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FBI Accuses Israeli Police, Cabinet Minister of Sabotaging Congressional Corruption Investigation

pinto gag order

Israeli ministry of justice gag order preventing reporting that police and cabinet minister perverted justice on Rep. Michael Grimm’s behalf.

This story begins with Israel’s coterie of wonder rabbis, who parlay their status far beyond the spiritual realm.  They’re genuine influence-peddlers who arrange deals, broker truces, and help along the careers of their disciples.  Don’t think conventional rabbis, think more along the lines of a mafia don, but one that doesn’t kill people (he is a rabbi after all).  Followers pay them for blessings, and if that doesn’t work, the rabbis aren’t averse to using their personal mojo to “move things along.”

One of the best connected of these rabbis is Yoshiyahu Pinto.  A Forbes list tallies his net worth at around $18-million.  Overall, the magazine finds that $250-million flows into the coffers of these spiritual wheeler-dealers every year.

Pinto divides his ministry between Israel and New York (where his richest followers live).  It must be said, that while their dealings and modus operandi seem spiritually dubious to me, if not corrupt, there are far worse criminals who attempt to exploit the financial success of these rabbis.

In New York, a duo of sleazy Israeli con artists attempted to extort Pinto in a protections racket.  They demanded an extraordinary sum or they would leak to the media medical reports about the post partum depression from which Pinto’s wife suffered after her last pregnancy.  She later attempted to commit suicide when these documents were published.

The rabbi paid the bribe, but then turned around and reported it to Rep. Michael Grimm, himself a former FBI agent.  The Israeli hoped that Grimm might help bring the extortionists to justice.  In gratitude for his supposed assistance, Pinto allowed Grimm’s accomplices (at least one of whom later plead guilty to a crime) to muscle in on the rabbi’s donors for campaign gifts on Grimm’s behalf.  Some of the rabbi’s followers contributed because they were told it would help the spiritual guru.  Pinto also paid a Grimm security firm inordinate sums to protect him from the very criminals with whom Grimm was in cahoots.  The GOP Congressman had a side deal with one of the extortionists that, in return for the $500,000 he raised, the Congressman would get him a U.S. green card.

michael grimm netanyahu

Rep. Michael Grimm with his “special friend,” Bibi Netanyahu

Grimm is known as a political intimate of Bibi Netanyahu.  He was especially vocal in Congress against U.S. aid to the PA and in favor of a more aggressive posture toward Iran.  Grimm, as one of Barack Obama’s strongest foreign policy critics, was an ace in the hole for Bibi in the Cold War he experienced when the President virtually shut him out of foreign policy deliberations on Iran.  Apparently, you don’t turn your back on friends like Grimm, as you’ll see by reading on.

Grimm, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island in Congress, is of Italian ancestry.  The NY Times has documented Grimm’s ties to a known member of an organized crime family that appears separate from the Pinto case.

Eventually, one of the rabbi’s disciples brought the case to the FBI itself, which began an investigation which turned Grimm from predator to prey.  At the moment when Grimm discovered he was being pursued, messages began to arrive at the rabbi’s court from Israeli police officials.  They warned Pinto against doing anything to harm Grimm.  Only three days after the FBI arrested the first of Grimm’s Israeli accomplices, Israeli police opened their own investigation of Pinto.  Among the crimes the Israeli police charged were a slew of corrupt acts (money laundering, tax evasion, theft, embezzlement and fraud) through one of his charities, Hazon Yeshiya.

Shortly thereafter, Israeli police fraud investigator Ephraim Bracha, who’d been a disciple of Pinto for fifteen years and received financial assistance (police claim it was $50,000) from him in the past, attempted to transform this aid into a bribery attempt.  In fact, it was the rabbi’s wife, the very person Grimm’s extortionists attempted to smear, who was instrumental in helping Bracha when he needed it, though her own health was impaired.

The FBI was so angry it sent wiretap recordings to Israel’s ministry of justice, on which Israeli police can be heard plotting to physically harm Pinto.  Even a senior cabinet minister can be heard making efforts to sabotage the case.  The Americans also discovered that one of the rabbi’s confidants, who conspired with Grimm and his accomplices, was also embezzling massive amounts from the rabbi’s charitable funds.  The money was then sent on to Israel.  When the FBI asked for the Israeli police’s help in tracing the routes of the cash into the Israeli financial system, they got a cold shoulder.

