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When will despotic, authoritarian, world leaders, including Boris Johnson, finally learn that corruption is not a viable qualification for high office? In the Guardian Article entitled, “Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumes weeks before Israeli election,” they say that the, “PM alleged to have accepted gifts from billionaires and traded favours with media and telecoms moguls. Benjamin Netanyahu has told judges he is innocent of corruption charges, as a high-profile trial against the Israeli prime minister resumed weeks before a national election. Following a nearly-half-year hiatus and repeated delays due to the pandemic, hearings restarted on Monday. The court expected to announce a schedule for the potentially explosive witness testimony and evidence stage of the trial. As the hearing began, Netanyahu stood in a black surgical mask and was required by the judges to verbally confirm that he backed his lawyer’s written defence. ‘I confirm the written answer submitted in my name,’ Netanyahu told a three-judge panel.”
The Guardian report that, “The 71-year-old leader then jotted notes on a pad as his lawyers began to argue against the charges. Inaudible chants of dozens of anti-Netanyahu protesters outside could be heard inside the courtroom. Less than half an hour after the hearing started, Netanyahu stood, thanked the court and then left the room, without objections from the judges. His lawyers continued to speak as the prime minister’s motorcade departed outside. Israel’s longest-serving leader is alleged to have accepted hundreds of thousands of pounds in luxury gifts from billionaire friends and traded valuable favours with Israeli media and telecoms moguls for favourable news coverage.” In a quick guide to, “The police investigations swirling around Netanyahu,” they say that Netanyahu is, “the first serving Israeli premier to go on trial, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, alleging he is the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.” It looks like Netanyahu wants to emulate the amazing track record of our PM, Boris Johnson!
The Guardian say that, “Regular court appearances could present an image problem for Netanyahu, who also faces discontent over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Israel, with a population of 9 million, is facing a relatively high death toll and infection rate. Netanyahu is betting on a world-leading vaccination campaign to yield results before the 23 March national vote. More than one in three Israelis have received jabs, and last week the country opened vaccinations to anyone over the age of 16. During the past two years, Israel has been engulfed in a protracted political crisis in which attempts to form a coalition government have repeatedly broken down. March’s election will be the country’s fourth within that timeframe. Netanyahu’s steadfast popularity among many rightwing voters has been a central sticking point in the crisis. While his bickering rivals have sought to capitalise on the corruption allegations, it is unclear if the issue has significantly swayed the Israeli electorate.”
The Guardian report that, “Indicted in 2019 in three separate cases, Netanyahu faces more than a decade in prison if convicted, although the trial could take years. He is accused of accepting expensive gifts including champagne, jewellery and cigars, and colluding with Israeli media magnates to publish favourable stories about him while smearing his political opponents. Unlike one of his predecessors, Ehud Olmert, who stepped down after it appeared he would be indicted, Netanyahu has refused to leave power.” Reuters offer an, “Explainer: What’s at stake for Israel’s Netanyahu as corruption trial resumes?” Posted by, “Jerusalem (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumes on Monday, when Israel’s longest-serving leader will have to enter his plea to charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Involving secret recordings, media moguls, gifts of cigars and champagne and aides’ betrayals, the three corruption cases have all the makings of a political thriller.”
Reuters ask, “Will it bring him down?” They report that, “Netanyahu has managed to stay in office throughout the investigations and three election campaigns – with a fourth election due on March 23. He denies wrongdoing and a trial is likely to take years. He will fight to remain prime minister in March and possibly for years afterwards. If he wins, he could try to secure parliamentary immunity, or pass laws to exempt a serving prime minister from standing trial.” They ask, “How has he remained in office?” They explain how, “Under Israeli law, a prime minister is under no obligation to stand down unless convicted. No other government minister is protected in this way, so there are legal and political reasons why Netanyahu wants to stay at the top.” Surely the most essential role of a Prime Minister of any country should be to prioritize serving the best interests of its citizens, not avoiding a jail sentence?
