Benjamin Netanyahu himself and champagne for his wife. The prime minister never demanded, accepted, or consumed champagne. In general, he wasn’t even aware when and where champagne was given as a gift. Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife is not a defendant. Therefore, it would be absurd to include champagne gifts in Netanyahu’s indictment. It should be emphasized that the attorney general did not even present a charge against his wife on this issue.
The gifts’ value estimate in the indictment is preposterously exaggerated and is devoid of evidence regarding quantities, dates, and prices. Netanyahu completely denied the acceptance of gifts as a line of supply and claimed that the stated gift quantities were grossly exaggerated.
The public service act (gifts) -1979 only refers to cases where “a civil servant received a gift due to his status as a civil servant.” About the above, Netanyahu Maintained a deep friendship with Milchan and Packer that was unrelated to his premiership. Netanyahu even received a legal opinion that the gift reception was legal, issued separately by the prime minister’s office general attorney Shlomit Barnea-Farago, and his personal attorney, the late Dr. Jacob Weinroth.
Since there is no wrongdoing in receiving gifts from close friends, particularly consumable gifts, the indictment goes to great lengths to produce cases where Netanyahu presumably acted in Milchan’s interests. During the 5 years defined as the “relevant period,” there are only three cases mentioned in the indictment:
Assistance in obtaining a US visa for Milchan - when Milchan ran into difficulties extending his visa, Netanyahu informed the American ambassador that Milchan was utterly uninvolved in Israeli intelligence activities. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Milchan made considerable contributions to Israel’s security and defense in the past. Therefore, helping Milchan in the present was quite straightforward from an Israeli governmental perspective. It could even be considered a duty that should not be seen as resulting from Netanyahu and Milchan’s friendship.
The law for extending tax exemptions for returning residents - the extension of tax exemptions was intended to attract returning residents to Israel. Therefore any serious and informed discussion on the issue involves a large group of individuals, not Milchan exclusively. The person with whom Milchan had the most contact, including detailed discussions involving lawyers and officials (occasionally out of office), was actually the contemporary treasury minister Yair Lapid. The prime minister had no direct authority on the matter, did not carry out any executive decisions, and did not make any specific references to Milchan.
The merger between Keshet and Reshet in 2016 - an idea that was proposed to attract foreign investment to the Israeli media industry. The proposition was one out of many mentioned in the discourse related to the Israeli media and never reached fruition. Therefore it is impossible to assert that executive actions were carried out on this matter.
Regarding Packer, the indictment doesn’t mention even one executive or governmental action carried out by Netanyahu. In other words, there is no assertion that a “give and take” dynamic existed between them. It’s unclear why Packer was included in the indictment.
Conflict of interests
The following claim can be put on the table: hardly any politicians don’t find themselves in hundreds of minor conflicts of interest. Each politician in the democratic world reached the top while gathering many friends and connections on the way. This is also true for judges, state attorneys, and other legal watchdogs.
This, of course, is no excuse for bribery. In the case dubbed publicly as ‘case-1000’, such a fault does not exist. In the civil service, there are many cases where bribery and corruption are camouflaged: examples include nominations to prestigious posts, nepotism, and reception of campaign finance guarantees.
Any random politician can be named, and it would be easy to blame them for receiving supposed bribes in one form or another if the criteria were defined accordingly. A new problem arises when the law system subjects politicians to standards in a gruesomely selective way.
The attempt to produce a ‘breach of trust’ felony, an ambiguously defined criminal offense that should be erased from the Israeli law registry due to conflict of interests - is baseless. The indictment, in this case, is based on the claim (page 44): “The prime minister maintained prolonged and inappropriate relationships with Milchan and Packer, during which he received material benefits in conjunction with his authority in public office and his status as prime minister.” The attempt to attribute gifts (consumed in smoke) to Netanyahu’s public duties and his status as prime minister is manifestly false.
One should also mention the deep procedural flaws during the investigation, which was initiated without securing the necessary authorizations as mandated in the Government fundamental law of 2001. The whole investigation was carried out as a ‘fishing’ endeavor without any concrete felonies to speak of. Its real purpose was to find any piece of slander that could be attributed to the prime minister and his family. This is not how a law enforcement system functions in a democratic state.
Not everything that’s publicly inappropriate is also illegal. For the public to judge ‘inappropriate behavior,’ it has democratic elections at its disposal. Unrestrained law enforcement agencies have no right to decide on these issues and definitely have no right to selectively choose targets and persecute them at all costs.