A Naughty MK

June 14, 2015

4 min read

Ira Sharkansky

This note is not about the great stuff circulating around Israel. It’s not relevant to the unhappiness of Jews with Israeli morality, or the more widespread animosity of goyim who qualify for contemporary conceptions of anti-Semitism.

It’s about one of the littlest pischers in Israeli politics. The youngest Knesset Member who barely squeaked via being #30 on the list of Likud that managed to elect 30 Knesset Members.

His father preceded him to the Knesset, and also to the embarrassment of doing what is not done, and finding himself on the outs with party colleagues. Dad (Yehiel Hazan) managed to vote twice on a measure by stretching to the place of an MK who was not in the hall, and using her voting button as well as his own. He made a clumsy effort to destroy the evidence, was caught, convicted, served out one term in the Knesset but was not elected to another.

Yehiel’s kid, Oren Hazan, was outed by an inquiry that appeared on one of the prime time news shows. It described him as operating a casino in the Bulgarian resort of Burgas, favored by low cost Israeli group tours, using drugs, and providing prostitutes for clients.

His response was not wise. It was conventional that he denied the use of drugs and procuring, and talked about bringing a suit for libel against the television channel. Not so clever was challenging the well regarded Chair of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, that he would make up and publish embarrassing stories about Edelstein. This came after Edelstein suspended Hazan from his role as a Deputy Chair of Knesset, with an occasional turn at presiding over Knesset discussions, pending the clearing of his name.

The story is more problematic than a politician said to be caught with drugs and prostitutes. Likud and its colleagues in the government are holding onto office by a majority of one. The whole establishment is vulnerable to an angry and apparently not very bright young man threatening revenge.

It is always appropriate to say that no man is guilty until proved so in court.

However, Hazan is not looking well. Not only did his threat against Edelstein suggest that he’s off the rails, but he’s been declared persona non grata by Bulgaria, and is being ridiculed by a wide range of Israeli media.

Ha’aretz put a cartoon of Hazan right at the top of its web site, showing him with a leering grin and his arms around two women of doubtful reputation, saying “It’s all photoshop.”

The next day’s Ha’aretz cartoon showed Hazan ingesting some of the illegal stuff, again in the company of a woman you’d probably not introduce to mother, and saying that crystal was better than the brown stuff.

Israel Hayom, widely chided as Bibipress, overlooked the embarrassment for the Prime Minister, who had worked to put Hazan on the party ticket. The paper featured Hazan and Edelstein on the front page, along with a commentary that began, “(Party) cooperation is the best way to deal with shame.”

Yedioth Aharonoth is not usually on the same side as Israel Hayom. But one of its op-eds began

“How did a person like Oren Hazan get into the Knesset?
It’s unbelievable how easily people can make their way from casinos and brothels in Bulgaria into Israel’s parliament . . . ”

Formally, there isn’t much the Knesset is likely to do. It’s not easy removing an elected Member, as Likud experienced with Hazan senior during the Knesset term of 2003-06.

Commentators are saying that the Hazan problem is a matter for politics and not the judiciary. His alleged misbehavior occurred in another country, which tolerates prostitution, but not drugs or procuring. Hazan is assertive in denying drug use, saying that it would threaten his delicate health. Proving one or another charges would not be easy, and might outlast the life span of this fragile government.

Yitzhak Herzog, the head of the the Knesset Opposition, has solved some of the problem by committing himself to balancing any participation by Hazan in a vote of no confidence. Not all Labor MKs are happy with Herzog’s commitment, but they have been hard pressed to suggest another way of dealing with a national embarrassment.

Likud MKs have been reluctant to express themselves, but there are rumbles that the Prime Minister is orchestrating something to pressure a resignation.

Hazan’s story is more entertaining than items also running about corruption among senior police officers, a former prosecutor, and a once prominent attorney said to have bribed them; charges against mafia heads; against a former senior MK of Labor; as well as waiting to see when former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert walks into prison.

While Hazan was being roasted by just about every Israeli politician and media source talking about him, Wednesday’s evening news portrayed him surrounded by admirers at a Likud party convention. His supporters were expressing views like They’re all corrupt. What’s his problem? Somebody’s always lying.

At the same time, Benyamin Netanyahu was working hard to keep the party convention from having the authority to select the party’s nominees for the Knesset.

Americans embarrassed by the rowdier elements at Presidential Nominating Conventions may understand what was happening. A Likud Party Convention includes the folks who have won selection as internal party gatherings. They used to have the authority to select the party’s list for the Knesset, in a process that was likely to include brawling in the hall along with more reasoned discussion. Currently the party selects its list by an open primary where all dues paying members are entitled to vote. It’s not free of dealing and claims of impropriety, but so far it’s been prettier than a Likud party convention.

If we can pass through BDS, occasional rockets from the south, buildup of the Islamic State and what is said to be 30 separate militias fighting one another, with some itching to fight us from Syria, then we should be able to manage one naughty boy who somehow got himself into the Knesset.

Before any of you moral highbrows begins to sneer about Israel, do a Google on “criminal charges against Members of Congress.”

The exercise won’t quiet those insisting that Israel must be more moral than others.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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