Reuters ask, “Do Israelis care?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes. The corruption case has had a polarising impact on Israelis. Thousands of demonstrators gather weekly outside his official residence and across Israel under the banner of ‘Crime Minister’, demanding he quit. But his right-wing voter base has stayed loyal. Supporters see the man they call King Bibi as strong on security and an influential voice for Israel abroad.” Like other populist so-called, ‘strong men’ portray an image of strength as a protector based on the ramped-up atmosphere of fear. In Israel it is an intense fear among the Jewish population of growing rebellion and retribution for their persecution of the Palistinian people. The real solution is to dismantle the aparthide system, end humanitarian abuse and work towards a peaceful solution not increased violent repression and persecution. Other far-right populist despots like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have selected immigrants as an easy scapegoat to generate an atmosphere of anger and fear.
Reuters ask, “What are the charges?” They list the specific charges as: “Case 4000 alleges Netanyahu granted regulatory favours worth around 1.8 billion shekels (about $500 million) to telecommunications company Bezeq Telecom Israel. In return, prosecutors say, he sought positive coverage of himself and wife Sara on a news website controlled by the company’s former chairman, Shaul Elovitch. In this case, Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Elovitch and his wife, Iris, have been charged with bribery and obstruction of justice. The couple deny wrongdoing.” Compared to Boris Johnson and current Tory Party Ministers, the charges against Netanyahu are negligible; if our politicians were held to a similar standard it would totally wipe out the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship that is truly riddled with corruption from the Covert 2019 Rigged Election to the massive procurement scandal. We need to fully Investigate the 2019 result as well as the allocations of contracts to Tory Party donors and cronies.
But the charges do not end there, Reuters also list, “Case 1000, in which Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust, centres on allegations that he and his wife wrongfully received almost 700,000 shekels worth of gifts from Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen, and Australian billionaire businessman James Packer. Prosecutors said gifts included champagne and cigars and that Netanyahu helped Milchan with his business interests. Packer and Milchan face no charges. Case 2000 alleges Netanyahu negotiated a deal with Arnon Mozes, owner of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, for better coverage and that, in return, he offered legislation that would slow the growth of a rival newspaper. Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust. Mozes has been charged with offering a bribe, and denies wrongdoing.” Compared to the billions in public funds that ae still being shoveled out the door by the Tories with impunity, Bibi’s bribes are chump change!
Reuters asks, “What does netanyahu say? Netanyahu says he is the victim of a politically orchestrated ‘witch hunt’ by the left and media to oust him from office, and that receiving gifts from friends is not against the law.” They ask, “Could he go to jail?” According to Reuters, “Bribery charges carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years and/or a fine. Fraud and breach of trust carry a sentence of up to three years.” So they ask, “Will a verdict come soon?” Reuters says this is, “Unlikely. The trial could take years. But proceedings could be cut short if Netanyahu seeks a plea deal.” It seems that the message is, if you want to escape justice for engaging in rampant corruption you should run for public office! Donald Trump is also facing multiple corruption charges with political pundits speculating that he would authorize his own pardon before leaving office. Corruption is also catching up with JaIr Bolsonaro in Brazil where he used fake corruption charges to take out his most popular political rival in order to win the election;
These examples pale in comparison to the astronomical level of political corruption here in the UK over the past few years; it has become an accepted business model for entering Government with any attempt to challenge the perpetrators considered just ‘not cricket!’ In Iceland corruption took down a former Government, in the UK the perpetrators have dismantled the tools with which we can hold them to account and it is getting worse by the day. The corrupt squandering of public funds is obvious, but has taken a crowdfunding campaign to bring to court. Why can’t the British demand justice. In the Canary Article entitled, “A report just exposed how establishment media pushed Tory 2019 election lies,” they say that, “A campaign group has released a report. It details the extent of the Conservative Party’s use of ‘disinformation’ during the 2019 general election campaign. The detail is staggering. But so far, the report has barely made a ripple in the media; probably because the establishment press is implicated in it.”
The Canary report on a group, “Defending the truth, Truth Defence describes itself as: a collective of activists, lawyers, creatives, journalists, academics and citizens concerned about the spread of misinformation online, in traditional media, and in political advertising and campaigning. Its founders are Dr Justin Schlosberg, a senior lecturer in journalism and media at Birkbeck, University of London, and former ANC MP and campaigner Andrew Feinstein. Previously, it had worked on ‘Lawfare’: i.e. the “use of litigation for political or ideological ends.’ But now it has turned its attention to the 2019 general election. Called GE2019: a post mortem, its author Scholsberg’s findings are damning.” Especially so since they are only covering one aspect of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. That said, they’re attacking an area of corrupt practice that has brought down political leaders overseas in the past.
