Haaretz Service & Reuven Schossen / www.schossen.com – 2006-09-06 21:57:43
Officials Said Fearing Wave of War Crimes Suits over Lebanon
TEL AVIV (September 4, 2006) — The Foreign Ministry fears a wave of lawsuits accusing Israeli military and governmental officials of war crimes, Army Radio said Monday, adding that a report prepared by the ministry’s chief legal advisor warns officials against inflammatory statements in connection with the recent war, saying that their words could later be used against them in foreign lawsuits or indictments for alleging them to be war criminals.
In the past, a number of IDF generals have deferred visits to Europe, for fear of arrest over allegations of war crimes in connection with the Intifada.
Cabinet Minister Yitzhak Herzog, currently traveling in Finland, said Monday that international conventions granted government officials immunity from prosecution, but that the problem was “much more complicated” with respect to IDF officers, especially retired officers.
“There is no question that there is an effort by organizations of various kinds to harm, in particular, [IDF] officers and commanders. This certainly doesn’t touch the governmental echelon, but this takes nothing away from the seriousness of the problem.”
According to Herzog, after the Intifada, Israel approved “an envelope of legal defense to senior officials and officers, and I believe that the outline that the Foreign Ministry is proposing for many of these issues, is a correct one.”
Cabinet minister Eli Yishai and former justice minister Haim Ramon are among those who have been mentioned as having made especially harsh statements in wartime, during which Israeli ministers were quoted as having advocated “taking down” villages which served as shelters for Hezbollah.
Legal authority Yael Ronen said Monday that some officers or government officials who traveled to Europe stood the risk of being arrested.
“In connection with war criminals, international law holds that due to the severity of the charges, nations may bring the accused to trial, no matter where the crimes were committed, nor against whom,” she told the radio.
Herzog said he had spoken with Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz on the issue during the war. “He stated that the army was taking all of this under consideration, and was acting according to the rules, and had certainly internalized this consideration in its actions.”
Israeli Leaders: Literally Criminals
Reuven Schossen / www.schossen.com
SANTA FE (August 30, 2006) — The first thing people think whenever I tell them that the government of Israel is criminal, is that I am referring to its violations of Human Rights. In a sense they are correct, the Israeli government is proud to ignore basic rights — it has even passed legislation specifically enabling it to do so. In my writings and talks, it’s true, I am usually referring to that aspect of Israeli institutionalized corruption.
However, another — and darker side — exists. The governments of Israel are criminal because criminals rule it, literally. It’s not I alone who makes this claim; it’s not even some antisemitic, conspirational, radical, fanatical, underground website. The Israeli justice system itself keeps finding its politicians guilty.
Omri Sharon — Ariel Sharon’s son and a former nepotistic member of parliament — became the first Israeli politician to be sentenced to jail due to his methods of getting donations for his father’s campaign. Ariel Sharon claimed he knew nothing about it.
Ariel Sharon himself was found guilty by the Lebanon War Investigating Committee in Israel; guilty of not preventing the Sabra and Shatila atrocities in Lebanon and was banned for life from serving as the Minister of Defense.
Shalom Hanoch — a popular Israeli rock star — sang a prophetic song in the early 80s entitled “He Doesn’t Stop at the Red Lights,” where he claimed that those who did not want Sharon as minister of defense would unfortunately end up with him as prime minister.
The Israeli newspaper world is run by three families. An extensive analysis of their priorities would be fascinating, but here I’ll mention only that the owners of Maariv are the Nimrodi family. Of Iranian origin, they made their fortune selling weapons. The son held the position of editor-in-chief while still in jail for having contracted a murder.
With these two examples it is possible to understand the problematic relationship between politicians and the media in Israel. In Hebrew there is a saying: “Keep for me and I’ll keep for you,” and its subtext clearly hints at an infinity of corruption when these two establishments work together in an organized fashion.
There are more examples. Recently, the Minister of Justice — Haim Ramon — was obliged to resign after being charged with sexually harassing a government employee.
Ehud Olmert — the Prime Minister — is currently being investigated for an illegal real estate transaction, an especially sensitive topic in Israel.
The Israeli President — Moshe Katsav (his last name means Butcher) — who refused to meet Reform Jewish leaders on his last visit to the USA — also faces charges of sexually harassing an employee. The list of criminal acts by Israeli leaders from most parties is incredibly long and varied.
Some things seem to be legal only if you look at the fine print of the law with dark glasses. Dan Halutz, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, called his broker and told him to sell his whole portfolio minutes after he gave the instruction to invade Lebanon, avoiding the 8% fall of the Israeli Stock Market.
The biggest bank in the country, Bank Hapoalim, was privatized in the late nineties. All Israeli banks were nationalized in the early eighties after the collapse of the inflated stock market, which especially involved the banks’ shares. Their price increase was caused by the bankers’ policy of pushing their own shares to their customers under the false promise of steady, constant growth.
Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi were so successful at this strategy that both entered, for a short period, the list of the one hundred biggest companies in the world. But when they couldn’t demonstrate the promised growth, they collapsed. Many people lost their savings and were never compensated by the new bank owner: the state.
Governments aren’t natural bank owners and many problems inherent to the situation arose. Under state ownership, one bank’s general manager was earning around $50,000 a month, while the minimum Israeli wages were just $800 a month. In fact, most Israelis earned approximately that amount. Even the Prime Minister earned less than his loyal banker.
More than a decade later, the government decided to begin a slow re-privatization process, in part to avoid the need to explain such injustice. The first bank chosen for privatisation was Bank Hapoalim. However, the bidding wasn’t open to the general public who were the original shareholders; the bank was offered to just a few people.
The winning bidder was Ted Arison, an American dual-national multimillionaire invited to take part for unknown reasons — purportedly as thanks for his services to the Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence agency.
He designed an outrageous circular deal, which was approved by the state. He took a loan from the second biggest bank, Bank Leumi to buy Bank Hapoalim, promising to return the loan with the help of dividends he would pay himself after taking control of Bank Hapoalim. Despite the fact that he was already a multimillionaire investor, the state loaned him the money to buy the bank from itself and cannot claim innocence in such an organized criminal act.
Every citizen should ask why he wasn’t given such a fantastic offer, because Arison used state money exclusively for the purchase.
Years later, in 2005, the same bank, Bank Hapoalim was discovered to be involved in the massive laundering of Russian-Israeli mafia money. The case is still in the Israeli courts.
It seems that in the eyes of the Israeli oligarchy, the best solution for covering up a crime is to perpetrate a new one as a coverup.
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