The Arab news agency Maan seems to have some source within the Israeli media which is feeding them information about the Azmi Bishara case:
The same [Israeli newspaper] source revealed that Dr Bishara was interrogated over $ 5-million which he allegedly received recently via moneychangers in Jerusalem. In this regard, police have arrested two moneychangers in Jerusalem.
Informed sources close to the NDA [Balad] denied reports about the missing $5 million. The sources claimed the reports are part of a campaign against the NDA and its chairman who is well-known for his nationalistic and patriotic stance.
In a telephone call with Ma’an, Palestinian member of Israeli Knesset, Dr Jamal Zahalka, denied the story and warned the media of “falling prey to false allegations targeting the reputation of Dr Azmi Bishara.”
Meanwhile, Israeli security sources stated that Bishara left Israel after learning that the Israeli security intends to interrogate him on the basis of a telephone call he had with Hezbollah. The call was tapped by Israeli security during the war in Lebanon last July.
I’d like to know more about the Israeli source for this story before attaching any credibility to it. But if there IS any credibility, I’m concerned over the wording regarding the “missing $5-million.” Is Bishara charged with embezzling or merely receiving it? If he received it, was it used or to be used for his party? If the latter, I’d be willing to fight that charge. Where else is Balad supposed to find funds to fight its campaign for Arab political equality? Will the Israeli government support them? Will poor Israeli Arabs themselves find the money to do so? Besides, before we talk about Balad’s or Bishara’s corruption shouldn’t we talk about Ariel Sharon’s and his sons’ similarly corrupt behavior? What about Shas? What political party hasn’t acted corruptly in financing its activities?
And as for the call to Hezbollah, it all depends on what was said during the call and whether the Shin Bet’s characterization of the call is accurate and provable.
Finally, let’s make no mistake. No matter what happened, this case reveals that the Shin Bet sees Bishara as a real threat to Israel. He is a charismatic political figure and forceful representative of his people’s interests. Such political figures are always viewed as threats by Israel. There are always attempts to destroy them. We also know from the Shin Bet itself as reported by Haaretz that it has declared outright war against the Israeli Arab nationalist parties.
If this attempt succeeds, it will not only be Bishara or his constituents who lose. It will be the entire state of Israel because the possibility of mutual coexistence of Jews and Arabs within a single state will have been destroyed. There are Israeli rightists who would welcome the opportunity to finally clarify the Jewish exclusivist nature of Israel. But they are dead wrong in believing that this would allow Israel to gain some semblance of normalcy or social equilibrium. It will damage Israel’s internal psyche deeply AND mark Israel forever in the world’s eyes as a failed state. Not failed in the sense that Somalia is a failed state. But failed in the sense that it refused to live up to the values inscribed in its own Declaration of Independence as propounded by its founding fathers and mothers. And failed to live up to the spirit of modern Zionism as espoused by figures like Ahad Ha’am. It would be a body blow to the Zionist dream.
In the meantime, I laugh a bitter laugh when I read Ynetnews’ coverage of Ehud Olmert’s speech at Yad Vashem on Yom Ha-Shoah:
“Here, in the State of Israel, we shall build a society that is the complete opposite of the agenda of evil that sought to destroy us. We shall uproot any form of discrimination, any shred of racism, extremism and xenophobia. This is our historic duty and the call of Israel’s conscience,” Olmert added.
He lies almost as well as George Bush. Or should I say he lies almost as shamelessly, since neither he nor Bush lie particularly well?
Hat tip to Sol Salbe for the Maan link.