The Jerusalem court has just found Ehud Olmert’s office manager Shula Zaken guilty of fraud and breach of trust in the tax authority bribery and appointments affair. Her shrewd and hair splitting lawyer has already informed the cameras and the microphones that he intends to appeal against the conviction before disappearing down the street accompanied by a couple of long legged blonds. It is very likely that Zaken’s appeal will be dragged through the various courts for a few more years before we see any justice done – justice that will be reduced by some last minute eyebrow raising plea bargain that no one will understand why it was agreed by the prosecution.
From Shula Zaken herself, who had been charged in two additional corruption affairs – the Rishontours Talansky affair and the Hollyland affair – we hear the usual story. I did not know, I did not hear, I thought, I was told, they ate my food, they drank my drink. I am quite convinced that from her point of view, Shula Zaken truly believes that she has done nothing that exceeded the accepted norms to which she got used during the many years she worked as the right hand woman of Ehud Olmert who was also charged in these affairs. I also believe that as far as she and Olmert are concerned, there is something fundamentally wrong in bringing them to court – for years, they, and others who were members in a diverse network of position holders and dealers and were tied with these affairs, saw themselves as standing above the law.
The political and economic corruption is one of several malaises that became rooted in Israel’s society and could bring it to destruction faster than any Iranian nuclear bomb. I have already mentioned in the past the violent crime of the type we say two nights ago near the Rambam hospital in Haifa, the avoidance of military service, the deep poverty and the consumption of drugs. We receive frequent reminders of the depth into which the roots of this corruption have penetrated – the last one a few weeks ago relating to the activity of lobbyists in the Knesset building. The sentences handed down by the Israeli judicial system are suited more to a Central American banana republic than to a state that in some other ways leads the world. The sentence that will possibly be handed down to Shula Zaken following all the judicial tribulations will be another small step on the long road to uprooting political and economic corruption in Israel.