This is how the system works in Israel.  If you’re big enough, powerful enough–as Michael Grimm is–you can bend the system for your benefit.  Even if it means sabotaging a U.S. Justice Department criminal investigation.  This is also an example of how Israel’s best friends in Congress, even the corrupt ones, can call on their allies in Israel to help them.

A good deal, though not all of this, is published in Allison Cowan’s NY Times reporting on the story.

CORRECTION: thanks to Michael Sfard, for correcting an error below.  The ministry of justice investigations unit is conducting the probe into possible police perversion of justice.  It requested the gag.  The police aren’t conducting the inquiry, as I report below.

This may explain why a strange thing has happened.  The police have turned to the court and asked for a gag order on the case.  They’ve taken an even more draconian measure and demanded that even the existence of the gag order may not be reported (which is why I am doing so).  Haaretz reported (Hebrew) that the police were concealing a major case which would cause them deep embarrassment and result in severely tarnishing the reputation of law enforcement throughout the nation.  Undoubtedly this is that case.

This proves once again one of my main claims about Israeli gag orders and government secrecy, that it protects the interests of the politically-connected.  It is rarely used to protect victims or even the state from serious harm.  In this case, it is the reputation of the Israeli police, one of the most corrupt in the western world, that is being protected.  Instead of learning the ugly truth about this case, Israelis will be prevented from hearing it.  They will have to find their way to websites like this, not even written in their own language.  Perhaps an intrepid Israeli journalist might even publish the fact that I’ve spilled the beans here.  Though they might have to look over their shoulder in doing so, since the police will not take well to having their secrets spilled publicly.

H/t to Dena Shunra and for further assistance from a trusted source.

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{ 45 comments… add one }
  • Damien Flinter January 10, 2014, 2:29 AM

    Kosher Nostra??

  • Galit January 10, 2014, 4:50 AM

    There is an israeli website (in Hebrew) that published.
    חדשות מחלקה ראשונה – News1 – http://m.news1.co.il/ArticlePage.aspx?docid=89084&subjectid=3&AfterAdd=1

  • ben January 10, 2014, 5:14 AM

    Thank’s for posting this.

    I found this blog in the comments for hhaaretz’s story. Very interesting.

    Israel is on it’s definite way to becoming a middle east colombia. nothing but corruption and ganagters.

    • oren January 14, 2014, 11:01 AM

      yeah, yeah. The NAS is listening on (all) american
      citizens, a governor is casing a huge traffic jam for political
      reasons and a corrupt US congressman (Grim) – all recent news and
      Israel is the middle-east Columbia… As far as I remember, Israel
      is has the only functioning police in the region. Btw, this gag was
      requested by the state of Israel and meant to prevent police
      officers from spinning the story their own way while they (the
      police officers) are under investigation.

  • moshe January 10, 2014, 5:29 AM

    It is just fantastic, how you take a story of American corruption and make it into a post against Israel. Then, do you have an argument to base your claim that Israel Police is one of the most corrupted police forces (e.g., relative to the American)? Finally, improve your Hebrew before you give a picture of a gag request, NOT by the police (but, in fact, AGAINST the police, as anyone who can read Hebrew would understand), or quote a Ha’aretz article (which does not say “exactly” what you wrote).
    Again, you prove that (i) that you’re a great source of information, (ii) doesn’t understand what really is going on, (iii) your just hate Israel.

  • Oui January 10, 2014, 5:36 AM

    FBI Investigation Targeting a Big Fish In Sea of Galilee

    (The Forward) Aug. 23, 2012 – FBI agents came around asking questions of some members of Congress after the tour of 30 Republican lawmakers, sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, as the offshoot is known. But as it turns out, the FBI was after bigger fish than Yoder.

    Their probe, according to several reports, was aimed at another participant in the delegation, Republican Michael Grimm of New York. Grimm, a subject of federal investigation into his campaign financing, continued from Israel to another privately sponsored trip, to nearby Cyprus. President Panayiotis “Peter” Papanicolaouof the group sponsoring that visit, the Cyprus Federation of America, was arrested in June on corruption charges [FBI file]. Until the arrest, Grimm had failed to file a required report to Congress documenting the sponsored visit. He filed an amended report doing so just one day after the arrest.

