One matter I’ve been trying to understand for a while is the power of Avigdor Lieberman always to get his way. Corruption is endemic to Israel and its politics, of course, even more so than it is in our ever-more corrupt western societies. But still this matter seems to go beyond the fact that Lieberman is part of the Israeli old boy’s club. After all, he’s no Sharon, with all his army buddies looking out for him. Lieberman is an immigrant and the leader of a mid-size political party that appeals to a lot of other Russian-speaking immigrants.
Today, the state’s star witness in Lieberman’s graft trial, the ambassador to Latvia, changed his story at the very last minute, effectively absolving Lieberman of any wrongdoing.
The trial was a very watered down version of the original police investigation, which fizzled out suddenly after more than a decade of what appeared to be a strengthening case against Lieberman. The attorney general surprised everyone by deciding at the last minute not to press charges.
Now a Haaretz op-ed, the Lieberman fear factor, tells an even more astounding tale of Lieberman evading the grasp of justice:
In 2001 he [Lieberman] was the recipient of an inexplicable plea bargain, sponsored by then-Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein, after being charged with attacking children who had hit his son.
The indictment said Lieberman had picked up a rock and thrown it at the back of one of the children as they fled to a hiding place. He found them and hit one of them in the face. The force of the blow knocked the child to the wall, injuring his head, and the child fell to the ground. While he lay on the ground, stunned with pain, Lieberman kicked him until the child burst into tears. Then Lieberman pulled him by the hair, grabbed his collar and arm and put him into his car. He drove him to his parents’ house, where he threatened to break his arms and legs if he returned to the Nokdim settlement (where Lieberman lives).
In the plea bargain Lieberman confessed to assaulting, injuring and threatening a child. He did not express regret. Despite all this, he was not charged with a crime tainted with moral turpitude [which would have disbarred him from political life]. Today Rubinstein is a Supreme Court Justice.
What makes Lieberman untouchable? Putin? The Russian oligarchs? Something else?