The Holy Land has its problems. One big one, if we're going to be honest about this, is is that the Jewish community in Israel is plagued with dishonesty.
During the run up to the March 17th election, Likud's promises for cabinet positions and sub-positions involved the usual imprecisions. But the promises for who was going to get what in the Knesset chairmanships appear to have fallen over into multiple overcommitments. That's causing real problems. Maybe solvable, maybe not if the initial Likud-announced coalition is to be preserved. (More below.)
Organized crime, however, is the Big Plague. It affects the whole society. Being an ultraorthodox rabbi is such an effective disguise that crime schemes have tempted members of this group like with no earlier generation. Money laundering is widespread. Tolerance of felons is the norm. One of their two political parties, Shas, is headed by a convicted felon Aryeh Deri.
Now that corruption of rabbis has reached further into the national police.
In Israel the equivalent to the American FBI is called Lahav 433. Back in 2008 Israel's top level international investigation units and counterterrorism units were consolidated with an aim to improve communication. But now the organized crime element has penetrated Lahav 433 as Brigadier General Ephraim Bracha and Major General Menashe Arviv have been caught taking bribes.
Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto pleaded guilty to paying a $100,000 bribe to Bracha. There appears to have been much more bribery involved. $1,200,000 had been moved to the same pay-out account. And out it went. Money laundering using a charity called Hazon Yeshaya had triggered law enforcement attention with an investigation underway that Pinto wanted to avoid.
In America the closest we've come to such a scandal occurred during the Watergate scandal in the 1970s. Misuse of the FBI, CIA and IRS was central to Nixon's criminal scheme to disrupt the anti-Vietnam War movement. These actions and “The Plumbers” Dirty Tricks crimes brought indictments of 69 people connected with the Nixon Administration with 48 of them ultimately incarcerated.
It's as though a Billy Graham or a Bishop Sheen had handled C.R.E.E.P. money.
Early on in the Watergate investigation, the FBI's Acting Director, L. Patrick Gray participated in the conspiracy by destroying evidence. That evidence was mostly papers that had been recovered from the White House office safe of Howard Hunt, an operative with “The Plumbers” who had been caught doing the burglary at the Watergate building.
Major General Menashe Arviv has resigned from his position heading Lahav 433. To be clear: Arviv's status was almost exactly a match to L. Patrick Gray.
Israel has 10 political parties that have taken seats for the 2015 Knesset. Forming a government has to take place in 42 days after the March 17th election. What complicates matters is that the combination of Likud, Ha-Bayit, and Yisrael Beiteinu lost seats in the election.
In fact, contrary to corporate media stories claiming a big victory for Bibi Netanyahu, his block is down to 44 seats. He needs 61 seats to form a government. That means getting Shas and United Torah Judaism, the religious parties, and also getting Kulanu which ran as an anti-corruption party.
Further, populating parts of Judea and Samaria — a.k.a. “the West Bank” — with Jews has taken more than one diabolical turn. Driving up apartment prices by a mere 3:1 ratio for Tel Aviv is part of it. Denying occupancy permits continues the pattern. Nothing has been done to facilitate entry-level housing for the main part of Israel in a decade.
There's Inside-The-Barriers and Outside-The-Barriers “settlements.” Why you'd want to live in an Outside-The-Barriers “settlement” has beyond my understanding until we looked at the rental prices.
Then the main issues of this March 17th election came down to Netanyahu screeching about nukes coming in from Iran, Ayman Odeh urging Arab-Israelis to GOTV, and Moshe Kahlon promising to clean up the housing market.
Connect the dots.
There's some 82,000 Jews, mostly young people, living in Outside-The-Barriers “settlements.” It has taken screwing the Israeli construction business, breaking agreements with the Palestinians, building new apartment complexes in “settlement” areas with billionaire contributions, and using religious organization to prep their members to produce what is now a vast relocation.
In ordinary circumstances, it is not clear how many of these people would be out there. Cheap rent is one thing. Living on disputed land is another question altogether.
Over a decade the Outside-The-Barrier population and the the Inside-The-Barriers population went up with more than 150,000 Jews moved/pushed out to the West Bank — a triumph of religious fervor, political coercion, permits, and money.
Fix the housing market and some number of the “settlements” could collapse in short order.
The plot thickens.
There is a story in Haaretz that Likud is leaking it that they're in talks with Isaac Herzog to float putting together a Unity Government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told a senior Likud figure in recent days that he does not reject the idea of a unity government with Zionist Union.
“Netanyahu understands the importance of a centrist coalition, both domestically and abroad,” the senior figure said. Nevertheless, since the election Netanyahu has consistently denied he would form a coalition with Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog.
It's Israel. There's always a kicker.
Here it's that Netanyahu needs to split up Zionist Union to get rid of a female politician named Tzipi Livni. She was Justice Minister and had heavy duty confrontations with Netanyahu and the crowd running the housing market disaster.
Tzipi knows way too much.
Just in passing the rents on apartments skyrocketed in the main part of Israel. Check. So rental property owners have been getting way richer in a hurry. That is going on today, pumping money out of the Middle Class just like America.
This is getting nastier by the day.
Odds on a working coalition, on Netanyahu getting together a government ??? I have no idea. He's had governments fall apart before. The man lies and everybody knows it — makes for interesting times.
We have our problems in America. But damn….