    For Grimm, public focus on the visit to Israel and the FBI investigation came at a time of other troubling news. Ofer Biton, one of his top fundraisers, was arrested for immigration fraud on August 17. The arrest of Biton, who was also once a prominent aide to Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, a controversial Israeli kabbalist, was widely viewed as an attempt to pressure Biton into testifying against Grimm.

    The Sea of Galilee incident also highlighted the major role played by the AIEF in cultivating a pro-Israel Congress by taking lawmakers to the Holy Land on fully funded VIP missions.

    A glance at the congressmen’s agenda for the tour, provided to the Forward by the organizers, sheds light on the content injected into these junkets. In an event-packed six-day excursion, lawmakers met with Israel’s president, prime minister and opposition leader. They received briefings from top military brass and were taken on tours of the country’s borders, emphasizing what the itinerary described as “strategic” lessons and briefings. Organizers made sure to include a meeting with Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited rule over parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

  • yankel January 10, 2014, 6:52 AM

    “a senior cabinet minister” – such circumspect language is not what you’ve accustomed us to, Richard…
    Thanks, all the same, for shedding some light onto this murky cesspit.

    • Richard Silverstein January 10, 2014, 12:35 PM

      Today’s post breaks open that part of the story. I didn’t have the name yesterday.

  • Peter Belmont January 10, 2014, 6:57 AM

    Terrific story. “Kosher Nostra” indeed. (Did the FBI taps come from NSA or what?)

  • Michael Anatol January 10, 2014, 10:23 AM

    Being one of those Israelis that have no choice but to find out about this story (and others) here in a foreign language, I would like to thank you for your publication.
    I would also like to add the inseparable response of the Israeli Police to Haaretz’s questions, that they would not regard them since the conduct of this newspaper doesn’t stand within the basic standards of fair, professional journalism and is characterized in biased coverage. Haaretz newspaper chooses to ignore the principals of fair coverage, according to the Israeli Police, and from the journalism ethics committee’s instructions on charges of ‘fact verification’, ‘objectivity’, ‘error corrections’…
    They also claim that they have turned to these drastic measures, basically just refusing to talk to a well known and important newspaper, because as they claim the newspaper is covering them in a biased way, and all former attempts to negotiate a common dialogue, “fair and professional”, have failed.

    This isn’t the first time that the police have responded this way to haaretz, that causes great concerns.
    Simply put, the Israeli police is ignoring haaretz as a punitive measure because they don’t like the way they are covered.

  • Alon January 10, 2014, 11:38 AM

    It is pretty harsh statement:”…the Israeli police, one of the most corrupt in the western world..” ! can you give any reference to that ?

    • Richard Silverstein January 11, 2014, 3:45 AM

      @ Alon: Google “Israeli police” here and you’ll find scores of posts about the incompetency, corruption and brutality of the Israeli police. Mainly read Eyal Niv’s catalogue of evil which I translated here a few years ago. It’s brilliant. Even a Rand study commissioned by pro-Israel funders found the Israeli police to be woeful (though it couched the criticism a bit more respectfully than I do).

      • Alon January 11, 2014, 9:00 AM

        Richard,
        Sorry, but the links are either not working or no convincing at all ! I will add to that the actually the Israeli police is not corrupted at all. Even in western standards the Israel police does not suffer from a problem of corruption. True, there are other problems with the force – but they are in the same extant you can find in NY finest or in London’d bobbys. No more, no less.

        Actually I have to agree with Gal, siting are stating incorrect sentence could really hurt your credibility.

        • Richard Silverstein January 11, 2014, 7:52 PM

          @ Alon: You’ve violated a basic rule here. You’ve offered an opinion as fact while offering absolutely no proof for the claim. Therefore, everything you wrote in your comment is unfounded opinion & will be treated as such.

          Cut out the back & forth as well. In fact, the more commenters engage in back-patting the more it appears your hasbara efforts here are coordinated.

          I think I’ve just uncovered yet another part of hasbara protocol. Commenter A argues against the supposedly anti-Israel view of the blog author. Commenter B chimes in and specifically mentions Commenter A by name and endorses his opinion. Commenter C does virtually the same. Thus it appears there is a groundswell of support for the pro-Israel stance. When all there is is a conspiracy between three jerk/trolls who’ve coordinated their assault. Pathetic & transparent.

          • Alon January 12, 2014, 2:00 AM

            Richard,
            You are actually correct with your criticism, as I failed to provide any of supporting evidence and reference to my claims. In the future I will try to provide accurate and solid references.

