Israeli Realities

Reporting (almost) daily from Israel.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Who is running the show ?

Israelis have a sense of pride in their ability to control their leaders, and not the other way around. People will often use the pun about the word Sar (Minister) which in a different spelling means "Obliging". The minister, therefore, is not ruling us but the other way around, complying with our commands. Israelis are also very much involved in news and politics, much more than any other nation I happened to visit. This creates the illusion of control and a sense of familiarity and intimacy with the leaders. Since Israel is also fairly small, people usually know someone who knows the minister, or another "wheeler and dealer". This is all a very convenient illusion, hiding a reality of ignorance to the most important political facts. Partly, it has to do with the insulation of Israel from global information networks, the barrier of language, and a culture of secrecy and hierarchy.

But recently, the "truth behind the veil" began to leak, as it turned out that each politician or man in power is financed and "operated" by one or more Jewish millionaires living abroad. It started with criminal scandals during elections, revealing the connections between candidates and financiers and advisors from abroad. It then followed with the Cyril Keren charges against Ariel Sharon (Keren is a South African Jew with a lot of money). Earlier, there was the Weitzman scandal, namely, the scoop that exposed illicit financial dealings between the president Ezer Weitzman and his rich Jewish friend "who was only trying to help".

We always knew there are good and generous rich Jews who contribute to our economy, and that sometimes they get a favor in return, such as privileged tax status for their foreign investments. But most of the big money came to Israel through more or less official organizations, such as the Jewish Agency, INF etc. Later, the rules changed as each party or NGO started raising their own funds abroad and fostering personal "patrons" for their agenda. Finally, the "free market" prevailed, and in fact each person, official, general, politician began soliciting funds and favors from "his own donor". In order to "keep the donor", a culture of secrecy, manipulations, slander and spins began spreading. So much so, that Sharon reported last week that people from his own party, Likkud, were going around Washington trying to convince American politicians to stop the aid for the disengagement.

Even in my son's kindergarten, a public facility owned and managed by the municipality of Tel Aviv, the same phenomenon happens. The teacher found a nice retired Jewish Canadian millionaire who sponsors "her" facility, and the kids are forced to draw painting and send cards to their kind "Santa clause" (Or sugar daddy long legs), to keep him interested in their place, rather than another. Nobody knows how much money comes this way, who gets is and what actually happens to it.

Bibi Netanyahu went even further. His "operators" (Lauder, finkelstein etc.) don't even bother to stay in the dark, behind the scene. Their interference is blatant, to the point that Bibi is presented as a marketing rep for their financial and "spiritual" interests in Israel.
Thus, the "real show" is taking place elsewhere and far from the Knesset or the Cabinet. Decisions are made in the offices of the rich, each according to his ability, money and ties in Washington or other government. Chabad, for instance, a movement that opposes the disengagement from its headquarters in NY, has more influence (money wise and otherwise) than local constituencies, no matter how large they are in numbers. In a similar way, Reformed Jews from the USA - who push their religious and political agenda to the left of the center - operate directly on Israeli institutes, using their money and personal "reps" here. Thus, although the number of Reformed Jews in Israel is negligible, they have scored legal and administrative battles that impose their identity politics on the Israelis.

Looking at the larger picture, it seems that Israel is a test field and playground - not only for American made weapons, but - for rich Jews who project their darkest desires on this war torn land. Each, according to his "visions", fantasies or financial interests, personal frustration, or simple boredom/leisure/hobby, moves his "pawns" on the board. Now we have the new Russian oligarchy, with their agenda adding to the general confusion and corruption of values and government. People who are official charged with crimes and murder in their country of origin, get involved in Jewish affairs, holocaust commemoration, right wing politics, possibly to gain Israel's protection from extradition.

The common Israeli - now and following Netanyahu's reforms brought down to the level of miserable poverty - has very little, if any, control over his fate. Even his or her poverty is nothing but another "grantwriting op" for resourceful entrepreneurs, in search of their own "patron".

I wrote all this, to answer some of the critique, coming from liberal corners abroad. Since the real game is happening in your arena, go straight to your leaders, financiers and politicians and challenge their decisions. Certainly, don't join that scam and beat up the Israelis for something they can't change anyway, even if the Israelis themselves are in denial of this fact and move around as if they control the world.


At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Tal said...

Excellent points you make here. Once more of us figure out WHO is running our show(s) we will better understand how to respond.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger iris said...

Thank you Tal, your name tells me your Israeli...
Yes, surely in order to find out WHO is running show, we need to open up the proper media and means, such as blogs and websites and alternative ways to pass on information. Happy to see you here, and stay with us...happy new year.


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