Two challenges to our integrity

Published in The Jerusalem Post on December 15, 2002

Over the past week, two major clarion calls have been issued that demand the sustained attention of our press and politicians. In the rush of election frenzy, I fear they will be forgotten.


* Follow the Oslo money trail: Ben Capsit’s expose in *Maariv* last week about Yossi Ginossar’s shady business dealings with Yasser Arafat is but the tip of the corrupt Oslo iceberg. The story poses a challenge to our entire political system: Will this expose of improper and sordid Oslo money-machinations be properly followed-up by our politicians and police?


Reportedly, former Shin Bet official Ginossar secreted-away abroad millions of dollars for Yasser Arafat, using the profits of exclusive business dealings in cement, gas and gambling that he made through close ties with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. This, while serving as a formal Israel-PA diplomatic go-between.


In past, similar revelations about the undersides of Oslo have been ignored by the mainstream media and the political elites. In fact, most of what Caspit published was first reported *two years ago* by Adir Zik in *Hazofe* – but ignored.


*Makor Rishon*, and the Norwegian press, have published extensive investigations of EC and other funds improperly flowing through the Peres Center for Peace. These funds have reached the pockets of Oslo hacks like Terje Larsen and his wife, as well as pet projects established or backed by Yossi Beilin. The Israeli press has paid only perfunctory attention.


No-one has seriously taken up investigation of the $60 million that the Peres Center invested in Paltel, the PA telephone and communications cartel. Shimon Peres raised the money from foreign investors through his “Peace Technology Fund”, and then bought massive shares of Paltel. Guess who is on the board of the Center and the Fund and who was centrally involved in the purchase? Yossi Ginossar.


Then there is the unfinished and seemingly-forgotten business of the “amutot”, the manifold and super-secret not-for-profit associations which funded Ehud Barak’s first election campaign. Much of these funds naturally came from American Jews aligned with Labor.


Now we learn from Caspit’s expose that some of the profits made by Ginossar and held in trust for Arafat, apparently made their way from Arafat’s Swiss accounts to at least one prominent American Jew centrally involved in a pro-Labor and pro-Barak support group, which in turn has been connected to the murky puzzle of “amutot”. Is there a connection? Did Ginossar’s shady dealings with Arafat partially pay for Barak’s campaign?


According to sources, other Arafat-Ginossar funds may have oiled the tongue, pen and research center of a high-profile American Jew with an international bully-pulpit who has become a pro-Palestinian propagandist.


Given the centrality of Oslo to our political life and national security debate, you would think that there is enough smoke here to draw-in the investigative attentions of half-a-dozen rightist politicians! To paraphrase the legendary “Deep Throat” of Watergate: Follow the money trail.


Yet, not a soul in the Knesset stirs. Why? The attorneys have warned their right-wing MK clients to sit tight and shut-up, because Labor threatens to retaliate: “You pursue our back-room money matters too closely, and we’ll go after yours…”


And thus, more Oslo mendacity may go unreported and unpunished.


* Academic Faithfulness: In an important speech delivered at the opening of the Herzliya Conference on Israel’s National Security – and unfortunately completely ignored by the press – Herzliya Interdisciplinary College President Uriel Reichman issued an unprecedented call to his Israeli academic colleagues to join the battle against the “pariah-ization” of Israel around the world and to contribute to “the strengthening Israel’s national cohesion”.


Reichman decried the anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activity of too-many Israeli leftist professors. “Sadly”, said Reichman, “a group of my colleagues recently has supported conscientious objection to military service beyond the Green Line –at a time when we are fighting for our mere existence. Others have lectured across Europe saying that Israel’s anti-terrorist activity – simple self-defense, aimed at stopping those who would murder Israeli citizens – is tantamount to war crimes.


“Some professors in Israeli universities no longer limit themselves to criticizing the settlement movement. Rather, they describe Israel as a ruthless, non-democratic, occupier that seeks to expel, starve, humiliate and abuse the Palestinian population. Some of them have even called supported the calls for an academic boycott on Israel. Entire circles within academia are obsessed with a narrative that describes Zionist history in terms of colonialism; others talk of Zionism as a force which “manipulates the Holocaust” to justify its “racist” actions.


Reichman correctly named Prof. Adi Ophir of Tel Aviv U. – who for many years edited the country’s leading intellectual journal *Theory and Criticism* — as an example of the worst kind of Israeli self-hatred; as someone who considers Israel to be “an accursed remnant of European nationalism, racism, fascism, colonialism, militarism and capitalism”. But as anyone who has lived or traveled enough abroad knows, the problem goes far beyond Ophir.


Will other university presidents take up Reichman’s challenge and join him in this important message of intellectual patriotism and national solidarity? Will our Foreign Ministry heed the message, as well, and learn to be more selectively and defiantly Zionist in its choice of academics sent abroad to defend Israel? We dare not let this courageous clarion call go unanswered.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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