a different side of Israel

Tag: Omri Sharon

Political Rogue’s Gallery 2007-2008

Israeli politicians appear to be more and more under investigation for a variety of offenses these days. While some activities fall under what might be considered as misdemeanors, others are outright criminal; and should any of the perpetrators be tried and convicted, they could not only be out of politics forever but could face periods of time in prison too.

Corrupt Israeli PoliticansMany of the pictured individuals are either government cabinet or former cabinet officials, including Shas Party MK Shlomo Benizri, who may wind up following his former party boss Aryeh Deri, who spent 2 years in the slammer for a number of criminal activities, including bribery, and misappropriation of government funds for his own purposes. Benizri himself was recently convicted for charges dealing with corruption. Another prominent member, Kadima Party member and present chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Tzahi Hanegbi, has been under indictment for a number of offenses, such as bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Some of these charges go back to when Hanegbi was Justice Minister under the Natanyahu government.

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel Beitanu Party chairman and former cabinet minister in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government, has been under suspicion for years on a number of offenses, including some questionable business interests connected to a travel company that his daughter presently runs. Another (former) cabinet minister, Avraham Hirchson, served as Finance Minister until it was discovered that he was outright involved in taking government funds to help his son who had gotten himself in trouble over large gambling debts. Hirchson was a close crony to P.M. Olmert, who is said to be responsible for Hirchson receiving the said cabinet post. If convicted, Hirshson could face a lengthily prison term, as well as a substantial fine.

But perhaps the most noted member of this political “rogues gallery” is none other than Prime Minister Olmert himself. The Prime Minister, with the aid of his legal advisors and even Attorney General Meny Mazuz, has been able to steer his way through avirtual maize of “legal challenges” ranging from some property he purchased in Jerusalem using inside information, to violation of public trust concerning what is now being referred as the “Bank Leumi Affair”. Olmert has let off the hook by Mazuz in this incidence but many people outside his own political party are still talking about this affair which was often on the news in 2007. Olmert is also alleged to be involved in granting approved industry status to a company his law partner, Uri Messer, was involved with, saving the company more than $11 million in taxes.

One guy who got left out of this photo clip is former Likud and Kadima M.K. Omri Sharon, who was convicted of misuse of party funds when his father, Arik Shahon was running for election as Prime Minister in 2000/01. Omri was convicted and sentenced to 7 months in prison, which he began serving in February, 2008.

There are of course other political notables who have been involved recently in questionable activities; but the ones included here are some of the most prominent. All in all, the year 2007 was a very “interesting” year in so far as political hanky panky goes.

Omri On His Way to Jail

Omri SharonOmri Sharon, Airik Sharon’s elder son and former Likud Party Knesset member, lost out on his latest appeal of what is now going to be a 7 month term in the hoosegow for campaign funds manipulation and other similar crimes. Sharon, who has tried to prevent his incarceration by claiming he is constantly at the bedside of his still comatose father, will be allowed two visits to his father per week during the sentence which is now slated to begin on February 27.

In addition to the prison sentence, Sharon also has to pay a N.S. 300,000 fine, equivalent to around $65,000.

During his father’s last re-election campaign, Omri is alleged to have received illegal campaign contributions on behalf of this father which were used in a manner not allowed under Israeli political campaign rules. Omri was also involved in other questionable activities which may also have gone back to the so-called “Greek Island Affair” in which his brother, Gilad was said to have been involved in concerning the purchase of a couple of small Greek islands for use as tourism resorts catering to Israeli holiday makers.

Omri was said to have used monies for paying off people involved in acts of political favoritism as well, and some of these activities were even recorded by hidden TV cameras and used on local reality TV shows covering crime investigations.

Ariel Sharon is still languishing in a vegetative state where he has been for more than two years. Nearly 80, it is highly unlikely that he will ever regain consciousness and his present state has helped keep Omri from meeting his prison sentence date. Omri did succeed in having his sentence reduced by two months, which makes his sentence only slightly longer than American cooking show host Martha Stewart had when she served five months for inside stock trading.