            Secondly, last time I looked at the mirror I did not spotted a troll or a jerk, but rather a person who seek logic and common sense in the world around him. Just for the record, I think the revelation you have posted in your blog sounds convincing and accurate as much as I can judge, and I concur with most of the claims. BUT one of the sentences/claims you wrote “…the Israeli police, one of the most corrupt in the western world…”, sound a bit far fetch, as such I asked for some references.

            You have provided me with two references. The first one was from the RAND institute. reading the RAND report one can find no reference to corruption, specifically not a single comparison to other police forces in the western world. Hence the RAND report, which focus on the police’s Image perceive by the public, does not support your claim.

            The second reference, Eyal Clyne blog, the linked link you provided is broken (http://english.eyalclyne.com/2010/11/09/quis-custodiet-ipsos-custodes/) hence I could not read the post. I also tried to search in the blog’s Hebrew section as well but failed to find anything relevant. I could not find any kind of comparison to other police forces in the world. Moreover while you mentioned that the RAND report could be biased, surly you are aware that Eyal’s blog is actually a stage to advance his political agenda. True, Eyal does give lots of samples for police brutality, but again, the question is that : is it more corrupted from other western police ? I could not find any evidence to this specific claim.

            As such, I am still not convince the Israeli police is one of the corrupted police forces in western word, and I would not mind to get convince about it (actually I would be sad to learn about it), if that is the case.

            In a personal note, grieve claims that are not substantially proven, could harm/impair the overall message, even if it is correct.

          • Richard Silverstein January 12, 2014, 4:01 AM

            @ Alon: The Rand report makes very clear that the image of the Israeli police is abysmal and this is for good reason: it is corrupt, brutal, incompetent.

            Here is a full English translation of the original Hebrew post. Here’s the original Hebrew.

            I did not say Eyal Niv’s article compared Israel’s police force to other western police forces. You’re being far too literal-minded in your demand for evidence. Niv’s article proved abundantly that Israel’s police was entirely corrupt, savage, homophobic, sexist & violent. I know police forces in other places both in the U.S. and elsewhere. I know their bad points and good. Just as an example, we have a particularly inept force here in Seattle that makes a habit of murdering indigent and homeless men who are mentally troubled. It’s earned our police department a federal monitor. That’s how bad it is. Regardless, the Seattle police are nowhere near what I’ve read about the Israeli police. Not even close.

            As for Niv’s alleged “political agenda,” what would that be? To inform people about the misdeeds of the police? To show people the truth, events that actually happened and which he documents? That’s evidence of a political agenda? In that case, Florence Nightangale and Mother Teresa must’ve had political agendas too.

            If you live in Israel then you are used to your police and may not have much in the way of comparison. I do. They are just plain bad. Worse than bad.

  • Gal January 10, 2014, 1:17 PM

    “This is how the system works in Israel. If you’re big enough, powerful enough–as Michael Grimm is–you can bend the system for your benefit. ”

    We have a past president that for having sex with someone reporting to him – sits in Jail after he was thrown out from office (and all his privileges cancelled for life).
    Now – let’s reflect on how the US justice worked in a similar case? hmm… not that theoretical example.

    Funny you could have said the same sentence by switching Israel with US in the above (and adapting the name of the ‘powerful’ US person).

    I think drawing conclusion from one example will not get you far.

    p.s. am not familiar with the specific case above, and my statement doesn’t reflect on it from good to bad, but your biased conclusion make me hesitant even to buy into the facts you bring (apologies if you were accurate on this, you just didn’t earn enough credibility on my side to justify it).

    • Richard Silverstein January 11, 2014, 3:43 AM

      @ Gal: You haven’t quite portrayed things accurately. Katsav wasn’t accused of “having sex” with a subordinate. He was accused of RAPING her. And others as well. The prosecutor was willing to plead the case down to a pitifully minimal charge when Katsav balked and decided stupidly to go to trial. If he hadn’t been so stupid he would never have been convicted & would already be out of jail. That’s the way justice works for the powerful. The only reason Katsav failed is he didn’t play ball.

      As for Clinton, he had oral intercourse with an intern in the White House. No matter how stupid the act was on Clinton’s part, he didn’t rape anyone. He was impeached for his acts, though not convicted. His presidency & reputation was irreparably damaged even though he didn’t go to prison. Here in America we don’t usually imprison people for having consensual sex. But we do imprison people for rape.

