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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

The West’s New Syrian War

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

One day people will ask how the United States and several European countries became involved in mass killings, genocide, corruption, arms smuggling, and the creation of another anti-Western and regionally destabilizing government. Even if a single Western soldier is never sent, the West is on the verge of serious intervention in Syria. The choices are unpalatable and decisions are very tough to make but it appears to be still another in a long history of Western leaps in the dark, not based on a real consideration of the consequences.

At least people should be more aware of the dangers. As I entitled a previous book on Iran (Paved with Good Intentions), the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. People are dying and suffering in Syria. That’s true. But will this make more people or fewer people die and suffer?

So now we are seeing the trial balloons rise. As the Bashar al-Assad regime proves to be holding on—but not recapturing the country or winning the war—the West is panicked into sending aid to the rebels.  In fact, the government is merely holding the northwest area (where the ruling Alawite group lives), the region along the Lebanese border (with Hizbollah’s help), Damascus (where the best troops are based and there is a favorable strategic situation in the army holding the high ground), and part of Aleppo. It seems that U.S. decision makers are panicking over these relatively small gains. If the Syrian army plus Hizbollah tries to advance too far it will stretch its resources then and face a successful rebel counteroffensive.

Understandably, the opposition is demanding arms. If the opposition did not consist mostly of al-Qaida, the Salafists, and the Muslim Brotherhood, that would be a good idea perhaps. But since the opposition is overwhelmingly radical—even the official “moderate” opposition politicians are mostly Muslim Brotherhood—this is a tragedy in which the West does not have a great incentive to say “yes.”

President Barack Obama is said to be close to sending weapons to carefully chosen rebel units who are moderates. Now, pay close attention here. The Western options for giving assistance are:

The Syrian Islamic Liberation Front. This is Muslim Brotherhood type people including, most importantly, the Farouk Brigades from the Homs area and Aleppo’s Tawhid Brigade. Around 50-60,000 fighters in total who are autonomous.

Do you want to give arms to them? Weapons that might soon end up in the hands of (other) terrorists? Weapons to be turned against not only Israel, but Jordan, Saudi Arabia, U.S. diplomats, and who knows who else?

Or perhaps you like the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), an alliance of more hardline Islamist forces, including Ahrar al-Sham from the north.  Ahrar al-Sham is probably around 15,000 fighters. The SIF as a whole probably around 25,000.   These people are Salafists meaning that the Brotherhood is too moderate for them. They are the kind of people who attack churches in Egypt, who want to wage jihad alongside Hamas, and so on.

Do you want to arm them so they can establish another Sharia state?

How about Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda franchise with around 6,000 fighters and reportedly the fastest growing militia.

Want to give guns to those who committed the September 11, 2001, attacks and the Benghazi attack? Of course not! You want the Free Syrian Army (FSA), headed by the untested General Salim Idris, who Senator John McCain met with. Now those are moderates who, after all, are just led by former officers in the repressive, historically anti-American Syrian army. And the FSA is just not a serious factor in military terms.

The West will say it supports the FSA; the FSA will be pushed aside by an Islamist regime if it wins, its Western-supplied weapons seized even during the course of the war. Moderates–even if we define radical Arab nationalists as moderates–don’t have the troops on the ground. It’s too late to organize and train a moderate force now. That should have been done two years ago.

On the political level, U.S. pressure failed to force the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated exile leadership to add the real political moderates! Even as financial aid is being (temporarily?) withheld the “official” opposition won’t expand its base. How about withholding all money and aid until they yield or choosing a new official leadership?  If the United States can’t stop–or doesn’t want to–the Brotherhood from dominating an exile leadership how is it ever going to do after a victory in the civil war?

Knesset Member Peretz Suspected of Vote-Buying

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Two Knesset Members from the last Knesset’s Labor party were involved in vote-buying in the party’s 2012 primaries, according to Yediot Acharonot. Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich named one of them as Amir Peretz, who ditched Labor to run with Tzipi Livni’s party in the January general elections.

She told Army Radio Tuesday that she knows that one of those being probed by police is Peretz, and the Labor party issued a statement condemning vote buying. The other suspect, currently as Labor MK, was not named.

Peretz vehemently denied the accusations, called them libel and characterized Yechimovich as a bad person.

