TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday posted a video with Hebrew subtitles on his social media accounts entitled “The Coup Against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” in which a former U.S. federal prosecutor tells Mark Levin that the Israeli premier is facing bogus charges orchestrated by an “unethical” and “feckless” attorney general.
The BlazeTV interview was hosted by Levin, a star radio host, lawyer, author and also the host of a popular weekend show on Fox News. The interview first aired on December 11.
“I do not believe that — in my view — the greatest prime minister in the history of Israel has had a fair shake with the Israeli media and most of the American media,” Levin said.
“And so using our new technologies, using the platform we have here, I intend to do my very best to explain these allegations against the prime minister of Israel and to explain why they are so untoward.”
Soon after Levin’s program was broadcast, Netanyahu tweeted a Breitbart Jerusalem article on the interview.
ארתור פרגסון, לשעבר תובע פדרלי בארה״ב: ״נתניהו הוא קורבן של הפיכה משפטית״https://t.co/I365PpWQP8
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) December 17, 2019
In the show, Levin and his guest, defense attorney Arthur Fergenson, explained why the Netanyahu case troubles them.
“You are Jewish, I am Jewish and what happens in Israel matters to us,” Levin said. “It’s the ancestral home of the Jewish people.”
According to Levin, the timing of the Netanyahu indictment, weeks before a general election, is nothing short of “devious.”
“This is, in our view, a coup attempt of a sitting prime minister,” Levin said.
Fergenson then proceeded to pick apart each case one by one. The 93-page charge sheet, he said, reads like an editorial and is replete with obfuscating and “enormously verbose” emotional language.
“It reminds me of [dismissed FBI chief] James Comey,” Fergenson said. Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit “weaves a fantasy” with a document “designed to smother the public and any one in the press who wants to fairly analyze the charges,” he added.
There are three cases facing the prime minister. Case 1000 accuses Netanyahu and his wife Sara of receiving illegal gifts from billionaire benefactors, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer.
In Case 2000, Netanyahu is suspected of striking a deal with media mogul Arnon (Noni) Mozes whereby the premier would weaken the Sheldon Adelson-backed daily Israel Hayom in return for more favorable coverage in Mozes’ Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. In his defense, Netanyahu said that he specifically voted against the law that would have weakened Israel Hayom, risking his political career in 2014 and calling new elections because of it.
The so-called Case 4000 involves Israeli telecommunications company Bezeq. Netanyahu is accused of ordering that regulations on Bezeq be eased in return for the phone company’s chief shareholder Shaul Elovitch giving Netanyahu positive coverage on his news site Walla.
According to Fergenson, juxtaposing Packer’s gifts with Milchan’s, even though there was no specific wrongdoing in receiving them, was nothing more than an attempt to inflate numbers.
“He alleges that the amount [Netanyahu] received over a five year period was very high,” Fergenson said. It’s an “unethical way to prejudice the public opinion.”
“He had to juice count one [Case 1000], and if he had to juice count one he’ll juice them all,” he added.
Netanyahu’s defense for Case 2000, Fergenson says, is in part that the prime minister recorded the meeting with Mozes and sought legal advice about the legality of such a move.
In Case 4000, Fergenson emphasizes, there is no evidence that Netanyahu ever agreed to or accepted a bribe. Mandelblit’s decision, Fergenson charges, translates into policing the freedom of Israel’s press. “That doesn’t belong in a criminal trial,” he said.
Fergenson points out that the indictment is heavy with editorialization and loaded language relating to the prime minister, including repeated use of words such as “deviant,” “abnormal” and “egregious.”
Levin added that the prosecution also orchestrated well-timed leaks before key dates, including elections and court dates, in order to bolster the attorney general’s narrative and smear the prime minister. He likened it to the Dreyfus case.
Furthermore, Fergenson explained, bringing 333 witnesses against the prime minister would necessitate an extremely lengthy trial. Mandelblit is essentially warning the Israeli public, “I will cripple him if you elect him as prime minister and I will cripple the State of Israel,” Fergenson said.
Fergenson called on the Israeli public to demand that the press and analysts give the indictment a thorough reading.
“If we are the People of the Book [then] we’ve been given a whole new book that is longer than most of the Prophets,” he quipped. “Read it, engage [with] it, discuss it and I believe that you, the people of Israel, and the people around the world, will understand what a put up job this is.”