a different side of Israel

Tag: money laundering

Lieberman “If I’m indicted, I’ll quit all my political positions”

Avigdor LiebermanIs Avigdor Lieberman the big bad wolf, or really a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Following a number of allegations being made against him by the police for crimes that include money laundering, and accepting bribery, Israel’s Foreign Minister now appears to be ready test his popularity among his own party, Yisrael Beitenu, as well as the Likud led Netanyahu government. By threatening to leave political life, including heading his own party, his cabinet post, and even his Knesset seat, Lieberman hope to get his constituents to rally around him and in the end make him even stronger politically. This supposition became apparent when he stated yesterday that he believes that he will no only win out over the legal case that is built against him, but will even garnish more Knesset mandates (as many as 20) in the next election.

“I reviewed everything I said in the questioning sessions, and I am at peace with all of my actions,” he said. “If I had the opportunity to do things over again, I would do the same.”

The question a lot people are asking, what “things” is Lieberman talking about? Obviously, the F.M. still has a number of issues to work out concerning his activities, both business and political, which seem to be mounting up against him. Since being chosen for the second highest cabinet post behind the Prime Minister’s, Lieberman has not exactly won over most of the world as well as many people here in Israel. Only perhaps in Russia has he been able to find a bit of respect, as he sees eye to eye with people such as Russian P.M. Vladimir Putin. But in the rest of Europe, as well as the USA, his manner has been not well received by virtually everyone he has come in contact with.

Political circles in Jerusalem are already speculating as to who would replace Lieberman should he step down. Most likely, Deputy F.M. Danny Ayalon (a former ambassador to the USA) would temporarily replace him, which makes a lot people happy as Ayalon was very well liked during his tenure in Washington. As to who would replace him in his own party, right winged No. 2, Uzi Landau, would be a likely candidate; although his personal political views are a bit on the extreme side.

Kadima Party head Tzipi Livni doesn’t appear willing to join a Netanyahu led government, so her likelihood of again assuming the post is not likely at present. But in the game of Israeli politics, anything is possible, however.

But the police appear to be putting a case together against Lieberman, and are being backed up by former Police Chief Inspectors, and other high police officials. But Lieberman has managed to keep himself ahead of his accusers before, and could very well be successful again. It all depends on who really is running the police.


Rabbi uner arrest
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.

A Decade Later – Will Lieberman Finally Face the Music?

For such a young country that has sprung up out of the desert as a regional powerhouse in a matter of decades, Israel sure takes its sweet time when it comes to investigations and legal action against its leaders. An ongoing probe into Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that started back when I was in middle school (I’m now 25 and married) is now, finally, coming to a close. Lieberman is suspected of funneling millions of dollars through Cyprus for some good old-fashioned money laundering purposes.

We all have to ask ourselves what, indeed, went on these past 10 years that it took an entire decade to figure out what was going on? The answer, as far as I can tell, is lots of coffee breaks and paid sick days, with some coalition government deals helping the sloth along a bit.

The way coalition government deals work here is, let’s say a government controls 65 seats out of a 120-seat parliament. Now let’s say a big Russian guy named, oh, Avigdor Lieberman to pick a randomly preselected name out of a hat, heads a 15-seat faction in that government. If he leaves, then the government falls, which the Prime Minister doesn’t really want, because that would mean he doesn’t get to be Prime Minister anymore, which would make him sad. So Avigdor says something like, “Hey, Bibi, would you mind making sure the police take plenty of coffee breaks and paid sick days so I don’t get indicted for money laundering? That would be really convenient. I mean, I wouldn’t want to *cough* leave the *cough* government or anything.”

Oh, I don’t have a recording of this conversation or anything, but I’m willing to bet that coughing was involved in some way or another. It usually is in these government setups.

Weimar RepublicAnd most people don’t even know this, but the system of government on which the functionality of the Israeli Knesset is based is, actually, the Weimar Republic of post World War I Germany (flag on right) which quickly fell and led to the rise of the Third Reich. This is an encouraging statistic for those of us who like uneasy excitement in the world. For those of us who suffer from ulcers, it’s a different story.

As reported by Ynetnews, Dr. Aviad HaCohen of Sha’arei Mishpat Academic College was quoted as saying on the case that:

“Although this is complicated and intricate, there is no justification for spreading this over such a long period of time.” In a fit of understatement, he continued, “This is not just causing a delay of justice for Lieberman, but also casting a heavy shadow over the Israeli government.”

It’s hard to say if shadows can indeed be cast in the dark, with the glorious history of the Weimar Republic hanging over your head already.

And what happens if, at the close of the decade, by some sudden lack of a coffee break, Lieberman actually does get indicted? Given that Netanyahu’s coalition consists of no less than 6 parties, you’ve got the equivalent of a pack of hungry wolves converging on the steak that is his position as foreign minister. Given the fact that Lieberman can barely speak English, there are probably some more qualified people that may lay claim to the post, and make some new threats of their own about government stability for the 31st Israeli government in 61 years of statehood.

I’d recommend, for now, that the government take a daily intake of fiber to keep it regular, but I’m not sure that will *cough* work.

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