Omri will probably not be thrown in with super hardened criminals, and will most likely be sent to a minimum security facility to serve
his sentence, similar to what happened to another former politician, Arieh Deryeh. Recent Video clips of Omri show that he has grown hair again on his once bald head, a possible indication that he fears what might happen to him in prison if he looks too much like a “pretty boy” to fellow inmates, especially those with “one gender orientation”. Seven months isn’t the end of the world, although with a prison record, Omri’s possible return to politics will be a bit doubtful. He can spend most of his time at the Sharon Ranch, taking care of his father’s sheep and cattle, and even venture into some private business dealings, where his particular expertise in wheeler dealing will be appreciated.

Atonement: Who Needs it Most?

Two nights ago ushered in the Jewish Day of Atonement, otherwise known as Yom Kippur. This the last High Holiday of the period that Jews refer to as the Ten Days of Penitence in which Man’s fate for the coming year is sealed by God. Judging from events which have occurred during the year of 5766, and especially in regards to events in Israel, now containing the largest Jewish population in the world, a number of notable figures have much to atone for. For sake of brevity, the most notable ones will be mentioned here:

1. Kobi Alexander: Former head of Comverse Technologies Ltd, who fled the country after being suspected of massive securities fraud in the manipulation of his company’s shares. He has recently captured in Namibia, and is how awaiting extradition hearings and subsequent return to Israel to face charges.

2. Moshe Katsav: Israel’s President now under investigation for several instances of sexual miss-conduct and harassment. News articles occurring almost daily, revolve around Mr. Katzav alleged philandering, especially involving a somewhat comely young lady known as “A.”

3. Ofer Glazer: another sexual ‘misconductor’ who is married to Israeli heiress and billionaire Shari Arison. Glazer is expected to begin serving a six month prison sentence for making advances towards his wife’s hired nurse. Needless to say the affair has been a bit embarrassing for Shari.

4. Dan Halutz: Israeli Army Chief of Staff who is being blamed by many, particularly IDF reserve soldiers to not managing the Israeli Armed Forces properly during the 34 day conflict in July and August. According to Danny; he’s right and everyone else is wrong. Maybe there’s some truth in this.

5. Omri Sharon: Ariel Sharon’s eldest son and also in trouble with the Law over alleged misuse of campaign funds for his father’s re-election bid in 2003. Omri may also have to serve some time in jail, currently delayed due to the state of his father’s health.

6. Haim Ramon: another ‘romanticist’ and former Justice Minister, who resigned his post over charges of sexual misconduct. It appears that this offense is most popular of all these personalities.

7. Zeeve Rosenstein: That underworld character who was recently extradited to the USA due to charges of drug smuggling into that country. Mr. Rosenstein has also has numerous attempts made on his life, one of them resulting in the deaths of 3 innocent bystanders. Good riddance!

8. Ehud Olmert: Present Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Olmert believes that Israel won the recent war in Lebanon and also feels that he is doing an excellent job running things in Israel. Not everyone agrees. He is also being investigated to making undue profits on some real estate he purchased during his tenure as Mayor of Jerusalem; smacking of conflict of interest. Olmert also believes that the USA will solve the Iranian problem for him – perhaps his greatest sin.

and the list goes on … who else will join it this upcoming year ?

Election Fever

by Liza Farachdel

Three weeks away from the elections, and I haven’t a clue yet as to who will get my vote. First of all, given the recent game of musical parties (similar to musical chairs, except that when the music stops, you’ve got to join whichever party you happen to be closest to; strangely, the maturity level of the players is very similar to the maturity level of those who play the actual musical chairs game), I can’t keep track of which politicians are in which parties.

With politicians switching alliances more frequently than I change clothes (does that say more about them or more about me? Never mind, don’t answer that…), it’s impossible to know what any of them truly believe, which, unsurprisingly, directly affects my ability to actually believe anything they say.

