UPDATE: Haaretz reports that Weinstein and Cohen were not arrested, but questioned.
After reporting here that Israeli serial sanctions-busters and arms dealers, Avichai Weinstein and Eli Cohen were being investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Greek security services for attempting to send spare parts for F-4 fighter jets to Iran, yesterday the Daily Telegraph followed up with its own report which quoted Tikun Olam.
This induced Israeli police to arrest Weinstein and Cohen a few hours ago. My Israeli source conveyed this message from the security services:
“We realized that keeping the gag only gives this bastard Silverstein more traffic and more publicity, and now he was even quoted by The Daily Telegraph! This is certainly not what we want, and so we decided it would be better to allow the Israeli public to read the arms dealers’ names in the local media, and not in Tikun Olam.”
It’s most unfortunate that it should take my exposure of such unnecessarily secret information to get Israeli law enforcement to do its job. However, we must remember that the arms dealers have been investigated before, but never charged, convicted or imprisoned for their flaunting of international sanctions. The question remains whether they engaged in this trade at the behest of the security services. If so, what was the purpose? If there was no collusion, why didn’t the Israelis intervene before the material got to Greece, where it could easily have been forwarded to Iran without DHS intervention.
Weinstein and Cohen have operated under a number of different corporate names. Their current iteration is Rebuilt Spare Parts (RSP). Ironically, RSP has procured federal government contracts! Given that the corporate owners have been serial violators of Iran sanctions, why would the government even allow them to bid? Thanks to reader, Oui, for pointing that out.
After attempting to elicit a comment from the Department of Homeland Security, the best I could muster was this e-mailed statement from Brian Montgomery of ICE:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) does not confirm or deny any possible active investigation.
Considering that everybody and their brother (and sister) knows there is such an investigation, the statement doesn’t go very far.
Yeshivaworld reveals that Weinstein and Cohen are members of the Permishlan Chassidic sect. Which raises the question about the relationship between these particular ultra-Orthodox Jews and the State itself. There are such sects which are anti-Zionist and refuse to recognize Israeli sovereignty. As such, it would be easier for these arms dealers to traffic in contraband, since they would see the State as an evil entity which usurps divine will (some ultra-Orthodox believe only God and the coming of the messiah will cause the rebuilding of the Temple and revival of the Jewish State). This may serve as part of the reasoning behind the refusal to prosecute them as well. Presumably, doing so would arouse the ire of a massive voting bloc of Haredi constituents.
Haaretz has been pretty much asleep at the switch in reporting this story. Today, in the first story in which they named the arms dealers (linked above) they called them “Avichai Cohen” & “Eli Weinstein.” None of the Israeli media reports I’ve read have credited Tikun Olam with breaking the gag and exposing the identity of these arms smugglers. If you’d like to consider giving your own personal credit for this effort, give a donation via WePay or Paypal links in the sidebar.
Note: My domain registrar suffered a massive DOS attack earlier today. From what I can tell, my site was down for very brief periods over a six hour span. I apologize for any inconvenience it may’ve caused.