Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Column: Edna Arbel -- Untouchable

Two weeks ago I wrote briefly about how investigative reporter, Yoav Yitzhak, has accused State Prosecutor, Edna Arbel, of being deeply involved in a very serious scandal and how Yitzchak has even challenged her to file a libel suit against him.

The matter should be headline news but is being almost completely ignored by the press -- google it and see. This, while at the same time Arbel leads an investigation against Ariel Sharon that many believe may be influencing his decisions on foreign policy and security issues.

Already, thousands of Israel’s most loyal and long suffering citizens -- who helped put Sharon in office -- have been put on notice that they face eviction from their homes, businesses, farms, schools and shuls. This "unilateral withdrawal" is of course seen as a victory by the "Palestinians" and encourages them to continue on the path of terror.

Yitzchak claims that "... During the 1999 investigation into the Barak campaign associations scandal, Arbel, or someone acting on her behalf, asked then-Prime Minister Barak and other ministers under investigation at the time to arrange a position for her husband on the Board of Directors of Israel's shipping company, Zim Lines."

At the time the request was allegedly made, Zim was owned jointly by the State of Israel and Israel Corp which is controlled by the Ofer group, a privately held company owned by brothers Yuli and Sami Ofer. On Feb 5, 2004, The Ofer group, which owned 48.9% of Zim, increased their ownership to 97.5% as the state sold its interest as part of the ongoing privitization of state owned businesses. If Yitzchak’s accusation is true then the state had a controlling interest in Zim at the time when then-Prime Minister Barak was approached by Arbel. Zim is very large company. It is the world's 10th-largest container shipping company and with a fleet of over 81 vessels it calls in 265 ports worldwide. It was no small favor that the Arbels are accused of requesting. Arbel’s appointment to the board of Zim "eventually fell through" according to the Jerusalem Post.

In response to Yitzchak’s accusation and challenge the State Prosecution, according to Arutz 7, issued the following statement:

"These claims are totally groundless. The State Prosecutor never turned to or talked to any minister or anyone in the Executive Branch. These stories make one feel, unfortunately, that there is an attempt to weaken the Prosecutor's hands. She will continue to do her work in a professional manner."

With that the matter was meant to be put to rest. However, if you read the wording of the statement carefully you will notice there is no actual denial of Yitzchak’s charge. First of all it is not clear whether Arbel issued the statement herself and spoke in the third person or it was made by her office for her. Secondly, there is no denial that someone had acted on her behalf, only that she personally made no direct request for an appointment for her husband. The statement, rather than directly denying the accusation, avoids it and confuses the issues. Was this done intentionally in order to protect Arbel from the risks of making what might later be shown to be a blatantly false statement of denial while at the same time giving the misleading impression that a complete denial was made? What about the obvious issue of the fox guarding the hen house?

The Edna Arbel story is exceptional in that it not only suggests the depth of the corruption and politicization of the legal system and it’s influence over the government but it also shows the media’s complicity in supporting their leftist agenda by simply not covering the story. It also shows the intertwining of commercial interests with the government, the court, the press and leftist politics. It is indicative of the kind of forces that come into play to push forward the surrender agenda of the left and keep Israel’s elected officials towing the line.

Just a few days ago the nationalist camp’s expectations were once again crushed when the Prime Ministerial-hopeful Binyamin Netanyahu, who in his last term as Prime Minister also came under investigation, failed to come out strongly against Sharon's unilateral withdrawal. For weeks Netanyahu had played his cards close to his chest and kept everyone guessing what his move would be. It’s hard to believe he wasn’t looking over his shoulder as he played his hand.


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