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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

DEFEND FREE SPEECH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL LANCASHIRE - Telling the truth about why Israel is an Apartheid State is 'antisemitic'

If the Police State academics at East Lancashire University are right, then Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of the stalwarts of the Anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa is an 'anti-Semite' and should be banned

University Authorities Use IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism to Ban Israel Apartheid Week

Today the Jewish Chronicle reported that the University of Central Lancashire had cancelled Israel Apartheid Week.

A spokesperson for the university said “Debunking Misconceptions on Palestine" contravened the definition of antisemitism adopted by the government and was “unlawful”.



The University of Central Lancashire
The spokesperson went on to say that: “The UK government has formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s new definition of what constitutes antisemitism.

“We believe the proposed talk contravenes the new definition and furthermore breaches university protocols for such events, where we require assurances of a balanced view or a panel of speakers representing all interests.”

He added: “In this instance our procedures determined that the proposed event would not be lawful and therefore it will not proceed as planned.” 

Suffice to say this is another Zionist attack on free speech.  The IHRA definition of 'anti-Semitism' is not a legal definition but a political definition of anti-Semitism. See The Government's new definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ is an attempt to criminalise support for the Palestinians and opposition to Zionism

The fact is that Israel IS an apartheid state.  It rules over 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who have no vote or say in who their rulers are.  They co-exist with Jewish settlers who are subject to a different legal system entirely.

Israel itself is a state where Arabs are tolerated guests at best.  There is no Israeli nationality because Israel is a Jewish state, which means that all Jews can become nationals of the Jewish state.  Most areas of life, from land, housing, education, employment, the army are segregated.   If the Zionists want to argue about this fine, let them debate it.  The purpose of the IHRA definition of 'anti-Semitism' has nothing at all to do with anti-Semitism and everything to  do with support for Zionism and Israel.




The fact that Jeremy Corbyn, in what is fast becoming a double act, automatically gave Theresa May his support when she came out in favour of the IHRA definition, shows how much he has shifted to the Right since becoming Labour leader.  Not that it will help save him.

Below are some numbers and email address to which you can address your concerns to the East Lanchashire University authorities.

It is timely that tomorrow in Brighton, Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be holding a public meeting with Jackie Walker, who is suspended from the Labour Party for 'anti-Semitism', Michael Deas, former European Director of the Boycott National Committee and myself, also suspended from the Labour Party on bogus charges of 'anti-Semitism'.

General Enquiries:
Tel: +44 (0)1772 201 201

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Crooked Iain McNicol, Labour's General Secretary, Rides Again

McNicol refuses to discipline JLM’s Ella Rose, who threatened to ‘take out’ Jackie Walker

Ella Rose's threats - 'understandable' according to crooked McNicol
Iain 'crooked' McNicol turned a blind eye to threats of violence from Zionist Rose
 On 20th January I submitted a letter of complaint to Iain McNicol, Labour’s crooked General Secretary concerning the threats of violence by Ella Rose of the Jewish Labour Movement against Jackie Walker.  Jackie was suspended in September 2016 for ‘anti-Semitism’ after having been fitted up by the JLM after a ‘training session’ on ‘anti-Semitism’ at the Labour Party Annual Conference.
Unsurprisingly, despite receiving a formal acknowledgment, I received no other response from our crooked friend.  So I have sent him a second letter.

The idea that a group which is affiliated to the Israeli Labour Party is in any position to run anti-racist training is itself the height of parody.  It’s like asking a wife beater to run a woman’s refuge or appointing Count Dracula as head of the blood transfusion service! 
Jim Kennedy of Unite obtained the solicitor's letter
The ILP’s leader Isaac Herzog is no slouch when it comes to racism.  Herzog recently declared that his nightmare was waking up to find that Israel had a Palestinian Prime Minister and 61 Palestinian Members of Israel’s Knesset .  Who needs the Right when we have Isaac Herzog?  Herzog also recently declared that he wanted to dispel the false impression that the ILP were ‘Arab Lovers’ Herzog slammed for remark about ‘Arab lovers’To gauge the full import of these remarks just consider that someone had said their nightmare was to wake up and find Britain had a Jewish Prime Minister or that the Labour Party was not a ‘Jew lovers’ party.  The term ‘Jew lover’ and ‘N***** Lover’ used to be part of the language of the National Front and BNP.  The fact that it trips off the tongue of the head of Israeli Labour should be an indication of what Zionism and the JLM are really about.

Jackie and a number of other Jewish and non-Jewish anti-racists attended the JLM’s ‘training session’ which was secretly recorded and comments made by Jackie were twisted and distorted to make it appear that her comments were ‘anti-Semitic’.  You can read what it was that Jackie said here.
Last summer, when Jeremy Corbyn was standing for leader, McNicol was arranging the suspension of thousands of Labour Party members on the most bogus of pretexts such as someone posting that they liked the ‘fucking foo fighters’.  A hint of the word scab, traitor etc was guaranteed to get you suspended.  But when the JLM’s Director, the racist Ella Rose, threatened physical violence against a much older Black woman, she is pardoned by crooked Iain McNicol.
Solicitor's letter to Crooked McNicol p.1

