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June 01, 2008

There Is Always Something

Uri Avnery asks why Ehud Olmert is suddenly engulfed in a giant corruption scandal:

A question presents itself: Why do these fatal scandals always break when a leader takes a step towards peace, or at least pretends to take a step towards peace?

I do not believe that there is a conspiracy. In general I don't tend to believe in conspiracies, though there are these, too.

But we have here, I believe, a more profound phenomenon. The main thrust of the current establishment is towards occupation, expansion and war. Therefore, when a corruption scandal concerns a leader moving in that direction, the scandal is smothered in its infancy. But when the scandal involves a leader who is making gestures in the direction of peace, the scandal reaches huge proportions.

That happened to Sharon on the eve of the dismantling of the Gaza Strip settlements. It is happening now to Olmert when he dares to speak about peace with Syria and the evacuation of the Golan settlements.

This is from All the King's Men, as the narrator Jack Burden talks to his boss the governor about the governor's wish for Burden to dig up dirt on a political opponent:

We clocked off five miles more, and I said, "But suppose there isn't anything to find?"

And the Boss said, "There is always something."

And I said, "Maybe not on the Judge."

And he said, "Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something."

There is always something. All politicians are guilty, somehow. But their guilt only become a scandal when they cross powerful interests. If politicians do what they're told, they're free to have as many affairs and take as many bags of cash as they want.

As Avnery says, this is a profound societal phenomenon. It's not a conspiracy anymore than it's a conspiracy when water runs downhill.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at June 1, 2008 12:46 PM

There IS "always something."

The only question is whether or not the opposition will use it.

Rightards will ALWAYS use it.

Posted by: woody, tokin librul at June 1, 2008 01:23 PM

I have some difficulty imagining Olmert taking steps towards peace.

Posted by: littlehorn at June 1, 2008 02:00 PM

There is - as always - more to it even than that.

Talansky was one of a group of investors who brought suit against Israel's ImageSat company. The case went to pretrial in April in NY, and the general gist of the dispute seems to be that the satellite images weren't being provided for use with (against? about?) Venezuela.

ImageSat (as far as I can tell) is a company with some sort of subsidiary relationship with Israel Aircraft Industries. The group of investors got mad at the company because - despite large investments made - they weren't given access to that company. Apparently, more than just the regular kind of investment was made. In other words, at least one of the investors had been Talansky, who had gone out of his way to pay Olmert's way in fancy hotels, upgrading him to first class travel, etc.

We know this because that's what Talansky told the Israel Police...

The case is being heard in New York as Wilson et al. vs. ImageSat. I don't see any criminal charges brought against Talansky and his group, despite the fact that they (or at least he) seem to have violated the the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA), which imposes criminal penalties on American enterprises that bribe officials of foreign governments.

Upgrading plane seats and paying hotel bills for a foreign politician (Olmert has been in Israeli politics since his twenties), not to mention handing him hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash for use in his election campaign seems like a pretty clear violation of the FCPA, doesn't it?

Posted by: EasyWind at June 1, 2008 02:39 PM

See also;
Rabbis: We persuaded Talansky to finger Olmert after he betrayed Israel

Posted by: Choog at June 1, 2008 03:15 PM

Going back a few years, I personally found it very curious that Bill Clinton's Monica problem burst out in a big way *the very week* he tried to pressure Israel's fanatic leadership to make meaningful concessions to the Palestinians.

We the unwashed masses will never know for sure, but I would not be surprised in the slightest if the American trash right decided to take on Clinton (with or without encouragement from the Israeli right wing) then and there to protect Israel's god given right to lebensraum.

Posted by: Turkey Turkey Turkey at June 1, 2008 05:15 PM


One more of the same, barkeep.

Posted by: donescobar at June 1, 2008 05:30 PM

Howard Hughes said best when speaking about Lyndon Johnson, " There's nothing lower than a politician that won't stay bought."

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 1, 2008 07:12 PM

To second Robert Weaver's comment: it's certainly conspiracy when blackmail is used. Intelligence agencies routinely use honeytraps to ensnare and blackmail randy politicians. Hoover kept copious files on his political enemies.

Who was Mega? We'll never know...

Posted by: Marvin at June 3, 2008 02:09 PM