Source: Gush Shalom
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Source: Gush Shalom
This week we had several scandals to occupy us. Ehud Olmert, a former prime minister, was convicted of taking huge bribes when he was the mayor of Jerusalem. He was paid for approving a monstrous building complex on the highest hill of West Jerusalem, visible from a great distance.
As if this was not enough, Sylvan Shalom, a cabinet minister with half a dozen functions, was suspected of sexual assault. A former secretary remembered that 15 years ago he had attacked her in his hotel room.
With such exciting news to deal with, who can spare the time and energy to think about the crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which never really started at all? The public knows well enough that these negotiations are a farce set in motion by an American administration which does not have the guts to stand up to the hirelings of the Israeli government in Congress and impose anything on Binyamin Netanyahu.
INDEED, IF anyone had any illusions about American politics, they were dispelled this week.
The casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson, organized a public display of his power.
He summoned to his Las Vegas betting paradise the four most probable Republican candidates for the next presidential elections, in order to choose one of them. All the invitees heeded the summons, of course.
It was a shameless exhibition. The politicians groveled before the casino lord. Mighty governors of important states did their best to sell themselves like applicants at a job interview. Each of them tried to trump the others in promising to do the Mogul's bidding.
Flanked by Israeli bodyguards, Adelson grilled the American hopefuls. And what was he demanding from the future president of the United States? First of all and above everything else, blind and unconditional obedience to the government of another state:
Adelson is one of the richest Jews in the world. He is also a fanatical rightist -- not only an American rightist, but also an Israeli one.
While he is now looking for the best American president money can buy, he has already chosen his Israeli stooge. He has done something unprecedented in Israeli history: created an instrument to impose his ultra-right views on the Israeli people.
For this purpose he has invested large sums of money in a daily newspaper of his creation. It is called "Israel Hayom" (Israel today), and is literally priceless: it is distributed for nothing all over the country. Its readership is now the largest in the country, threatening the existence of the former No. 1, "Yedioth Ahronoth" and killing the next one, "Maariv."
The sole purpose of Adelson's paper is to serve Binyamin Netanyahu, personally and politically, unconditionally and unreservedly. This is such a blatant intervention in Israeli politics by a foreign billionaire that it is causing a reaction: all Knesset factions, both rightist and leftist (except the Likud, of course) have signed a demand to put an end to this corruption of democracy.
CURIOUSLY ENOUGH, the Zionist movement was founded in a casino. That was the name of the hall in Basel, Switzerland, where the First Zionist Congress took place in 1897. But it had nothing to do with betting. The Stadtkasino was just a centrally-located hall.
Since then, casinos had become betting places, connected in the public mind with the Mafia. Nowadays they seem to be kosher in the US, though strictly forbidden in Israel.
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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)