The Canary reveal, “The 2019 general election: a post mortem. The backdrop to Truth Defence’s report saw the Tories sweep to power with a majority of 80. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, after (as BBC News put it) ‘exceeding all expectations’ in 2017 with a 40% vote share, crashed and burned. It won 203 seats. But as Truth Defence investigated, disinformation may have played a part. It said that: the evidence collected strongly suggests that disinformation was an endemic feature of the Conservative Party campaign. Although it does not make comfortable reading for the Labour Party either, the extent and frequency of misleading online ads between the major parties was incomparable, and the establishment corporate media was central to this.”
“Enter the corporate media,” say the Canary, “Truth Defence looked at the media’s role in election disinformation. It highlighted some of the print media. The report noted a false Tory claim about Labour: At the start of the campaign, a Conservative press release claiming Labour’s spending plans would amount to £1.2 trillion over five years, rapidly discredited by fact checking organisations and journalists themselves, was splashed across the front pages of the biggest Sunday newspapers including the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and Mail on Sunday; titles that collectively account for over 60% of total circulation. It said TV news ‘on the whole… did challenge and question’ many of the Tories’ advert claims. But as the report noted, TV news took its time.” It is important to remember that the BBC News program reviewing the next day’s Papers is very easily manipulated to function as a megaphone for unsubstantiated tabloid headlines, especially with the selection of mostly right-wing paper review guests.
The Canary give an, “example, over the infamous ’40 new hospitals’ claim: On television, the claim was first made by Boris Johnson during a recorded interview segment for the ITV Lunchtime News on 14th November. It was then repeated during a live studio interview with Johnson on BBC Breakfast the following morning. But it wasn’t until the 19th November, when the claim was repeated by James Cleverly on the BBC’s late evening Newsnight programme, that it was subject to any challenge or questioning by journalists.” This has now expanded to 48 new Hospitals pledged in Parliament during Prime Minister Questions, still with no explanation of how this will be funded, where or when they will be built. Televised PMQs has become a weekly Tory Party Political Broadcast!
Pulling no punches? The Canary report that, “Truth Defence didn’t give TV news a free pass, with it noting one incident in particular: During the final days of the campaign, the significance of time lags in correcting stories intensifies exponentially. Not long after ‘senior Tories’ briefed the political news editor of both the BBC and ITV that one of their special advisors had been ‘punched’ by a Labour activist, video footage emerged showing that the advisor had merely bumped into a protester outside a hospital in Leeds. But the news had already been reported by both editors who tweeted it virtually without any qualification. It was also covered as a ‘breaking news’ piece on television where a BBC News anchor affirmed that ‘some punches or at least one punch has been thrown there’. The report also said how much of the TV news reported on fake news, but that ‘at no point’ did any of it highlight the Tories’ role in ‘fermenting’ these untruths.”
But, the Canary claim that, “it wasn’t only in the media that disinformation was peddled. Because advertising also played a major role.” They described, “A huge operation. It found that overall the Tories’ advertising operation was huge. The report said that the party: ran a total of 167 adverts across Facebook and Google which were either subsequently removed due to breach of the platform’s advertising policies and/or featured misleading or inaccurate claims. These ads ran for a cumulative total of 1,038 days which is the closest proxy measure for exposure and reach (given that both Facebook and Google only provide indicative ranges for the number of impressions generated by each ad). The equivalent figure for Labour was 139 [days]. The extent of false online advertising by the Conservatives was therefore seven times that of Labour.” We should not tolerate this from any Political Party.
In “Manipulating adverts” the Canary say, “Truth Defence wrote about many of the Tory’s advert claims. For example, these included the ‘40 new hospitals’ claim that FullFact pulled apart. It said: Of the ‘40 new hospitals’ promised in the Conservative manifesto, only six have actually been given money to start building works and those are upgrades to existing hospitals. Labour was also guilty of disinformation in adverts. For example, one said that ‘Tories cut £8 billion from social care’. But as FullFact said: This figure refers to the savings councils in England have made on adult social care spending since 2010, not the amount their overall adult social care budgets were reduced by. Yet still, the Tories disinformation dwarfed Labour’s and it was also more targeted.” They don’t mention the main source of shocking defamatory smears targeting Jeremy Corbyn that were generated at the taxpayers expense by the Integrity Initiative at the request of the Tories; this deceitful propaganda helped rig the 2019 election!