      • Gal January 11, 2014, 4:03 AM

        you miss quite a few points:

        We treat any sex between a person and someone reporting to it as rape. Regardless if was ‘only Oral’ or not.
        The ‘deal’ with the prosecutor to which you refer was for our president to plead ‘Guilty’ and to get kicked out of office. At the last minute, because the ‘deal’ was not such a bargain as you imply – the president decided to go to trial – and lost (and sits in jail).
        Yours not only that sworn perjury, not only that he had sex (yes, oral) with someone he employed (and thus her ‘free will’ is not exactly ‘free’), kept his office, and continue to enjoy the benefits, and basically keeps smiling.

        The Israeli police, that you so quickly judge as the most corrupted in the western world (you just lose credibility by this in my opinion) did very well, and not for the first time that the Israeli justice system (both police and justice dept.) is investigating key political figures (e.g., Mr. Olmert who also had to retire from his last position as PM due to such allegation).

        If at all, I would say that the US system has something to learn from Israel rather than the other way around. Really.

        • Richard Silverstein January 11, 2014, 8:03 PM

          @ Gal: YOU miss quite a few points.

          Monica Lewinsky did not “report” her sexual encounter with the president and never filed any complaint against Bill Clinton, whereas numerous current and former employees of Katsav accused him of rape. Under American law there must be an accusation and crime proved in order to convict someone including a president of a crime. Thus Clinton was never accused of any sexual crime since Lewinsky was a consenting adult. And yes, her choice whether to complain or not to the police was made “of her free will.” If the law held that she did not have free will in consenting to oral sex (as you state), Clinton could’ve been accused of a crime whether she complained or not. That didn’t happen.

          As for the Katsav deal not being the ‘bargain’ I implied, it WAS a bargain compared to the 8 yrs in prison he received on conviction.

          As for the fine fettle of the Israeli police, I’m convinced that Israeli police investigations have little or nothing to do with actual crime. They make up charges out of whole cloth. Even when they do manufacture cases, whether prosecutors pursue charges seems equally based on whim or who has the most political sway. The record of prosecution of Israeli police and prosecutors in corruption, sex crimes and any number of other serious categories is pathetic. Do a Google search for evidence which easily proves my claim.

          And don’t come back here arguing this point until you prove you’ve read Eyal Niv’s post and the Rand study to which I link in my comment above. Further, if you come back with unsupported opinion in any subsequent comment in this thread it will be your last one in the thread. Opinions unsupported by evidence violate comment rules here.

          • Gal January 11, 2014, 11:26 PM

            again, very partial facts on your part:
            In the KATZAV case, just so that you have your facts – the victim was not the one to complain, but rather president KATZAV got to the Government Legal counsel with a complaint that she was trying to blackmail him (I assume on that background), and only that opened the thread the way it went.

            If the US system needs the victim (rape or other) to complain while there are clear indications of the crime, I would say your system should be vastly improve. Maybe then you won’t need Hollywood to be full of movies of Government corruption nor youtube full with (US) police violence (and I think US has a decent police force, but you will find less than optimal behavior in any force, yes – even yours).

            In the KATZAV case, the police investigated, and made one clear recommendation: trial, and the Justice dept. after many deliberations came with the bargain which was quite harsh and a precedence (given that the US failed to provide us with a decent precedence). Most of the people of Israel are happy that the bargain didn’t go through and that a full trial did take place. Police was flawless in this case (not necessarily always), and proves one important point:
            Police is not afraid to investigate and recommend a bill of indictment for powerful political figures (be it the president, be it the PM (like Mr. Olmert that in the meantime was exonerated from most accusations), and various ministers (e.g., Ramon, Deryii, and quite a few others).
            Police that is tied to the Government, and give them a shield of protection – is probably corrupt and doesn’t provide the basic principle of equality before the law.

            I state even stronger than before, while there is what to improve in our police (and I can add: any police around the world), your system has a few steps to develop before it gets to ours.

            You keep correcting aspects of the story (like, whether it was the police that asked to keep this from public, while the document if you could read it implies it was the ‘police investigation unit’ in the justice dept., you also correct the name of the minister you think involve, so key aspects of your story keep changing – and yet you are convinced that Pinto was not involve in any bribe, and this conviction is based on … your being with him all the time ?!).

