Benjamin Netanyahu is really clean
He has already presented many exclusive revelations on Israeli television, but this story was also unusual for Raviv Drucker: At the end of 2016, he reported on the Channel 10 television station about allegations of corruption in the purchase of Israeli submarines from the German Thyssenkrupp company - and thus started investigations in Israel and later also in Germany. The focus was on several men close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And Raviv Drucker, who got the ball rolling, became, as the newspaper did Haaretz called, finally, "Netanyahu's most hated journalist".
Hated by the prime minister, highly regarded by the public - in any case, Drucker, 51, is probably Israel's best-known investigative reporter. He lives with his family in Tel Aviv, the meeting point is a street café around the corner from his apartment. It is an election campaign in Israel, "a lot to do," he says. But he seems relaxed and sips the coffee that he picked up in the paper cup at the counter.
His trademark is hard, investigative research - in all directions. With a story about fraud in the internal primaries, he already got the left Labor Party into trouble in 2007. He caused some trouble for right-wing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2006 with a story about the political influence that his son Omri wielded behind the scenes. And Netanyahu's predecessor in office, Ehud Olmert, annoyed him so much with his reports that he insulted him as "Netanyahu's court reporter".
Perhaps Netanyahu himself liked to believe that at the time; in any case, it was in his interest that Drucker put pressure on his political rivals. "I had a very good relationship with Netanyahu at the time," he recalls. "I could talk to him whenever I wanted, and he said I was the only journalist who did a good job."
Due to circumstances, however, this assessment changed very quickly. In 2008 Drucker caused a sensation with a story about sponsored luxury trips that had taken the then opposition leader Netanyahu and his wife Sara to London. When Netanyahu came to power in 2009, more revelations followed - up to the whole series of reports that Drucker made people sit up and take notice in late 2016. In addition to the story about the suspicion of corruption in the submarine business with Germany, it was also about expensive vacations that the Australian billionaire James Packer Netanyahu's son Jair is said to have paid for.
Netanyahu went on the offensive quickly, at full speed. On Facebook, he accused Drucker of "obsessively persecuting" the Prime Minister and his family and spoke of "smear campaigns". His Likud party even tweeted last summer after another revelation: "In a just world, Raviv Drucker would go to jail for broadcasting information from criminally leaky sources."
Netanyahu is trying to turn Drucker into some kind of public enemy
The pressure on printers is enormous now, and Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to turn him into something of an enemy of the state. "I usually enjoy that status. I get a lot of attention, which is good for a journalist," he says. "But I have to admit it hasn't been so fun the last few years. It's gotten personal and it's getting harder and harder to work."
He doesn't really worry about himself, even if his employer has put him under personal protection in the meantime. "That was only for a week, I don't feel threatened," he says. He also believes his job is secure, although his old station had to merge for financial reasons - and the majority of the new Channel 13 is held by a billionaire named Leonard Blavatnik with excellent connections to Netanyahu. Last summer there was already a wave of layoffs in the editorial team with reference to austerity, but Drucker stayed on the job. "It wasn't political," he says.
What really worries him is the state of Israeli democracy. Netanyahu is on trial for three corruption cases, and all of his actions are designed to avoid trial. He attacks political opponents, the judiciary and the media, he drives the country into more and more elections. "This prime minister has no stop signs," says Drucker. "I always thought it was too hard to compare Israel to Hungary, Poland or Russia. But now I'm not sure anymore." The decisive factor, he says, will now be the outcome of the parliamentary elections on March 23: "There is a possibility that Netanyahu may lose. But psychologically, I am preparing for the worst."
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