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ISRAEL'S 'AGE OF EXTREMES'

Olmert sentenced to six years in prison and a one-million shekel fine

 In spite of his conviction, Olmert is bent on winning an appeal to the Supreme Court following the memorable line of Dylan Thomas: 'Do not go gently into the good night'. However, his prospects do not look good in light of Zaken's damning testimony. Moreover, Zaken has now handed over tapes of Olmert that may incriminate him further in the prosecution's appeal to the Supreme Court over his most recent exoneration in a separate bribery trial. For his part, Judge Rosen has turned into a national hero for lambasting Olmert and the seven other defendants, sentencing them to up to eight years behind bars for their roles in the Holyland housing development. Rosen pulled no punches in declaring that Olmert and other public officials had 'betrayed' the public.  Public opinion and the media have lauded the judge for setting a new and stiffer standard for public officials who exploit their positions to line their pockets. Zaken was the one exception; Judge Rosen sentenced her to only eleven months of jail time after she turned state's witness. 

Shula Zaken

 For the first time, an Israeli prime minister has been sentenced to jail. And while everyone agreed it was disgraceful, there is also a silver lining to this black cloud. There is no question that the Jewish state has a judicial system of the first order. If it were not clear to everyone, Judge Rosen literally banged his gavel and declared that even the most senior public officials must be equal before the law. They were certainly not entitled to preferential treatment: on the contrary, they must set a sterling example, and if not, they would suffer the full rigor of the law in the spirit of 'let the punishment fit the crime!' Obviously, this has not been a Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera for Ehud Olmert and his crooked associates in the ludicrously named Holyland building project that now mars part of the Jerusalem skyline. 

Judge David Rosen
...even the most senior public officials must be equal before the law.

 Question: Who profits from this bitter fruit? The Holyland scam involved the paying of bribes to Olmert, and other city officials by the project developers for increasing the number of housing units approved by the Jerusalem municipality. Obviously, the more units the greater the profit, and in this case it probably ran into the hundreds of millions. Hillel Cherney, the landowner and project developer, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison and a fine of two million shekels. But despite his jail time and paltry fine, should Cherney be allowed to keep his huge profits from this bitter fruit? So far the issue has not been discussed, so I put the question to a leading legal expert. In his view, the prosecution can seek the fraudulent profits from Cherney. It amounts to a significant fortune, so I suggest it be deposited in the coffers of the Jerusalem municipality as compensation for the Holyland eyesore that Jerusalemites refer to as the 'monster'. Moreover, Jerusalemites pay the highest municipal taxes in the country due its large number of ultra-orthodox citizens who receive big discounts on their tax rates. 

 
Holyland Building in Jerusalem
But despite his jail time and paltry fine, should Cherney be allowed to keep his huge profits...?

 Amos Oz & 'Neo-Nazi' Right wingers...

 Author Amos Oz apparently wanted to make a point, but his comparison of Israeli fanatics with Neo-Nazis in Europe was a verbal overkill. As despicable as their actions are, such as spray-painting anti-Arab graffiti on mosques, trying to torch Arab buildings and slashing tires, they do not dare to march in the streets waving banners. On the contrary, they slink about like thieves in the night. The Israeli government and society have condemned these extremists as terrorists, not only in word but also in deed: the Shabak Security Service has also been called in to aid the Israeli Police in catching the vandals. But so far they have failed to curb the perpetrators who have also taken to vandalizing Christian sites, another major headache in light of the Pope's upcoming visit to the Holy Land. 

Israeli author Amos Oz (photo credit: Lesekreis)

 Nonetheless, why have these Israeli fanatics not been apprehended? The problem is they are not running an organized network which can be penetrated. Security officials believe they are small, independent groups with no communication between one another and with no outside connections. They are thought to be located in the West Bank settlements, although the settlers have totally dissociated themselves from their actions. (It should also be noted that Yigal Amir, the ultimate Jewish terrorist, who murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, did not reside in a West Bank settlement). Former Shabak Security Chief, Yuval Diskin, once told the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee that there were about 1,000 potential Jewish terrorists, and obviously some of them might now be involved in what they call the 'Price Tag' extremists. Their twisted mania is that when the Israeli authorities take action against illegal settlement building on the West Bank, the Price Tag terrorists retaliate against Palestinians. 

"price tag" graffiti that reads: Price Tag. Revenge
The Israeli government and society have condemned these extremists as terrorists, not only in word but also in deed...

 But coming back to Amos Oz, although he may be perceived as the Oracle of Delphi by far Left Israelis, that does not give him a monopoly on venting his rage against the Price Tag hooligans - an overwhelming number of Israelis are also disgusted with their actions and want them brought to justice. So comparing them to neo-Nazis and arousing the specter of the Holocaust was inappropriate. Although it was great for getting the headlines, I would suggest that next time Amos Oz refer to them as fascist fanatics. 

 

 

 David Essing

 

 

 

 

 Rivki Matan Editor

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