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12 Tishrei 5761 - October 11, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly
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Opinion & Comment
Public Probes and Private Probes

by S. Yisraeli

Globes recently published an article entitled: "The One Israel party Smoke Screen" about the immunity the left- wing enjoys in the normally acerbic newspapers of the Jewish state.

The paper's political correspondent, Zvi Lavi asks: "How come not even a pinch of the police investigation of the Ehud Barak--NPO's affair was leaked to the media?

They publicized the investigation of United Torah Judaism MKs and those of the Center party, who were suspected of violating the elections and party subsidy laws. But all that is small fry in comparison with the big scoop.

"What's going on in the Police Department?" Lavi asks. "Why don't they investigate MK's close to the Prime Minister, as they do those from other parties?"

Lavi goes on to relate an astonishing story: A few weeks ago UTJ MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni was summoned to the Police Investigations Department in Bat Yam on the suspicion that he had violated some of the election Laws. This included the conducting of election propaganda by an independant body, which the police suspected had been promoted on behalf of the elections headquarters of UTJ.

The investigator told Rabbi Gafni, that MKs from One Israel were being investigated on election issues at that very same time in other rooms. Rabbi Gafni indeed heard a familiar voice from a nearby room, but didn't attach any importance to the incident.

His investigation ended, and before he had caught his breath, he was bombarded by telephone calls from journalists, who wanted to know what had taken place at the investigation.

Rabbi Gafni was piqued. After all, he hadn't been arrested, wasn't a suspect, and was even promised that his formal investigation wouldn't be publicized.

He called the Minister of Internal Security, Shlomo Ben Ami, from One Israel, who promised to check out the matter. The following day he replied that this was not a case of leakage but of deliberate publicity. "For your good," Ben Ami told him, "in order to prevent damaging rumors.

"Great," Rabbi Gafni replied. "But I wasn't the only one. If the police are worried about MKs under investigation, why wasn't there a word about your colleagues from One Israel?"

He quoted what he heard from the investigator, and what he had heard himself. He then asked if there was no smoke screen with respect to the investigation of the Barak NPOs.

Ben Ami fell silent. He seemed shocked, Rabbi Gafni recalled. After a moment, he told me that he had to investigate the issue, and promised that he would reply as soon as possible." Rabbi Gafni is still waiting.

Gidi Weitz, of the Jerusalem weekly Kol Ha'Ir relates that the police are trying to fog the investigation of the NPO affair.

But this is a rather unfamiliar precedent. In general, there is no investigation without a leak. This time, the cameras weren't invited to photograph Barak's colleagues as they arrived at the police station. "Even Moshe Gaon, Barak's spin doctor, wasn't photographed."

"Part of the ugly conspiracy of silence," Weitz explains,"is not reporting a breakthrough. The top ranking associates in the affair still haven't been summoned for an investigation, and the police are only making partial use of the material in their possession."

The next NPO affair about which the newspaper reports, concerns an NPO named Alternative. This NPO's avowed aim is to assist in the absorption of new immigrants. In truth, though, the organization circulated election pamphlets for Barak, and subsidized various election activities.

The heads of the NPO were investigated by the police, and most of them cooperated. But wonder of wonders, despite everything, two weeks ago the Support Committee of the Immigration and Absorption Ministry decided to allocate NIS 200,000 to that NPO.

Weitz writes that the Absorption Minister, Yuli Tamir who was an associate in other NPOs which acted on behalf of Barak's election, doesn't see anything was wrong.

Her ministry explained that the NPO received the subsidy for an institute for the training of immigrants, and that the NPO promised not to subsidize other activities with that money.

Weitz coments: "How is it possible that an NPO which already broke the law has received more money? It's not too clear. Perhaps without any connection, the office of the Prime Minister hinted to the husband of the State Prosecutor, Edna Arbel, that he should forego his appointment to the position of a director of the Zim company.

"Why? Perhaps in order to prevent nefarious tongues from wagging about the connection between the ministry and the Prosecution."


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