Last week, police said they are investigating similar charges against Knesset Member Nissim Slomiansky of the Jewish Home party. Party chairman Naftali Bennett suspected him of vote-buying because of his stunning victory in the recent election even though he was not supported by Bennett.

Today: Avigdor Liberman on Trial, Key Witness—his Deputy

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

The case of the State of Israel vs. Avigdor Liberman is bound to divert attention on Sunday from the coalition negotiations and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s three-week long and counting attempts to form a government, to the Magistrate Court in Jerusalem, where former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s trial is opening.

After years of cat and mouse play between the burly politician of Russian extraction whose capacity to make enemies among Israel’s political class is only matched by his ability—until recently—to exact blind loyalty from his minions, we’re finally going to be treated to a showdown, complete with all the elements of a good political drama: hatred, betrayal, fear, and specks of corruption.

Liberman, the unquestioned leader of Israel Beitenu, a party made up and supported mostly by Russian immigrants (except for the man in the number two spot, Yair Shamir, who stands to gain a lot from his leader’s downfall, should one take place) is being charged with fraud and a breach of trust concerning the nomination of Ze’ev Ben Aryeh as Israel’s ambassador to Latvia.

According to Ma’ariv, sources inside the legal system are talking about marathon discussions and a quick decision—within just a few months—but there is no guarantee that it would be a quick trial. Which means that Liberman will have to stay out of government, while his rightful possession—in his eyes, at least—the Foreign Office, is deposited with either the prime minister or with a coalition partner who would be willing to give it up, should Liberman be acquitted, or is found guilty of minor charges that won’t stand between him and a return to government.

The trial will open at two o’clock Israel time (7 AM in New York). Liberman will sit down on the defendant’s seat and, after the indictment is read, the court is expected to determine the dates on which he would have to reappear at the same courtroom.

Liberman is accused of fraud and breach of trust during the appointment of the former ambassador to Belarus Ze’ev Ben Aryeh as ambassador to Latvia. The indictment states that Ben Aryeh was advanced in the Foreign Ministry after handing Liberman confidential information about the investigation that was being conducted against the minister in the major case against him, known as the “straw companies.”

The Attorney General eventually decided not to prosecute Liberman on that case (no one would talk to the investigators), but to limit the indictment to the simpler “ambassador” case, which is why it is estimated that the trial would end quickly. Especially since the defendant is just as eager to be done with it as the prosecution. On the other hand, if a plea bargain that would have permitted Liberman to proceed with his interrupted political career were on the table—it would have been signed by now. So no one can be certain just how long this thing will last. And remember the cardinal rule about lengthy trials – they tend to bring up new information that often spawns new trials.

The indictment states that Liberman promoted Ben Aryeh at the Foreign Ministry in two major roles: one as staff political advisor to the Foreign Minister, and the other as Ambassador to Latvia. Although it is a relatively light case, compared to the straw companies case—which has been closed without trial—should the judges decide to include a shame-inducing element (kalon) to Liberman’s sentence, it could be a mortal blow to his political future, with serious implications on the future of the Israel Beiteinu party.

A kalon sentence prevents the accused of returning to elected office for seven years.

The key witness is expected to be a member of the appointments committee that decided to designate Ben Aryeh as the ambassador to Latvia, Liberman’s former deputy Danny Ayalon. Originally, while things with his boss appeared good as good can be, and no clouds were hovering in the blue sky of their friendship, Ayalon could not for the life of him recall any attempt on Liberman’s part to influence the appointments process. But after his boss chose the moment of their ride in a car together to inform Ayalon he was off the list of viable candidates for the Knesset—on their way to the event where Liberman was to read the list to the press—Ayalon experienced a miraculous memory recovery, complete with all the details of how Liberman actually did influence the process, and how.

What the West is Funding: Palestinian Suppression of Free Speech

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

The Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -ed.] has come up with a new method to silence its Palestinian critics.

From now on, any Palestinian writer or journalist who dares to criticize Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his policies or demand an end to corruption will be accused of “belittling the dignity of the state.”

Since the beginning of this year, at least 10 Palestinian journalists, bloggers and political opponents have been detained by various Palestinian Authority security services for writing about corruption and criticizing the Palestinian leadership.

Until recently, the Palestinian Authority, which is funded by the U.S. and E.U., used to throw its critics into prison.

