Netanyahu Indicted – Fraud, Breach of Trust, Bribery

POLITICO Playbook PM: Trump’s man in Israel indicted on bribery and fraud charges

BREAKING IN ISRAEL — “Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Indicted on Bribery, Fraud, Breach of Trust Charges,” by WSJ’s Felicia Schwartz in Tel Aviv: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on bribery charges Thursday, imperiling the country’s longest-serving leader as he looks set to fight for his personal and political future in a third election contest.

“Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said Mr. Netanyahu will be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection to three corruption probes known as Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000. Mr. Netanyahu allegedly traded official favors for flattering news coverage as well as gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, including pink champagne, cigars and jewelry. The bribery charge, a key element of Case 4000, is the most serious and, if convicted, Mr. Netanyahu could face up to 10 years in prison. The lesser charges could result in three to five years in jail.” WSJ

— @jaketapper: “I’m sure this will alarm all of those who profess to be concerned about corruption abroad.”

NYT JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF DAVID HALBFINGER: “There were already signs of unrest in Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, as a popular younger lawmaker, Gideon Saar, called Thursday for a primary contest for prime minister, and said he would be a contender.

“Even if Mr. Netanyahu fends off intraparty challengers, and assembles a viable coalition in Parliament, Mr. Plesner said that the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, might balk at assigning him the task of forming a government while he awaits trial. In addition, critics are expected to petition the Supreme Court to rule that Mr. Netanyahu must step down.” NYT

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Satmar Rebbe’s Visit Not Necessarily A Welcomed Visit in Jerusalem

Posters Against Satmar Rebbe’s Visit in Israel Plastered All Over Yerushalyim

It seems that R’ Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, Williamsburg Rebbe will be getting a taste of his own medicine …he isn’t going to like this one bit ..
There isn’t a block in Meah Shearim that doesn’t have posters plastered against the Satmar Rebbe ….
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Why the Rush to Cable Cars? Israel, Politics and Finance

Israel’s Housing Cabinet Green Lights Controversial Jerusalem Old City Cable Car Plan

The plan, which was rejected by environmentalists, architects and local Palestinians, has long been disputed by critics who say a transition government shouldn’t approve it

Illustration of the cable car crossing over the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Illustration of the cable car crossing over the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Israel’s Housing Cabinet approved on Monday the controversial construction plan of a cable car to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The decision to green light the project came despite an urgent inquiry sent several days ago by the plan’s opponents to Attorney General Avichai Mendelbit in which they argued that a project of such importance cannot be approved by a transition government.

Last week, Mendelblit’s aides replied that the matter is being looked into, but in the meantime the Housing Cabinet approved the plan, which still needs to undergo a procedural approval by the government. The plan’s opponents intend to petition the High Court of Justice against it.

The plan has drawn widespread opposition from architects, local Palestinian residents and environmentalists who criticized the expected damage to the historic landscape of the Old City. In addition, critics say the cable car won’t solve the area’s transportation and access problems.

Nevertheless, the plan was fast-tracked by the National Infrastructure Committee and promoted by the Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem Development Authority.

According to those objecting to the plan, the cabel car project was promoted by the National Infrastructure Committee and not by the District Planning Committee in order to more easily fend off objections to the plan.

The 1.4-kilometer cable car line will begin at the First Station compound, passing over the neighborhoods of Abu Tor and the Valley of Hinnom, then through the Mount Zion parking lot and from there to its last stop, the Kedem visitor center in the Silwan neighborhood. From the Kedem center, visitors will proceed on foot to the Western Wall.

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With Resentment Jew Against Jew…The Upcoming Israel Vote and Similarities to Counties in NY and NJ

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CreditCreditSergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

How Jewish Should the Jewish State Be? The Question Shadows an Israeli Vote

JERUSALEM — For years, the resentment had been building.

In Israel, Jewish men and women are drafted into the military, but the ultra-Orthodox are largely exempt. Unlike other Israelis, many ultra-Orthodox receive state subsidies to study the Torah and raise large families.

And in a country that calls itself home to all Jews, ultra-Orthodox rabbis have a state-sanctioned monopoly on events like marriage, divorce and religious conversions.

A series of political twists has suddenly jolted these issues to the fore, and the country’s long-simmering secular-religious divide has become a central issue in the national election on Tuesday.

In a country buffeted by a festering conflict with the Palestinians, increasingly open warfare with Iran and a prime minister facing indictment on corruption charges, the election has been surprisingly preoccupied with the question of just how Jewish — and whose idea of Jewish — the Jewish state should be.

“I have nothing against the ultra-Orthodox, but they should get what they deserve according to their size,” said Lior Amiel, 49, a businessman who was out shopping in Ramat Hasharon. “Currently, I’m funding their lifestyle.”

This election was supposed to be a simple do-over, a quick retake to give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a second chance to form a government and his opponents another shot at running him out of office.

Instead it has become what Yohanan Plesner, president of the nonpartisan Israel Democracy Institute, calls “a critical campaign for the trajectory of the country.”

Blame Avigdor Lieberman, the right-wing secular politician who forced the new election by refusing to join Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition with the ultra-Orthodox. The hill Mr. Lieberman chose to fight on was a new law that would eliminate the wholesale exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men to serve in the military.

Ultra-Orthodox lawmakers wanted to water it down. Mr. Lieberman refused to compromise.

It may have been a ploy to grab attention, but it struck a nerve. Almost overnight, Mr. Lieberman’s support doubled, and he became an unlikely hero to liberals.

