Jerusalem, January 4 - A new mark has been set for Israel's political system now that it has gone a full four days into 2017 without word of a new sex scandal involving parliamentarians, ministers, senior officials in government agencies or offices, or other high-ranking public figures.
By going ninety-six hours into the new year without reportage of sexual harassment, illicit liaisons, or various forms of non-consensual sex involving one or more such public officials, Israeli politics broke the previous record of eighty-nine hours, set in 1991 and again in 2000. Typically, a new sex scandal emerges in Israeli politics every seventeen minutes, according to data from the Central bureau of Statistics.
Experts caution that the record applies only to sex scandals, whereas other forms of alleged misconduct occur daily. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself underwent three hours of police questioning as part of an investigation into possible corruption on his part.
"The new record actually outperforms most OECD countries, but it holds only in reference to sex scandals per se," observed Kol Israel Radio political analyst Hanan Krystal. "In terms of overall political shenanigans, we're pretty bad. But we can feel good about this achievement, even if it only means politicians have been getting better at covering up or destroying evidence of their illicit sexual exploits." He also stressed that a lack of reporting of a sex scandal does not necessarily indicate no knowledge among the media of such phenomena - editors and journalists might have decided to delay or suppress the story for political or other considerations.
Bureau records indicate that the longest consecutive period in Israeli history for which data are available with a complete lack of sexual scandals reported occurred during the First Gulf War in 1991. At the time, the country went eleven days with not a single sexual accusation against a prominent public official published in the media. Such records have been kept since 1966.
Technically, Krystal pointed out, the sex-scandal-story-free period began last Friday, meaning the full length of the record-breaking period is six days. "The first day of the year was Sunday, but Israeli politics was already without reports of a sex scandal for two days already by that point," he explained. "The last time that happened was the first couple of times corruption allegations against Netanyahu were bandied about, back in 2009. Editors realized that the officials being accused of rape and harassment weren't from Bibi's end of the political spectrum, so publishing those stories would distract from, rather than amplify, the overarching need to bring the man down. I'd consider this one a fluke until it gets into double digits."