TEL AVIV – Police investigations, commissions of inquiry examining the errors committed during the Lebanon war of 2006, repugnance at former President Moshe Katsav’s alleged sex crimes, and now Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s announcement that, with charges of corruption swirling about him, he will resign in September: all of this suggests profound wounds in Israel’s moral tissue.
Old Israelis like myself are stupefied by the scope and scale of today’s corruption and the multiplying investigations. Is corruption something that has always existed here but was somehow hidden until now? Are we learning of it because our prosecutor and police are bolder and better equipped nowadays?
I do not believe that corruption is coming to light just because law enforcement is somehow better, or because citizens, like the presidential staff who accused President Katsav of sexual crimes and harassment, are more courageous. What is coming to light is a much deeper evil, a loss of values within Israeli society and its government, such as never existed before.
This moral deterioration is most prominent in the behavior of today’s accused, who are much more impudent and aggressive than in the past. I remember how in the 1970’s, when suspicion of corruption arose with respect to a Labor Party minister, the minister took his own life. So did a director of a great bank, a brilliant economist, when he was suspected of financial crimes.