For years, says Jason Pearlman, a veteran right-wing political operative, the two main axes of Israeli politics, religion and the Palestinians, had been “zip-tied” together. Mr. Netanyahu’s longtime coalition was just such a merger — right-wing voters, who favored a hard line toward the Palestinians, and the ultra-Orthodox, who promised a bloc vote in exchange for concessions on religious issues.

“What Lieberman did was to snap those zip-ties, popping the axes back apart,” Mr. Pearlman said.

Secular and liberal leaders from the left and center responded by effectively joining forces with the right-wing Mr. Lieberman against the prime minister’s ultra-Orthodox and religious-nationalist allies.

These rebels say that the mushrooming ultra-Orthodox population, with its unemployed religious students and large families subsidized by the state, is imposing excessive fiscal and social burdens on other Israelis. They are demanding more pluralistic options for marriages and conversions.

They were appalled that the ultrareligious parties were willing to grant Mr. Netanyahu immunity from prosecution, arguing that Mr. Netanyahu was buying his way out of jail by allowing Israel to be turned into a theocracy.

And they are furious at the growing influence of a quasi-evangelistic group of religious-nationalist Jews who espouse anti-feminist, anti-gay views and a far-right, messianic ideology.

“It’s becoming more and more alarming,” said Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the left-wing Democratic Union party. “People are starting to feel threatened.”

The ultra-Orthodox parties insist that they are simply defending a status quo that dates to Israel’s founding and is meant to preserve study of the Torah by its most pious devotees. A compromise with Israel’s then-fledgling religious community gave Orthodox rabbis control over family and dietary laws, among other things, in exchange for their support for the new state.

The ultra-Orthodox now make up only 10 percent of eligible Jewish voters, Israeli pollsters say — compared with 44 percent who consider themselves secular — but they have kept and added to those concessions thanks to their ability to extract promises in exchange for their political support.

“We’re not becoming a smaller minority, we’re becoming a larger minority,” said Yitzhak Zeev Pindrus, a lawmaker from the ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism. “But we’re trying to keep it the same way it is.”

The religious-nationalists dismiss the criticism of their intentions as anti-Semitic self-loathing.

“They’re on a hate campaign against anything that has a Jewish aroma to it,” said Eytan Fuld, a spokesman for the right-wing Yamina party.

 

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What Could Become of Israel if the Ultra-Orthodox Parties Win Additional Knesset Seats and a Dystopic View in TV

The cast of Autonomies.

Israeli TV show puts wall between secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews

‘This is the reality that currently exists in Israel,’ says the creator of Autonomies

War rages in the heart of the Middle East. Jerusalem is captured. Concrete walls go up, and a deep distrust spreads across the holy land.

The well-worn tale is used as the backdrop to multiple Israeli television dramas. Yet for one show, it is not Arabs and Jews who are doing the fighting, but Jews and Jews.

Currently touring film festivals across the world, the six-part series Autonomies envisions a clash between secular Jews and the deeply religious ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Jews.

In this vision, set in the near future, civil war has cut the land into two countries. The coastal State of Israel is nonreligious, with the cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv as its capital. Jerusalem is a walled, autonomous city-state, run by Haredi rabbis.

At first glance dystopian, the show is in fact an artistic extrapolation of real-life rifts in Israeli society. Many Israelis increasingly see secular-Haredi disaccord about the future of the state as a greater concern than the Palestinian issue, and fear it could tear the country apart from the inside.

Earlier this year, disagreements between secular and religious politicians shattered attempts to form a coalition government and dragged the country into a second round of elections. On 17 September, Israelis will go back to the polls following a campaign in which political parties have sought to exploit internal animosity.

Yehonatan Indursky, an Israeli filmmaker who wrote Autonomies with the writer Ori Elon, says the show takes divisions in Israel “to extremes, and tries to show what can happen if we do not wake up and try to find the way to live together and respect one another’s way of life”.

The drama’s protagonist, Broide (played by Assi Cohen), is a Haredi man who moves contraband, smuggling pornography and books banned by the religious authorities into Jerusalem. He is one of a few who crosses between the two sides and is soon caught up in a controversy that could reignite the war.

Yehonatan Indursky.

 The Israeli filmmaker Yehonatan Indursky, pictured, wrote the show with the writer Ori Elon. Photograph: Dpa Picture Alliance/Alamy Stock Photo

 

 

 

The series comes off the back of the writers’ hit Netflix show Shtisel, which received acclaim for sensitively and lovingly portraying Haredi family life, and has been renewed for a third season. Autonomies instead paints a much bleaker scene.

“Autonomies gives a kick in the stomach. And sometimes it is painful and hard to watch,” Indursky said.

What is fascinating for many viewers is how similar the setting of Autonomies appears. Israelis today lament a nation already divided, with the Haredim often living in their own neighbourhoods, women covering their hair with wigs and men wearing black coats and hats.

To secular outcries, ultra-Orthodox politicians have sought to ban public transport and other activities on the Jewish holy day of rest, and outlaw non-kosher food in supermarket chains. They feel their way of life is under threat.

Meanwhile, resentment against them focuses on hefty government stipends given to the community, as many men do not work but study religious texts. Almost half live in poverty.

Indursky grew up in an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem but has not been part of the community for years, although he keeps close links with family and friends. He said he had received two main responses from Israelis to the series, both of which saddened him.

“One possible answer is that this is really not a dystopia but rather a utopia,” he said, adding some viewers backed the idea of separate countries to end seemingly irreconcilable differences.

“The second possible answer is that this is not a dystopia – this is the reality that currently exists in Israel. And in a way, that’s part of what we wanted to show through the series.”

The fissure between secular and ultra-Orthodox communities has already spiralled to the point that it ignited a political crisis this year.

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