Tuesday, 12 June 2012

America Pays for Netanyahu’s Luxury Trips

by Roy Tov
Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledges facts and defines them “legal”
Israel State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss
Israel State Comptroller
Micha Lindenstrauss
The affair known in Israel as “Bibi-Tours” is nearing its end. Netanyahu was formally interrogated in March; this was the final stage of the formal investigation. Now everything is ready for issuing a decision. Israel State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is expected to retire before October 2012, the date being subject to the nomination of his successor by the Knesset. Before retiring, he must issue a final report on the most important probe of his career. If he concludes that Netanyahu committed criminal offenses, he will pass his findings on to the Attorney General and Netanyahu may find himself facing criminal charges. This is bound to happen in August. In June, his report is already being prepared; Benjamin Netanyahu has already seen its draft. Netanyahu’s ominous silence announces an imminent storm.
Bibi-Tours“Bibi-Tours” is the name given to several luxury trips abroad that Benjamin Netanyahu and his family made in the last decade, during his terms as finance minister and opposition leader.

Netanyahu’s attorneys provided the comptroller’s office with documents, receipts and invoices related in a bid to prove that nothing improper was done; yet, even Netanyahu confirms the basic facts. These are very odd, to say the least. The events were first exposed by Raviv Drucker on Israel’s Channel 10; in 2011, Netanyahu filed against them a libel suit that is still underway. Following these minor fights, the comptroller decided to probe the funding for Netanyahu’s trips abroad, and his campaign in the Likud primary.

Drucker claimed that Netanyahu had accepted funding from private American businessmen for trips for himself and his family while in public office. In August 2006, during the Second Lebanon War, Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife, and one of their sons traveled to London on a trip funded by both the Knesset and Israel Bonds. Encouraged by their success, the following month they traveled to the USA, while the trip was fully paid by two different organizations. The comptroller added to these events the private campaign donations that Netanyahu received for the 2005 Likud Primaries; sadly, he had forgotten to report them to the state comptroller, as required by law.
Thank You, America!
It is easy to read about Bibi-Tours and dismiss the entire event as another minor-corruption case of a politician. Yet, it is deeply related to the USA support of Israel. The banality of evil: in order to function it needs to supply its servants with food and resources. How does this work for the State of Israel, which was defined as a terror inflicting organization? Many will shout now “Rothschild!” and forget the entire issue. It is true that rich Jews—so rich that nobody knows how much money they have or where they have hidden their assets—contribute generously to the State of Israel, but that’s a secondary source. Most contributors are unsuspecting gentiles. Fortunately for Israel, the Talmud doesn’t recognize their right to property.

The State of Israel Bonds are debt securities issued by the Government of Israel through a company known as the Development Corporation for Israel (DCI), which is located in New York. Since its first issue of bonds in 1951, the company collected over thirty billion dollars (non-amortized value). Since the Persian Gulf War of 1991, it has been collecting funds at a rate of over a billion dollars per year. For a small country like Israel this is big money. Where does this money go? The vast majority of it is used for strategic installations. The list includes: the National Water Carrier, the ports of Haifa, Eilat and Ashdod, the railway network, the Hadera Power Plant, the Ben Gurion International Airport, the Dead Sea Works and more. In fact, the bonds have been used to construct much of the country. This list is so impressive that is easy to forget its latest addition: Bibi-Tours. Some of Benjamin Netanyahu’s luxurious trips abroad before he became Prime Minister were funded by Israel Bonds.

Where does the money for the bonds come from? Half of the American states are invested in these bonds. The U.S. government already funds Israel generously through civilian and military help given every year. The parallel funding by the states creates a second level of support. None of these was ever put to vote. The American people are not asked if they want their money to fund wars and violence. The U.S. government downplays the whole issue; try getting accurate data and you’ll see what I mean. May I ask President Obama, why the American government allows its states to finance the luxurious trips of an Israeli politician?

I failed to obtain an answer from Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue. Yet, reliable sources related to this website have confirmed having heard him summarizing these events during a private conversation: “Thank you, America!” Netanyahu said with a charming smile and an impressive baritone, while gently tapping on his always expanding belly.

The Dollar Account Affair

“Bibi-Tours” strikes a chord within Israel’s collective memory. The current political map (see Shaul Mofaz Walks to Canossa) is the result of a similar affair known as the “Dollar Account Affair.” In 1977, the exposure of an illegal US Dollar bank account held by Israeli Prime Minister’s wife Leah Rabin, led to Rabin’s resignation from the government and his replacement by Shimon Peres. The Labor Party never recovered from the event, to the extent that nowadays it faces imminent disappearance.

On March 15, 1977, Haaretz journalist Dan Margalit revealed that a joint dollar account in the names of Yitzhak and Leah Rabin, had been opened in a Washington, D.C., bank during Rabin’s stay there as Israel’s ambassador (1968-73). The account was never closed following Rabin’s return to Israel. At the time, this was not allowed by Israeli law. Instead of imposing a minor fine, Attorney-General Aharon Barak—later to become Justice—announced that he would prosecute the Prime Minister, coining the phrase “Buzaglo Test.” This meant that a leader must be held to the same judicial standards as an ordinary citizen. Leah Rabin explained that she alone had operated the account, but Yitzhak Rabin accepted joint moral and legal responsibility. At first, it was thought that the sum in the account was $2,000, below the allowed $5,000 limit. Yet, after an investigation, it was found that the maximum deposit in the account had been around $20,000. Following Rabin’s resignation, he was not tried, but he and his wife paid hefty fines.
Since then, Rabin’s resignation is seen in Israel as the epitome of public responsibility. Nowadays, a similar behavior by Benjamin Netanyahu is inconceivable. Netanyahu has a very expensive house to take care of in exclusive Caesarea; he can’t allow himself to stick to nonsense Buzaglo Tests.

Micha Lindenstrauss

Can the looming decision of State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss be predicted? In the wild reality of Israel, where several oligarchic gangs literally fight one against the other, this is difficult. Nobody—except Shimon Peres and the Shin Beth—imagined that the Attorney General would force the Prime Minister Rabin to face trial for a minor offence. Yet, it has happened. Is there anything in Micha Lindenstrauss past that can hint regarding his attitude towards the Bibi-Tours Affair?
Chesire Cat - Smiling after a large bowl of cream
Chesire Cat Smiling after a large bowl of cream
The career of this former judge turned state comptroller is rather dull. Do you want to read about a Traffic Court Judge? No? I thought so. Yet, his name is well known for a scandal in his past. When he was President of the Haifa District Court, he acquitted the suspects in the gang rape of a fourteen year-old girl in Kibbutz Shimrat; that happened despite existing clear evidence, and that some of the culprits had admitted to the rape during their initial interrogation by the police. His rather questionable decision was reversed by the Supreme Court. Would such a man—oblivious to the pain and misery of a girl—care about illegitimately used funds, when the source of the money was mainly American and not Israeli? “Thank you, America! Thank you, America!” Netanyahu keeps saying, a wide Cheshire-cat smile on his face, and one fat hand tapping his ever expanding belly. “Thank you, America!”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
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