Israel's media has declared MK Oren Hazan (Likud) politically dead, after Channel 2 aired allegations that he ran a casino in Bulgaria, arranged call girl services for casino guests, and took drugs. At least two recent media items indicate an expectation that Hazan will resign and that he will be replaced by a liberal-minded woman, who is next in line on the Likud Knesset list.
Channel 2's diplomatic correspondent, Udi Segal, celebrated Hazan's public shaming – and declared the end of his career – in an opinion piece in Maariv Sunday.
Segal explained that Hazan is the latest in a series of Likud or ex-Likud politicians who have been implicated in sordid misdeeds, listing former president Moshe Katzav, former finance minister Avraham Hirshzon, and ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert as his predecessors.
While both Hirshzon and Olmert left Likud for the leftist Kadima that was formed to conduct the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza, Segal chose to emphasize their original Likud roots.
Hazan has not been found guilty of any offense, noted Segal, and has not even been investigated by police. He has shamed Likud and “the system,” but it is unlikely that a police investigation will be launched, and even the Knesset's Ethics Committee will have a hard time taking action against him for alleged misdeeds committed before he became an MK, in a foreign country.
Still, Segal insisted, Hazan's career is over. "Without a charge sheet, without a disciplinary court, without the Ethics Committee, Hazan has been distanced, excommunicated and relegated to social isolation on the way to retirement or to being forgotten. That is the bitter truth.”
Despite all this, explained the reporter and pundit, there is a positive side to the Hazan affair:
“Times have changed. The headlines heralding the end of the extremely short Hazan era in the 20th Knesset and politics are additional proof that we are advancing toward a natural and public process that will prevent people with a problematic past, extroverted and unrefined behavior and skeletons in the closet, from entering the red-hot political-media kitchen. How? Through shaming.”
While shaming is “a reprehensible, problematic and even dangerous phenomenon,” Segal added, “it can be a great vaccine in the right dosage.”
Hazan's name, gloated Segal, is on its way to Google hell. Soon, anyone searching for his name will immediately come up with the word “casino” alongside it. Unless something extremely unlikely happens, “his fate is sealed. And this is a good thing.”
Meanwhile, news website Ynet conducted an interview with Sharren Haskel, who was number 31 on Likud's Knesset list in the last elections. The interview centered on the possibility that Hazan would resign and Haskel would take his place. Haskel was depicted as a “moderate” who could easily fit into a leftist party – whose top political issues include animal rights and the environment, and who believes in coexistence with Israel's Arabs and “understanding” them as a top priority.
"Okay, I understand that you are trying to be politically correct, but it cannot be possible that you are not awaiting the moment that will enable you to become a Knesset Member,” the interviewer asked Haskel.
"I am waiting patiently and I am excited. I am already ready for the difficult work that will stand before me if I enter,” she replied.