            I really have no problem if you decide this is my last thread here. I already got my opinion that when you say ‘promoting Israel democracy’ you and I understand democracy in possibly very different ways.

          • Richard Silverstein January 12, 2014, 3:03 AM

            @ Gal: I don’t think America has any need of lessons from Israel. We already emulate your horrid policies of targeted murder, racial profiling, invasive spying, cyberwarfare, etc. To suggest that we lower our standards even further by allowing police to create crimes when there is no complainant is really beyond belief. That really is a police state you describe.

            The comment rules insist that you stay on topic. That means that references to the deficiencies of American justice and to Hollywood movies, which are offered to deflect attention from the subject at hand, Israel, are off topic.

            The police regularly are refuse to file charges against the powerful. Especially in cases involving sexual abuse and national security. You’ve mentioned a few that they charged and convicted but not the thousands they didn’t. I’ve covered some of those cases here in this blog. Curious you didn’t bother to read them.

            They are also only too eager to railroad those who violate national security norms, but who should have whistleblower protection like Anat Kamm.

            You keep correcting aspects of the story

            Yes, I do. That is what bloggers do. We report a story and as we find new information we update it. If we find we published incomplete or even wrong information, we update that too. I do this transparently so that readers, including you, know what I’ve done and why.

            you are convinced that Pinto was not involve in any bribe

            I never said this. In fact, I believe that Pinto is as crooked as a stick. Undoubtedly, he’s offered bribes, undoubtedly bribes have been offered to him. But as to whether he offered Bracha a bribe, that’s extremely dubious. Bracha received funds from Pinto long before the incidents described here. The police are trying to argue that while the other funds Bracha received weren’t bribes, this one was. That seems extremely hard to prove legally.

            Finally, you wrongly say that I state Pinto wasn’t involved in bribery. Since you read Hebrew, if you read the links in my post, you see that this is the view of the two articles I summarized, one from News1 and the other by respected reporter, Amir Zohar. They stated these beliefs about Pinto. If you have a problem with this you migth take it up with them. I didn’t invent this idea.

          • Gal January 12, 2014, 7:37 AM

            “I don’t think America has any need of lessons from Israel. We already emulate your horrid policies of targeted murder, racial profiling, invasive spying, cyberwarfare, etc. To suggest that we lower our standards even further by allowing police to create crimes when there is no complainant is really beyond belief. That really is a police state you describe.”
            Not sure how is the teacher and who is the pupil.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism
            Even if US is emulating Israel, does that make it okay? hmm

            “The comment rules insist that you stay on topic. That means that references to the deficiencies of American justice and to Hollywood movies, which are offered to deflect attention from the subject at hand, Israel, are off topic.”
            When you say that Israel police is one of the most corrupted in the western world, comparison to other police is right on topic. Don’t you think?

            “That is what bloggers do. We report a story and as we find new information we update it. If we find we published incomplete or even wrong information, we update that too. I do this transparently so that readers, including you, know what I’ve done and why.”
            I actually respect this, but – while it is perfectly fine for you to state ‘facts’ and then correct them as you discover the facts are somewhat different, you find anything that your commentators put without what you consider proof as reason for banning. Not the level of tolerance and openness I would have expected from a blog that its true nature is to nurture constructive dialog that promote democracy (again, at least in my potentially naive understanding of the term).

            I’m trying to be respectful in all my answers, and to avoid any doubt, I’m a true admirer of the US legacy. I’m against any witch hunt, and don’t think any system is perfect. There is always room for improvement (and that holds on both sides of the ocean).

          • Richard Silverstein January 12, 2014, 6:19 PM

            @ Gal: References to McCarthyism are completely off-topic.

            comparison to other police is right on topic. Don’t you think?

            No, not unless you’re bringing specific evidence that proves the Israeli police are less corrupt than other western police agencies. Bringing evidence of Hollywood movies about corrupt cops has nothing to do with proving or disproving Israel’s level of corruption relative to other nations. Not to mention that a Hollywood film is proof of nothing in the real world.

          • Gal January 12, 2014, 11:36 PM

            [comment deleted–stop beating a dead horse; move on to another thread]

          • Alon January 12, 2014, 11:48 PM

            Hi Gal, Well said. I think Richard is doing some excellent job, but he tarnish some of it by real exaggerated claims. Too bad this may spin-off the real problems.

