After the (limited ) success of the disengagement from Gaza, the time has come for another disengagement - that which will release Israel from the chains of the corrupting influence of wealthy Jewish men. One of the conclusions that arises from the impressive and extensive investigative report by Gidi Weitz on Austrian billionaire Martin Schlaff and his activities in Israel, published in Haaretz on the eve of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, is that the wealthiest members of the world Jewish community who stir the pot in Israel frequently do more damage than good.
Schlaff is not the first Jewish octopus, and will not be the last, to stretch his long tentacles toward us: Since its founding Israel has been the playground of Jewish moguls, most of whom do not consider living here, instead stirring things up from afar, by means of their money.
While it's true that the state's establishment was made possible, among other reasons, through Jewish money that flowed here since the days of Rothschild, a strong and established country like Israel should also know when to wrench free of this money's grasp. Figures like Schlaff, Ron Lauder, Edgar Bronfman, Sheldon Adelson, Irving Moskowitz, Meshulam Riklis, Arie Genger and the like wield too much influence.
Some stir things up here to increase their own wealth, taking advantage of the benefits Israel heaps upon them, while others invest here for legitimate Zionist motives. But quite a few do so to amuse themselves with the power games the country lets them get away with it. In what other Western country are foreign citizens able to stir the pot to such a great extent? In no other country are the leaders' doors so wide open to these foreign nationals, simply because of their wealth. Such a spectacle only occurs in third-world countries, to which Israel purports not to belong.
But this dirty tango always takes two. The wealthy Jews seeking to stir the pot have always been accompanied by Israeli politicians who, with unbearable enthusiasm, have agreed to be courted. Behind almost every successful Israeli politician is a Jewish tycoon, particularly since the system of primaries was instituted. Behind every tycoon is his pet politician. Some of the politicians' obsequious attitude toward the magnates is shameful: Their offices are enlisted to see to it that the rich man is flattered; the pilgrimage these statesmen proteges make to both the tycoons and the indulgences they are offered is insufferable. The influence of these wealthy individuals can be corrupt and corrupting, even if it has no criminal aspect to it.
Weitz's investigation sheds as much light on us and on the life of our elite, as it does on Schlaff, the hero of his article. Read how the system was yoked into establishing a casino in Jericho: Suddenly we can cooperate with the Palestinians, but only to pad the pockets of the magnate and some of his local subjects.
Adelson puts out a newspaper, Moskowitz builds settlements, Lauder negotiates in the name of Israel's prime minister, Riklis helped buy a ranch and Genger helped finance a libel trial - all supporters of the right. The left has also had a few tycoons, although their numbers are fewer and influence considerably less.
When Moskowitz finances settlements for whose bitter fruits all of Israel pays - and not he - he should be kept clear of here.
Just as the benefit to Israel of the belligerent and heavy-handed U.S. Jewish lobby is quite dubious - to the extent that for a long time it has seemed it would be better for Israel if it disappeared altogether - so, too, we must now question the Jewish money flowing to Israel from those who choose not to live here: Does Israel actually benefit from this practice, or does this merely serve as a bed for degenerative rot?
Haaretz's investigative report on Schlaff has proven how corrupting the way of the Jewish tycoon can be when he meets the Israeli politician. The time has come, therefore, to start disengaging. The door to foreign investors and contributors should of course remain wide open, but Israel must tell its Jewish brethren: It is your right to try and exert influence here, but you cannot buy politicians.
We have enough homegrown connections between money and government in Israel, we don't need a relationship between (Jewish ) money and (Israeli ) government as well. Stir the pot in your own countries, tycoons, and get your hands off our politicians; say goodbye, Israeli politicians, from the corrupting temptations of the wealthy. The time to disengage has come.
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