Last week’s arrest of more than 40 people in New York and New Jersey on a massive money laundering and corruption rap, could not have come at a worse time for both Israeli and American Jewry, especially with the 150 year sentencing of Ponzi scheme master Bernard Madoff still very prominent on peoples minds. The bust, which came after a long investigation by the FBI and other legal authorities, not only includes a number of prominent area Rabbis (including one aged 87) but several legal and political figures as well.
The various charges against these people include an extensive money laundering operation that involved underworld crime families and stretched from Mid-America to Tel Aviv and back. Money that was supposed to be contributions for various charity organizations is now said to have been actually monies for underworld sources and funneled though Swiss banks into Israel, and then out again, had been orchestred by a prominent member of the Syrian Jewish Community, Solomon Dwek, who later cooperated with the Feds and even helped to garnish the necessary evidence to nail many of the accused, including the spiritual leader New York’s Syrian Jewish community, Rabbi Saul Kassin, 87; who was later released after posting bail:
Dwek, appears to have a history of being involved in shady dealings; despite the fact he has once a prominent member of the Shas political party in Israel. He decided to cooperate with the FBI after losing a considerable amount of money (other people’s) and passing several bad checks for considerable sums. Beside the other four Rabbis involved, including Rabbi Edmund Nachman of the Deal Synagogue, Mordechai Fishman of Congregation Sheves Achim, and Rabbi Ben-Haim of Congregation Ohel Yaacub, some well known non-Jewish personalities were also busted, including Hoboken N.J. Mayor Peter Cammarano III, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, state Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith and state Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt.
One charge that apparently has enraged many people is the one involving Levy Yitzhak Rosenbaum who is being charged with dealing in human kidneys which were supposedly “donated” to him for around $10,000, and later sold to recipients for amounts ranging up to $160,000, with the “profits” going to hospitals and surgeons, after Rosenbaum’s “commission” was deducted.
The corruption side of the story, involving various politicians and legal persons, only further exposes the amount of corruption going on in states like New Jersey, made known during the six year successful television series, The Sopranos, which dealt with the activities of a fictional New Jersey Mafia family headed by a colorful character named Anthony (Tony) Soprano.
But anyone who hails from this neck of the woods is aware that these kinds of activities have been going on for a long, long time, despite New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine saying:
“The scale of corruption we’re seeing as this unfolds is simply outrageous and cannot be tolerated.”
Really now, Jon; are you saying you were totally unaware that these kinds of activities have been going on? Are you really so innocent and lily-white; as compared to such people as former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, now facing charges of racketeering, extortion, and fraud? Didn’t you yourself watch the exploits of Tony and the Gang during their 6 year TV stint. We bet you did!
But the fact that this big bust is happening now, presents a worrisome picture of what could be in store for Jewish communities in America in the coming months, as more efforts may be made by “zealous” US governmental agencies, under the ultimate control of the US Department of Justice – and of course the White House – to uncover activities which may have been even accepted as being commonplace among many communities; especially in cities like Hoboken and Trenton New Jersey. Notwithstanding that the area’s Muslim population, which is also quite large and has many Islamic charities and other organizations; has also been said to be involved in similar activities as well, including sending large sums of money to radical Muslim groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and even Al Qaeda.
But for the moment anyway, this subject appears to be under wraps, while the media and US legal authorities appear to be having a field day in “nailing the Jews”. The bottom line to this entire scenario is that things have changed for the American Jewish Community, and for Israel, since the new US Administration has taken over in Washington – and definitely not for the better.