Sunday, February 23

Religious Corruption in Israel

The deification of many establishment rabbis in high places is frightening. Added to this, are the large sums of money that is involved in this relationship. Recently the Israeli tycoon, Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto has been involved in a very big scandal. He is listed as one of Israel`s richest rabbis.  Tycoons have always come to him for blessings and while receiving Pinto’s blessings, large sums of money probably land in his coffers.

The plot thickens and the list of suspects involved in the Pinto Affair gets more and more complicated. The cartel of those involved in misdemeanors or even crimes range from tycoons, businessmen, underworld figures, and some Knesset members, senior police officers involved in uncovering fraud, bribery, and corruption, money laundering and other crimes.

The belief in "Yehudo-Voodoo" among many Israelis is very strong, this is the stuff giving rabbinical charlatans enormous power, and this power creeps, like a cancer, into many business dealings. Bribery, corruption and blackmail are part of their trade. Large sums of money change hands. Some rabbis become very wealthy, and when questions are asked about the source of their wealth the answer inevitably is that "it comes from donations of supporters of these rabbis, who regard them as the ultimate spiritual authority in their lives". This somehow keeps the law enforcement authorities at bay for a while.

However, when rabbis start giving money to the "poor" such as high level police officers, who are responsible for inquiries into bribery and corruption, then it is reasonable to start asking questions as to whether the rabbi's relationship with law enforcement officers is proper.                                                             

At this stage, there is a lot of cloudiness over the whole investigation and much has to unfold. Pinto has tentacles with followers attached even in the U.S. Even an ex-FBI official is involved. This is only the beginning of all kinds of rabbinical monkey business going on, which is also an embarrassment to the Israeli Police. One of its top crime investigation officers is also on suspicion of being caught up in this rabbinical web of iniquity. It seems that the tip of the iceberg of crime in rabbinical circles has been scratched. More red faces under the cloak and dagger of Torah will soon be revealed. It should be of deep concern to law-abiding citizens in Israel, who pay taxes. Much of the money from these taxes go to the running of corrupt institutions responsible for maintaining the chief rabbinate and other yeshivot of dubious repute.

Meanwhile, Major General Menashe Arviv, who commanded Lahav 433, a unit popularly known as the "Israeli FBI," which includes the fraud squad, serious and international crimes unit, and the financial investigations unit, has resigned as the noose round his neck tightens. This does not mean that he will not be brought to trial.  Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha – the commander of the national fraud squad – in 2012 was also involved. Pinto is suspected of trying to bribe Bracha in return for information on the investigation being conducted against him. Pinto was also the target of a joint investigation by the authorities in the United States and Israel, into the suspected misuse of funds at Hazon Yeshaya, a nonprofit controlled by the rabbi and his wife.

This rather complicated business does not seem to have an end at this stage. Surprises occur all the time. Apart from suspicions of bribing senior police officers and associating with crime king-pins like Shlomo Domrani, Pinto has an amazing cartel of tycoons and characters.Some of his associates and "friends" have criminal records.One of Pinto's aides in the past, Ben Zion Suky, is connected to porn sales and has a host of legal problems. The impression is that Rabbi Pinto is not such a "tzadik" (saint) as most of his followers believe. Pinto is a shrewd businessman. He is a multimillionaire because "God was good to him as he is a great example of humility and saintliness". I have a feeling of deja vu. There is some similarity here to the reaction of his followers against the investigation of this rabbi and the reaction of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in the bribery and corruption case involving Aryeh Deri of Shas some years ago.Yosef proclaimed Deri's innocence in public.

Prosecutors are now busy turning the 10-page document detailing these suspicions into an indictment, as Pinto waived his right to a hearing. The likely charges will include offering bribes, obstructing an investigation, suborning witnesses, making threats and money laundering. Pinto denies all the allegations.

The saga unfolds and is far from completion as everyday a new twist occurs. There is a dangerous trend in Israel. The Rabbi Pinto Case is an example of what happens when rabbis have tremendous power and influence over the lives of citizens in theocratic Israel. They fill the observant Jewish Israeli mind with religious muck and many of these religious people become dependent on the teachings and purveyors of pseudo-religious superstitions. This involves purchasing religious cameos against "the evil eye" and all kinds of folklore, including other pseudo-religious paraphernalia. There are rabbis with enormous powers in the eyes of the superstitious observant, who are grist to the mill in the talons of these charismatic, rabbinical ignoramuses, many of whom have great influence in high places in the rabbinate. These rabbis feel that they are above the law and have the right to bribe government officials whether they are high ranking officers in the Israeli Police Force or even in the government. They are the "Rasputins of Israel". Some are also faith healers such as the X-ray Rabbi Ifergan, who is wealthy in his own right.

Rabbi Yeshiyahu Pinto

The following is a list of Israel's wealthiest rabbis: 

1. Rabbi Pinchas Abuhatzeira – NIS 1,300,000,000
2. Rabbi David Abuhatzeira – NIS 750,000,000
3. Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter – NIS 350,000,000
4. Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokea
– NIS 180,000,000
5. Rabbi Nir Ben Artzi – NIS 100,000,000
6. Rabbi Yaakov Ifargin – NIS 75,000,000
7. Rabbi Yeshayahu Pinto – NIS 75,000,000
8. Rabbi Baruch Abuhatzeira – NIS 50,000,000
9. Rabbi Reuven Elbaz – NIS 40,000,000
10. Rabbi Yoram Abargil – NIS35,000,000

The corruption in religion occurs because of the monopoly held by establishment orthodox rabbis in Israel. They do not recognize other religious streams in Judaism. A glaring example of Orthodox Judicial hegemony is non-recognition of Conservative, Progressive and Reconstructionist streams in Judaism. These non-Orthodox streams in Judaism cannot perform marriage ceremonies recognized in Israel because they are not recognized by the Orthodox Establishment. The reason is competition and loss in financial profit that goes into the orthodox establishment rabbinical coffers and not so much because of Halacha as they claim. Let us not be naïve.

The doctrinaire and intolerant behavior of the Orthodox Rabbinical Establishment in Israel drives many Jews from the fold including the writer of this article.

The Rabbi Pinto corruption scandal is a symptom of the disease and it is only a matter of time before more corrupt orthodox rabbis are uncovered in their quest to make a quick buck from the religious believers seeking a sop for their problems.


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