For all the differences between Israeli and American Jews, one thing is uncannily similar: the daily headlines lambasting their current political leader.
While the Donald Trump era has brought a new level of hysteria to U.S. political discourse, the attempts to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the seemingly weekly revelation of yet another corruption scandal have only slightly dented his popularity. According to an October 5 poll by Israeli television's Knesset Channel, when people were asked, "Have the publications on Netanyahu and his family on the various investigations against them changed your opinion of him?" 64 percent said no.
With so many investigations and promised indictments, why is the prime minister's popularity still so high? Part of it is certainly the convoluted nature of the allegations. The more closely one examines them, the more unbelievable they become.
First was Meni Naftali, the Netanyahus' housekeeper, who in 2014 sued the State of Israel, the Netanyahus and the Office of the Prime Minister for a million shekels (about $260,000) because, he alleged, Sara Netanyahu wasn't nice to him. She complained to him at 3 a.m. that he brought milk in leaky plastic bags instead of containers. She made him reset a dinner table because an unclean awning had been opened above it, raining down dust. He said she made him return bottles to get the deposit and then pocketed the money, and that she threw a vase with old flowers on the floor, demanding fresh ones. Most of all, he complained she didn't want to keep him on after two years, as she'd promised.
He won. The judge agreed he'd been mistreated and misled concerning the terms of his employment, but awarded him only about $46,000. The Israeli public, assailed for years by a relentless media campaign to paint Sara Netanyahu as a petty, haughty, money-grubbing domestic tyrant, sighed at this outcome. To topple Netanyahu is going to take more than deposits on Coca-Cola bottles.
Then there are the investigations of Netanyahu himself, dubbed cases 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000.
* Case 1000 is an investigation of flm producer Arnon Milchan's giving Netanyahu cigars and champagne. I'm not kidding. Well, it also involves allegations that Milchan gave Sara Netanyahu substantial gifts and got billionaire James Packer to invite Netanyahu's son on vacation junkets. Police have actually interviewed Milchan for this "crime." What these gifts accomplished for the givers isn't clear.