But following condemnations from Palestinian and international human rights organizations, the Palestinian Authority decided to resort to a new method to silence its critics – this time by accusing them of “belittling the dignity” of a non-existent Palestinian state.

This charge is based on a 1960 Jordanian law still effective in the West Bank. Although the Palestinian Authority has its own laws, to achieve its goals it does not hesitate every now and then to resort to Jordanian laws.

But as the case of Jihad Harb shows, Abbas and his aides are more concerned about their own dignity than that of the imaginary state.

Harb, a Palestinian writer and political analyst, was summoned this week for interrogation by the Palestinian security forces in Ramallah and charged, on the basis of the Jordanian law, with “belittling the dignity of the state.”

Harb was told that the director of Abbas’s office had lodged a complaint against him for libel and slander because of an article criticizing Abbas’s policy of promoting public employees.

Entitled “Presidential Decisions Are Made In A Coffee Shop,” Harb’s article criticized Abbas’s decision to promote more than 500 civil servants over the past five years — noting that many of them were unfit to serve in their jobs.

Before he was summoned for interrogation, Harb received threats from from top Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah that he would be punished for hanging the dirty laundry in public.

The officials told the writer that he may would face trial for criticizing Abbas at a time when the US and Israel are “waging a fierce campaign” against the Palestinian Authority president because of his insistence on pursuing his request for membership in the UN.

Harb said that the decision to summon him for questioning was in the context of the Palestinian Authority leadership’s campaign to intimidate Palestinian writers and journalists and stop them from discussing internal issues.

Harb added that the decision was also in violation of Abbas’s recent statement that the “sky was the limit for freedom of expression” in the West Bank.

Palestinian writers and human rights groups have, meanwhile, expressed deep concern over the Palestinian Authority’s crackdown on freedom of expression in the West Bank.

International human rights groups, however, and countries that fund and support Abbas’s authority have yet to sound their voices.

Many Palestinian writers and journalists in the West Bank today live in fear of being harassed by the Palestinian Authority because of their views and writings. Some practice self-censorship, while others are writing under different names or have found themselves new and less dangerous professions.

There is no reason why those who are pouring millions of dollars on the Palestinian Authority should not demand an end to suppression of freedom of expression and the growing clampdown on writers and journalists in the West Bank.

Failing to hold the Palestinian Authority accountable for its actions will only drive more Palestinians into the arms of Hamas and the other radical forces.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Gaddafi’s Son’s Israeli Lover Pleads For His Life

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Israeli actress Orly Weinerman reportedly has urged Tony Blair to help save the life of her “discreet” lover, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. On Monday, Weinerman posted on her Facebook page in Hebrew, “for a long time I have had trouble falling asleep at night, revealing my anxiety among good friends and between the living room walls. But now, with injustice displayed proudly on the world stage, I call for you to lend me a hand and prevent another victim of hatred, prejudice and moral corruption. Orly.”

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the late ruler of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, is facing the death penalty in Libya, where he is on trial for his role in the killing of protesters during last year’s uprising against his father. Weinerman’s parents were opposed to her converting to Islam, she said. But apparently that didn’t stop Orly and Saif from pursuing love: “The fact that Saif was prepared to involve himself in a loving relationship with a Jew is a measure of how open and civilized he is,” she told one tabloid. “He judged people for what they are, not what people perceive them to be. Saif never made an issue of my religion or the country I came from.”

BBC quoted Libyan officials Monday that Gaddafi’s trial was being postponed to a date still unknown.

Surrender Corrupts the Soul of Israel

Friday, September 7th, 2012

This morning, a friend sent me an article by Leonard Fein called “Occupation Corrupts Soul of Israel.”

Fein writes,

Hakibush mashchit — The occupation corrupts.

And so, plainly, it does. But so what? However inadvertent the origins, the poison fruit is today fully ripe. To understand that, it is not sufficient to call attention to the horrific attack in Zion Square the other night, the attack by a mob that threatened the life of Jamal Julani, or even to add to it the firebombing hours earlier of a taxi near Gush Etzion in which six Palestinians, two of them children, were wounded.

He goes on to talk about “settler violence,” the complicity of the authorities (if you ask the ‘settlers’, they will tell you that the authorities in fact protect the Arabs), price tag vandalism, etc.

Is this the “poison fruit” of ‘occupation’?

