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Corruptus in Extremis

Transparency International and the misleading Israeli corruption



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"Judæa, the first source of the evil"

I was searching illustrations suitable for this article, when I spotted the one at the right. It cites Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian, "In a state where corruption abounds, laws must be very numerous." He nailed the issue. After all, why should tax laws be unreadable to all except those profiting from them? However, that wasn't the reason it called my attention. Tacitus is known for being one of the few non-Christian sources mentioning Jesus. In Book 15 of his Annals, written circa 116AD, there is a passage mentioning Jesus Christ, Pontius Pilate, and a mass execution of Christians by Nero, which followed a six-day fire that burned much of Rome in July 64AD. He wrote: "...broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular." Sharp fellow! If he were alive now, he could keep writing about Israel and New York.

Cornelius Tacitus

Cornelius Tacitus

Corruption Perceptions Index 2012

In the first week of December, Transparency International published its annual report "Corruption Perceptions Index 2012." It analyzed the situation in 176 countries. Using a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), Denmark, Finland and New Zealand were at the top of the report with a score of 90 points; Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia were at the bottom with a score of just 8. Two-thirds of countries score below 50, indicating a serious corruption problem.

However, there is a more basic issue. How do you measure corruption? It is defined as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain;” as such, it is unlikely to be willingly reported. It is secretive and complex. Transparency International openly admits that its index shows only an approximation of reality and "it excludes other corrupt transactions such as the embezzlement of public funds or theft of public assets, or non-monetary bribes such as favours, services and gifts." In other words, it includes only a fraction of the possible manifestations of corruption. How do they calculate their index? They perform polls among country analysts, business people and the general public. Business people are unlikely to report their bribes; yet, the company also publishes "The Bribe Payers Index," which ranks the likelihood of companies from 28 leading economies to win business abroad by paying bribes. Moreover, the general public is unlikely to admit to the bribes paid for various services to the authorities. You won't hear a Bolivian professional boasting "I paid for my diploma." "Approximation" Transparency International defines its index. "Wild Underestimation," I correct it.

Corruption Perceptions Index 2012

Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 | Transparency International


Bravo Bibi!

A few weeks before the elections, Israel's Prime Minister is busy manipulating their results. Operation Pillar of Cloud was his boldest move. Finer ones include the odd behavior of Tzipi Livni, who probably handed Victory to Netanyahu, and the recent decision to redefine the West Bank as "Disputed Territory," unofficially annexing it. A populist leader who is not especially concerned about the legitimacy of his actions, Netanyahu will probably win the elections no matter what.

January 2013 was not the original date of the elections; they were scheduled for the following November. Netanyahu called for early elections with the knowledge that his party will benefit from this, despite the polls. Israeli polls are infamous for their inexactitude since denizens purposely tamper with the results according to their political targets. "Let's weaken Likud in polls, so that people will pity Netanyahu and vote for him," is the typical attitude. The new date meant that the elections will take place shortly after the publication of the "Corruption Perceptions Index 2012," providing Netanyahu with an especially cheap PR victory. Israeli corruption is legendary; I expanded on one of its ugliest manifestations in US Elections: Netanyahu's Dirty Trick.

Election Fraud

Election Fraud

State Corruption

State Corruption

Israel ranked 39 on the list of most corrupt countries with a score of 60, slightly behind Qatar, Cyprus and Botswana. It doesn't sound too good. However, the list includes 176 countries, thus Israel was placed close to its top end. Most analysts will remark that Israel ranked better than most of its immediate neighbours, and will praise the Zionist attempt to improve native practices. This is exactly what the Hebrew media is doing. In a sarcastic opening to their article on the event, Haaretz, the unofficial Voice of Shin Beth, wrote "Despite the efforts of campaigners in different parts of the world..." As Cornelius Tacitus did almost two millenia ago, they nailed the issue in a sentence. There is no way of conducting an honest poll on corruption in Israel. People won't answer it honestly, they will manipulate it attempting to achieve "a good place in the middle," as it is often said in Hebrew. Not too high that it would call attention, but not too close to the awful reality. Place 39 out of 176 is about right. What Haaretz defined as "efforts of the campaigners" relates to the tampering of the already inaccurate polls. Bravo Bibi, Lord of Judæa, Corruptus in Extremis!

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