          • Gal January 13, 2014, 12:30 AM

            Agreed Alon.
            I really do believe we need to improve, but the harsh biased statements demonizing Israel just achieve the opposite in my opinion. Pity.

          • Richard Silverstein January 13, 2014, 2:45 AM

            @ Alon: The next time you or Gal try this back & forth crap I’m going to delete the comment. I asked you nicely not to do this. Now, I’m being sterner. Respect this.

          • Eli January 14, 2014, 2:28 PM

            ” I’m a true admirer of the US legacy” – you mean probably
            Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, its role in the war in
            Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and most recently the civil
            war in Syria. Or maybe the two Japan explosions.

          • Gal January 12, 2014, 8:10 AM

            “They are also only too eager to railroad those who violate national security norms, but who should have whistleblower protection like Anat Kamm.”

            >> I missed that one when I first read.
            >> I wonder what do you think will happen if ever Mr. Snowden gets to US soil?
            >> Is it also just because the way dreadful Israel treated Anat Kamm (by the way,
            >> her sentence was 3.5 years in prison, and might get out soon after deducting one third for good behavior).
            >> What you think would be Snowden’s sentence – 3.5 years too (taking Israel’s horrific example)?
            >> Again, the comparison is perfectly due, since Israel police/justice is one of the worst in the Western
            >> world, according to some sources, so we can evaluate this by comparison. A valid approach.

            Again, I’m far from being defensive.
            I think the Israeli police has a lot to improve (and the same goes to any police in the world).

  • jj January 11, 2014, 5:45 AM

    “there are far worse criminals who attempt to exploit the financial success of these rabbis.”

    Hagonev Mi’ganav patur, no?

    Surely a creature such as Pinto – who steals from the poor to make himself rich – is worse than those stealing from him, no?

  • Natalie Davidson January 11, 2014, 9:20 AM

    Hi Richard,

    I really appreciated the post, which satisfied my curiosity after I read Haaretz’ obscure reference yesterday to the scandal brewing in the Israeli police. I am Israeli, live in Israel, and like most people here I don’t have too high an image of either the police, the Orthodox rabbis (for whom the word “mafia” is exactly to the point) or Netanyahu. Of course I don’t know your sources so I don’t yet “believe” what you write, but in the meantime it gives me something realistic (if only because the story is so convoluted, it’s unlikely someone would have made it up) to chew on before the real story breaks publicly. It’s really a shame however that you use gross exaggerations to characterise the Israeli police – as one of the most corrupt police forces in the world. You don’t really have any way of knowing that, and the competition for that title around the world is stiff. More importantly, you don’t need that kind of statement in order to report on this story or to make the story meaningful, so all you’re achieving is alienating readers, convincing the skeptics you’re too simplistic in your analysis. There are many Israelis and Jews who have trouble hearing any criticism of Israel (other than at home in Israel and in Hebrew). When critics portray Israeli officials in a simplistic and unverified way, you alienate these “nationalists”‘ instead of using the news as an opportunity to open their eyes. well that’s my 2 cents.

    • Richard Silverstein January 11, 2014, 4:47 PM

      @ Natalie Davidson:

      It’s really a shame however that you use gross exaggerations to characterise the Israeli police – as one of the most corrupt police forces in the world.

      I never said that & you must read what I write carefully and characterize it accurately. I said it was one of the most corrupt in the “western world.” ANd so it is. And that phrase is entirely different that the false words you put in my mouth. People do this regularly here so I’m being more stern than I might otherwise be since I believe you made an honest mistake. Others do what you did much less innocently.

      And I certainly do have ways of knowing my claim is true because I’ve been documenting the abuses for years, have written scores of posts about them, and linked to external evidence in Israeli media, blogs, & independent experts who confirm it.

      As for “alienating readers,” my goal isn’t to hold people’s hands as they deal with this subject. I’m not spoonfeeding or coating bad facts in honey to make them go down easier.

      My goal is to state the truth as I see it. As for Israeli “nationalists,” I think they’re mostly unreachable unless they understand there are essentially two nations, not one, in Israel.

