Saturday, April 28

Corruption in High Places

Israel is very much at the crossroads with its present government. After the March 2006 Israeli Elections, the government coalition promised the Israeli people clean government and a movement towards peace with the Palestinians and the neighbouring Arab countries. Both promises are far from fruition and the corruption scandals are surfacing like mushrooms. Every day there is a new corruption surprise. The previous Likud affiliated cartels that were running the country lost the elections. The rot set in from the president downwards. Even the Income Tax Authority was not immune from this. Jackie Matza, the directorof the Income Tax Authority had to resign because of investigations of bribery and corruption against him and his team. This included a very senior member of the Prime Minister’s Office staff, Shula Zaken, who was also part of the cartel receiving various kick backs. The list seems endless. Even the Finance Minister, Avraham Hirschson suspended himself because of strong suspicions of corruption as reported in the Jerusalem Post 23rd April 2007.

PM Ehud Olmert is also under suspicion of irregularities as asserted by the state comptroller, Micha Lindenstraus, The Attorney-General, Meni Mazuz, ruled that Olmert can hold the finance portfolio for a limited period of time because of these suspicions. However, he did not state the length of the “limited period of time”.

There seems to be a lapse of memory in the public who forget that many of the current Kadima MKs was members of the Likud. This was the period when most of these irregularities occurred. It is as if their change of party loyalties from Likud to Kadima would cleanse them of their shady activities and make them as pure as driven snow. A leopard never changes his spots even when he changes his political party.

How can these elected legislators promise clean government when they are stained by corrupt activities of the previous government of which they formed an integral part? Those who are to blame for this situation is the shortsightedness of the Israeli electorate who voted these dubious characters into power. These reputation stained pseudo-legislators are destroying the instruments of good, clean government. The damage that they do to Israel’s credibility is far greater than the anti-Israel forces beyond its borders. It cripples the government decision making process and this includes negotiations for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict which ought to take top priority.

The legislators call themselves Zionists and claim that they are interested in the welfare of Israel and its people. How laughable! How hypocritical! They are interested in feathering their own nests and the interests (mostly financial) of their affiliated cartels, even if it is by corruption and deviousness! This is the behaviour of a banana republic, but not a modern democratic state priding itself with ruling in accordance with the law. Important issues such as peace negotiations with the Arab world, including the Palestinians, have been placed on the backburner while the legislators fall foul of the law and seek expensive elitist lawyers to bail them out to save their blemished reputations. What about the Saudi Initiative for peace? This is the first time in the history of the State of Israel that an important Arab state has put forth a reasonable plan for negotiation and full recognition of Israel only to have it scuttled by a corruption tainted Israeli leadership who has rendered itself impotent by its own folly and dishonesty with the electorate whom it claims to represent.

Zionism is being replaced by the cancer of corruption. It is polluting Israeli society and fracturing it even further. If Israel’s citizens find it hard to believe their elected Knesset members, how can we expect the Palestinians to believe agreements that they sign with Israel’s dubious leaders?

Is there a country in the democratic world where the prime minister condemns the state comptroller for uncovering irregularities in his personal business affairs involving public money? These misdemeanors (or worse still, suspected criminal activities) have been brought to public notice by the press.

The prime minister or cabinet minister, because of his position, must be transparent in his dealings with public funds or tax payer’s money. This is the price to be paid for these senior positions. The president’s sexual harassment charges, including the rape suspicions, are a reflection of poor judgment of the party political hacks that nominated him for that honored position in the first place.

It looks as if we are entering the post-Zionistic period. This means the replacement of Zionism with a heartless materialism whereby the poor get poorer and the rich get richer as Israel’s wealthy members of society continues the race for gaining influence in the shady governmental echelons of power and corruption. This is the scramble for cartel membership at its worst (protektsia). It is a danger for the future of human rights and democracy. It lays the field open for oligarchs like Arkady Gaidemak to give massive humanitarian donations to various causes for the unfortunate replacing the government’s responsibility for the welfare of the poor. He buys their support to give him a Knesset seat in the next elections despite his denials to the contrary.

Prime Minister Olmert fiddles while Jerusalem burns. Attack of the state comptroller for doing his job efficiently is the best form of defense. This should be red light warning to the public. Could this mean that there is a prime ministerial cover-up of dubious legal business activities or maybe even criminal activity? Surely the state comptroller should be praised for exposing that rather than being maligned by the prime minister.

The government’s credibility is on the line and should resign.

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