What makes these elections more interesting, though, are the repercussions that recent Palestinian elections will have on the various party platforms. Parties that previously advocated peace talks as a primary feature on their agenda are being forced to search for different issues on which to focus, given that negotiating with Hamas is not really seen as a big vote-getter these days. As such, security continues to be an important issue, especially now that an organization advocating Israel’s destruction has become the major player in the Palestinian political scene. Welfare and economic issues are also featuring prominently, with each of the main parties scrambling to get its message across that only their party can save the economy and the country.
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Omri Sharon gets 9 month jail term

Omri Sharon, Ariel Sharon’s son was just sentenced to 9 months in prison. The court also sentenced him to 9 months on probation and a 300,000 fine. His sentence to run in 6 months due to his father’s condition. Omri Sharon pleaded guilty to charges of lying and illegal political financing. The judge in her summary of the case said “that admiration of ones father doesn’t make everything kosher”. Omri’s legal consel said they are likely to appeal the sentencing.

The Cancer in Israeli Politics – Central Committee Politics

In Israel there is a common term when discussing third world, underdeveloped corrupt countries – A Banana Republic (no offence meant to any would be banana lovers). When there is a discussion on the absurdity of some of the things we see and hear in the news, we end it with “this is why we are a banana republic”.

Part of the reason that the Likud party is falling apart today is probably based on the weak foundation that it has come to rely on in these recent years. Not that any of the current political players minded, they were just too busy playing the game to their advantage to mind. They saw the corruption and criminal behavior around them, enjoyed the spoils and it was all good. Well folks, the party is over – Literally !

The Central Committee in the Likud is the body that actually runs the Likud, electing the Members of Knesset from within the group that is considered the core of the Likud. Over the years the membership of the Central Committee expanded and it became clear the a position in the club meant perks. Stronger members became power lords and wealthy gangsters called the shots and had the power to raise and drop a political candidate.

Neomi Blumental Bribing the Central Committee These sort of wheeling and dealings with political votes became so blatant in the 2003 Primaries (Internal Likud Elections) that some politicians like Neomi Blumental in the City Tower Scandal were caught exposed. Neomi was caught buying 15 Central Committee members and their wives a night at the City Tower Hotel and paying for it in cash (using her ministry driver who later turned government witness) in return for a promise of support in the coming primaries. It got to the point in those elections that one of these power lords actually had his young niece elected to the Knesset, just because he had the clout to spare. She had no idea how and why but she became a Member of Knesset.

Following these obvious scandals Sharon promised to make a change, clean house and suggested a change to the election process. The Primaries Law was for political parties with more then 15 seats in the Knesset. The new law was to insure that primaries in the big parties will be expanded to include all party members voting and not be decided on by Central Committee members.

Sharon’s proposal wasn’t well received by the Central Committee and a Likud party law was passed that stipulated that any Members of Knesset (MK) that votes in support of the Primaries Law will not be able to run for Knesset again as a Likud party member. This outright spelled out that the Central Committee will punish any Likud MK that tried to take away its power.

The Primaries Law wasn’t followed up by Sharon (after all Omri Sharon was also one of the winners from the Central Committee System) and once the public eye was away the idea was placed in the political freezer.

In April 2005 the Israeli Supreme Court warned the Likud Party legal counsel that the constitution of the Likud is unlawful. The Likud court decided that the law was constitutional but made an amendment – The MK voting against the Central Committee will have a chance for appeal !

This law is STILL in effect.

This is what one would describe as a Banana Republic type scenario !

Omri Sharon pleads guilty

Omri SharonOmri Sharon managed his father Ariel Sharon’s campaign in 1999. He was charged in 2001 following an article in Yediot Ahronot newspaper. He was accused of using fictitious companies to disburse NIS 6 million ($1.3 Million) for his father’s campaign breaking the Party Rules that controls the amount of money used for political campaigns from a single source.

After countless hours and 3 years of investigating Omri agreed to plead guilty to providing false testimony and falsifying documents and is now facing sentencing. Omri is 41, a single father of 3 and a member of the Israeli Parliament. His father has always denied any knowledge of his son’s actions. Sentencing has been postponed for a later unspecified date.

Great! I guess leading by example is out of the question…

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