Or is it simply that some Jews have — after decades of murder, vandalism, no-go zones in Israel’s capital and other places, stonings, lynchings, etc. — learned to act like Arabs?

Did the poison come from Jews living in their historic homeland, or from the Arabs who hate them?

The Left’s solution is to end the ‘occupation’, to withdraw from Judea, Samaria, the Golan, and eastern Jerusalem. In short, give them what they want and everything will be fine. Of course “what they want” is not limited to the territories, and surrendering them will just send the message that we are too weak to resist, and they will redouble their efforts to obtain the rest.

I responded to my friend that if ‘occupation’ corrupts the soul, then withdrawal, with its concomitant rocket attacks and terrorism might well corrupt the body in a very physical way.

But in addition to the security issues, there is something still more important, which is well-understood by the Arabs, if not by the Leonard Feins. Here is a 2009 remark by PLO official Abbas Zaki, which explains it well:

With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made – just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward.

Fein is wrong. The corruption of the Jewish soul did not begin in 1967. It began with the adoption of the idea that surrender is pro-Israel, with — as Fein mentions — the birth of Peace Now and the national self-flagellation that followed the Sabra and Shatilla massacres (in which Arabs behaved like Arabs), and culminated in the suicidal decision to allow Arafat and the PLO to return from exile in 1993. Today, it’s fed by a huge influx of money from the European antisemites who support the anti-state NGOs in Israel that are all that’s left of the Left.

It isn’t ‘occupation’ that corrupts — it’s surrender.

Visit FresnoZionism.org.

Olmert Acquitted Of Major Charges

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

JERUSALEM – A panel of three Jerusalem regional court judges acquitted former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday of all corruption charges in the Rishon Tours and Moshe Talansky matters. The judges, though, found him guilty of breach of trust in the Investment Center affair, which took place during Olmert’s tenure as minister of industry, trade and labor nearly a decade ago.

The state prosecutor had charged Olmert with fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate records, double billing, tax evasion and accepting bribes in the Rishon Tours and Talansky affairs nearly four years ago. During the course of the long legal battle, Talansky, a Long Island financier who co-founded the New Jerusalem Fund with Olmert, alleged in court that Olmert requested cash for various purposes. If the court had rendered a guilty verdict on the fraud charges, each charge would have carried a minimum jail term of three years. The breach of trust guilty verdict does not carry an automatic jail sentence, as the penalty is determined by judicial discretion.

Despite Olmert’s acquittals, the judges declared that the former prime minister’s former bureau chief, Shula Zaken, was guilty of two counts of fraud and breach of trust in the Rishon Tours case. Her conviction, which will almost certainly be challenged by her legal team, carries a minimum prison term of three years.

A cadre of legal experts and media commentators expressed surprise at the verdict on Olmert, especially in the Rishon Tours double-billing case whereby several witnesses maintained that both Olmert and Zaken were aware of double billing major Jewish organizations – and even orchestrated the action.

After the verdicts were handed down, the legal experts publicly questioned how Zaken, who was in constant daily contact with Olmert throughout most of his political career and updated him on all matters, could be found guilty while Olmert could emerge virtually unscathed.

Other legal pundits are arguing that Zaken is taking the fall for Olmert, despite the fact that she was allegedly offered immunity from prosecution had she turned state’s witness against her former boss. MK Dalia Itzik, a former political ally of Olmert’s during his tenure as prime minister and head of the Kadima Party, blasted State Attorney Moshe Lador. “This is one of the most severe legal earthquakes to ever hit Israel. It’s difficult to understand how supposedly rock-solid cases, which forced Olmert from office, collapsed. It’s absurd,” she said.

While expressing dismay with Zaken’s conviction, Olmert was ecstatic with his not guilty verdict on the corruption charges. “I knew I would be vindicated. There was no corruption or envelopes with money,” he told a horde of Israeli and foreign reporters at the Jerusalem courthouse. “This won’t be the last time you will be hearing from me.”

Olmert and Zaken’s legal battles, however, are far from over. Tuesday’s legal drama comes at the same time that Olmert, Zaken and former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski are being accused by the state prosecution’s main witness, a controversial businessman with a checkered reputation, as being central players in the so-called Holyland Affair. The Holyland trial is expected to last several months, with a verdict not expected until either later this year or early next year.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/olmert-acquitted-of-major-charges/2012/07/11/

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