      • Natalie Davidson January 12, 2014, 2:56 AM

        Thanks Richard for the response. You are right I didn’t read you carefully on the western world as opposed to the world. Still, to say it’s one of the most corrupt police forces in the western world is a wild conjecture. You may have been studying the Israeli police for years, but as far as I can tell, not the other police forces in the western world. Anyway this is a field where we know very little. As to holding people’s hands: of course that’s not your goal. Still, I assume you want to retain credibility. More importantly, people who write on this subject have a responsibility not to let the public discussion degenerate into gross generalisations and simplifications, black and white portrayals of the parties involved. Because that’s not the “truth”, and because no dialogue can follow from that.

        • Richard Silverstein January 12, 2014, 3:52 AM

          @ Natalie Davidson: The level of corruption of the Israeli police force is not “wild conjecture,” but a well-documented fact. Just today, in an article on the Pinto-Bracha story, a respected Haaretz reporter said of the police:

          “It is based on a culture of lies and cover-up to its very roots.”

  • two January 11, 2014, 12:05 PM

    The fbi should not let those Israeli police officers to set a foot in the u.s.a

  • Yossi January 11, 2014, 12:58 PM

    Gal,
    You are correct, I also think that the Israeli law is more “correct”,
    I also think that Richard fails (again?) with his bias against Israel

  • Oui January 11, 2014, 10:47 PM

    I posted this link in a previous diary you wrote on Ben-Gurion. It’s worthwhile to listen to the founder of Israel and its ideals. I found it breathtaking, his journey with the Zionist dream, envisioned in the period from his arrival in 1906 to Palestine under Ottoman rule. Somewhere Israel derailed to become a colonial power to its very own detriment IMHO. The people of Israel Ben-Gurion envisioned will never be achieved due to corruption of power.

    David Ben-Gurion Interview In Negev – 1956 [Audio]

    Interview with former Israel Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion with Edward R. Murrow completed on Feb 3, 1956 at Sde Boker kibbutz.

  • Simon January 11, 2014, 11:48 PM

    Here’s the link to the English version of the article on Haaretz mentioned above: http://htz.li/1gvFChh

  • Daniel January 12, 2014, 6:50 AM

    Richard, I am thankful for your publication of the story. This is good journalism.
    I am not sure the Israeli police is very corrupt. The police has been clasisically paying very little to juniors, drafting very low level of workforce, and over the long run, it got filled up with a lot of, let’s say, not the brains brains around. As a result, it is quite incopetent when it gets to complicated crimes. There are many exceptions, though of smart and motivated people, who are mostly promoted, but rarely seem to make it to the top, as the top officers are appointment with deep governmental involvmment. The police reports to the government, who is run by politicians, who prefer a police that does not investigate politicians. They have been successful lately, but if you look over the last 40 years, the politicians have not been alll too successful in preventing police investigations against corruption, and the ones not converting those investigations into trials was usually the state prosecution.
    What I do find highly disturbing in your report is the infiltration of organized crime into the goverment of Israel and into the top ranks of the police. Some infiltration has always been there (and probably in most police forces in the world), but what you report here is very, very disturbing.

  • gary January 13, 2014, 6:10 PM

    do you think this story will ever be made public in israel?
    what is the name of the corrupt minister who is under investigation?

  • Dan D. January 14, 2014, 8:48 AM

    Richard, as an Israeli I’m very thankful for your post and
    doing it while there is a gag. I think you should have someone
    translating it Hebrew, so everyone in Israel can reach it and next
    time the police won’t ask for a gag. I’m sure there are more
    stories we don’t know about our police. (Gal/Alon.. you know
    already that there were a few police guys convicted for acting like
    a mafia gang..) In Hebrew, many people write the word police as
    משטרה, and many others write it משטרע, the last two characters
    meaning ‘bad’. Meaning a ‘bad police’. this is a common impression
    many Israelis have, including myself about our police. I do believe
    that our police is corrupted. Israel deserves a better police
    force, trained and loyal. whoever is involved, I hope would get
    enough years in jail so it may teach others not to follow him.
    Thank you Richard for letting me getting a better perspective about
    this story. I’m interested to know who is the ‘minister’ involved
    and who is the special person who came to Israel today with more
    hints about what happened there. Dan

  • Guy January 14, 2014, 11:21 AM

    Thanks for the post and the coverage. However, I beg to
    differ re the Israeli police. It’s not one of the most corrupt in
    the western world. It’s not really corrupt as much as it is
    incompetent and impotent. Police officers are not corrupt, they are
    ignorant and illiterate.

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