Trouble in Kadima

I attended a political event a few months ago where the speaker stated emphatically, and what may be construed as presumptuously, that if anybody wants to make a difference in Israel politically, there are only two parties to join. One is Likud, and the other is Labor. Anticipating the question, he immediately addressed the subject of Kadima, which, he said, would slip out of existence in the coming years.

I wasn’t sure if I believed him or not. I simply preferred to sit back and see if he was right. Well, two pieces of news came out today that are inching in that direction.

MollaFirst, is a story you’ve probably heard before. A Knesset Member pocketing campaign donations, and even charity donations, from US organizations. Well, who doesn’t these days? Or otherwise misuse earmarked funds for some such thing – apartment renovations (Dalia Itzik, former Knesset Speaker), inordinate travel expenditures, whatever. The case here is that of Kadima MK Shlomo Molla, who, sadly, is the only Ethiopian parliamentarian in the Knesset today. As such, I hate to see him get himself into this mess, because the Ethiopian community really needs strengthening, and doesn’t need its representative embroiled in scandals. But what’s done is done, allegedly of course.

Here’s the scoop. Molla was first caught lying about a BA he received from Bar Ilan University, when in fact he never finished the degree. While that’s annoying, it’s not exactly horrible scandalous. But now, he is accused of pocketing money from private organizations that supported his campaign. Instead of using the money for the campaign, he bought presents for his family. Well, you could argue that he would have used his own money, which would now have been dedicated to the campaign, but you can’t really prove that.

He also took a $17,000 donation from a Jews for Jesus group, who gave him the money on condition that $10,000 would go towards the needs of the Ethiopian community in Israel. Allegedly, the money was transferred to his personal savings account instead. A source close to Molla said that he kept saying that “…it was not important, that the money only came from Jews for Jesus and not from real Jews,” and that “He tried to make them sound ugly so that no one would care about what happened to the money.”

On a more holistic Kadima front, the editor-in-chief of the party’s website, Amir Segal, wrote an op-ed piece on the site. It was about Kadima head and opposition leader Tzipi Livni. “The de-legitimization Livni is suffering from is not just her private problem,” he wrote. “It radiates onto the entire party. More and more Knesset Members and central activists feel comfortable challenging, criticizing or showing contempt for their chairwoman.”

So we’ll see what happens there. ‘Tis hard to tell whether Kadima will survive, or split. Maybe they will, maybe not. And maybe Labor will come shooting back if Kadima trips. Or maybe the Messiah will come in the meantime or something. I give him 10 minutes.

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