In describing, “Targeted action,” the Canary say that, “Truth Defence’s reported said that: What was particularly striking about the Conservatives’ false or misleading ad campaigns was the degree to which they were concentrated on the last week before polling day. On Google, the party ran nearly 50% of all their false advertising during this single crucial week. Given that the average time lag for Google to remove ads deemed in breach of its policies was 7 days, this strategy ensured that any such removals would have a negligible impact on the campaign. Indeed, five of the ads that were banned by Google were only removed on polling day itself. If this wasn’t enough, Truth Defence found more. It noted that:
• On Facebook, the Tories focused on promoting their manifesto. But on Google, the adverts were around Labour’s plans.
• The Tories made these Google ads to ‘deceive voters into thinking they were… promoted by the Labour Party, directing them to the URL ‘LabourManifesto.co.uk’. Truth Defence says this breached Google rules.”
The Canary reveal that, “Overall, the report confirms what other researchers previously found. One example is First Draft’s analysis. It found that between 1-4 December 2020, around 88% of the total 6,749 Tory ads made false or misleading claims. At the time, senior Tory Michael Gove was typically obtuse, saying the ads must have been ‘errors’. But Truth Defence was highly critical of the whole situation.” Regarding, “Mainstream disinformation, It summed up by saying: The phenomenon of disinformation during election campaigns is of course nothing new. But what was relatively unique about the 2019 election was not just the prevalence and systemic nature of disinformation, but the fact that it stemmed primarily from the major political parties and was amplified by a combination of the mainstream press, tech platforms and, to a more limited extent, broadcasters. The problem was not so much to do with disinformation stemming from foreign interference or the political fringes, but rather the political mainstream.”
The Canary claim, “Our research suggests that neither the online platforms nor television news providers did enough to check or stem the circulation of false claims. The failure of the platforms in this respect was particularly noticeable, given that it took on average several days for them to remove ads judged in breach of their policies. In election terms, that is a very long time indeed.” The Canary say there are, “Real-world consequences,” as, “Truth Defence also put its report into present-day context: The Covid emergency has both obscured attention to this problem, and also made it all the more significant. The extent of disinformation revealed in this report raises profound questions that are unanswerable but also inescapable: were it not for the scale of disinformation, would the UK have had a different government responsible for handling the biggest national crisis since the Second World War? If so, would the outcome have been different? Would more or less lives have been lost?”
The Canary warn, “These are painfully relevant points,” they say, “Truth Defence also concluded that things have to change: In summary, the evidence suggests that the current regulatory framework for political advertising and campaigning during elections is not fit for purpose and wholly inadequate for the digital terrain on which elections are increasingly fought. It said: “Unless and until the major platforms are able to implement a robust fact checking approval system before publication, there is an unanswerable case to ban all political advertising online during election periods. Given the current government is the one that benefited from the vast disinformation campaign, it’s unlikely to change the rules itself. All opposition political parties must not only convey the scale of the problem to the public but commit to eradicating it in their next manifestos, and the media must follow their lead.” With the recent appointment of alt-right Paul Dacre to head Ofcom, broadcast integrity just took another huge hit that will greatly exacerbate this problem.
Where the rubber really hits the road on Tory Party corruption is that a massive amount of damaging defamatory information was deliberately generated by a fake Charity called the ‘Integrity Inititave’ part of the clandestine ‘Institute for Statecraft’ funded by the Tories using public funding. This shady operation run by washed–up ex MI5 and MI6 operatives has been exposed for their illegal interference in foreign elections, including Spain and others, besides trying to meddle in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election by inventing and disseminating fantisemitism smears about Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party at the expense of UK taxpayers. Although the process of conviction and removal is remarkably speedy when false allegations are used as they were against Lula in Brazil, it can take an eternity to remove infamously corrupt despots. In a functioning democracy this recourse to justice is at least possible and with loud, unrelenting protest it could be demanded here in the UK too; the evidence awaits the determination of the people to act. DO NOT MOVE ON!