Solicitor's letter to Crooked McNicol p.2

Solicitor's letter to Crooked McNicol p.3
Solicitor's letter to Crooked McNicol p.4
This is not, of course the first time Crooked McNicol has been accused of, well, being a crook.  In July 2016 McNicol was busy attempting to fix the Labour Party elections in order to ensure that Corbyn was kept off the ballot paper.  Unfortunately Corbyn, when he was re-elected leader, didn’t call for the dismissal of McNicol because of his treacherous and dishonest behaviour.  I use the word ‘dishonest’ advisedly.
Solicitors letter to Crooked McNicol saying he deliberately deceived Corbyn & McDonnell
In a solicitor’s letter sent on 11th July on behalf of Jim Kennedy of UNITE, McNicol was accused of ‘bad faith’.  It accused him of having gone to ‘great lengths to conceal your intentions from the leader and the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer’.  It informed him that as General Secretary ‘you have an obligation to uphold the rules of the Labour Party and not breach them .’   It said his behaviour in leaking information to the Press which he had kept from Jeremy Corbyn was a ‘potentially serious disciplinary matter.’  It went on to say that ‘You have an obligation as General Secretary to act in good faith’ and to act openly and transparently.  In particular the letter said that the National Committee meeting, which agreed that Corbyn could stand, had been called in a manner which ‘has all the hallmarks of anything but “open democracy.” 

A warning to McNicol not to think about destroying 
The letter expressed its fears that the meeting had been called “to manufacture a situation whereby Jeremy Corbyn’s name will be omitted from the leadership ballot.’  The letter went on to effectively accuse McNicol of fraud.  It said that despite obtaining advice from barristers Mark Henderson and Michael Mansfield QC that Corbyn’s name must be on the ballot paper, McNicol had tried to hide this advice from the NEC.  The letter threatened injunctive action against McNicol and warned him that the ‘destruction, deletion or concealment of relevant evidence is a very serious matter for the courts.’ 
The NEC meeting which voted narrowly, by 16-14 to include Corbyn’s name on the ballot paper also disenfranchised 130,000 new members of the Labour Party.  Undoubtedly Crooked McNicol was party to this too and the letter also asked him who was instructing him to carry out his devious behaviour.  The answer to this is the devious Right-winger Tom Watson, Corbyn’s treacherous deputy.  Watson’s behaviour reminds one  of Oscar Wilde’s comment that he has every quality of a dog except loyalty.

Solicitor's letter saying they don't trust Crooked McNicol's intentions
Thirteen Jewish female members of the Labour Party have called for a review of a decision by general secretary Iain McNicol on a complaint brought against former Israeli Embassy employee Ella Rose, who now heads a pro-Israel lobby group affiliated to the Labour Party, the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).

They say Ella Rose’s abusive and threatening behaviour, caught on camera in a documentary film, The Lobby, is intimidating to them as campaigners for Palestinian rights and critics of the state of Israel.
Solicitor's letter to Crooked McNicol reminding him of the obligation to act in good faith
The swift, discrete and sympathetic handling of Rose’s case contrasts markedly with treatment meted out to many party members who have been unjustly charged with antisemitism, suspended from membership and subjected to months’ long investigations, often in the full glare of publicity, through processes with scant regard for principles of natural justice.....
....
We do not believe you and your team have demonstrated the impartiality that members of the party have the right to expect and we will therefore be contacting members of the National Executive Committee and the National Constitutional Committee to ask for a review of your inadequate investigation.

Sincerely,

Jo Bird, Northern Ireland CLP
Li Doran, Tottenham CLP
Rosamine Hayeem, Harrow East CLP
Beverley Krell, Cheadle CLP
Leah Levane, Hastings and Rye CLP
Susanne Levin, Cities of London & Westminster CLP
Kay Manasseh, Streatham CLP
Jenny Salaman Manson, Finchley and Golders Green CLP
Angie Mindel, Nottingham East CLP
Diana Neslen, Ilford South CLP
Amanda Sebestyen, Holborn and St Pancras CLP
Vanessa Stilwell, Dulwich and West Norwood CLP
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Chingford and Woodford Green CLP


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Iain ‘Crooked’ McNicol
General Secretary
The Labour Party
Southside,
105 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QT

Dear Mr McNicol,

I submitted a complaint to you by email on 20th January concerning threats of violence made by Ella Rose, the Director of the Jewish Labour Movement.  The threats were made against Jackie Walker, a Black-Jewish member of the Labour Party who has been suspended since last September on bogus charges of anti-Semitism and whose investigation hearing has yet to take place.  Despite receiving an automatic acknowledgment of my email, I have not yet had a response to my letter.....
....
Your decision to rush through an ‘investigation’ of Ms Rose when I have been suspended for 11 months already is entirely understandable in the circumstances.
Kind regards as always,

Tony Greenstein

Monday, 20 February 2017

Anti-Semitism and the Alt-Right - Why Zionists have nothing to say about Trump’s Anti-Semitism

Suzanne Schneider is wrong to say that only right-wing Zionists allied with anti-Semites –Labour Zionism was equally guilty
Steve Bannon - Trump's anti-Semitic advisor
It is a strange thing.  Zionists are usually brilliant at spotting ‘anti-Semitism’ even when it doesn’t exist.  They have been calling Jackie Walker an anti-Semite for months on the basis of omitting one word ‘among’ in a private conversation, i.e. ‘Jews were among the chief financiers of slavery’.  None is better at this than the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism which can even spot anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the words of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, (when wrongly attributing them to Jackie Walker).

But when it comes to the open anti-Semitism and White supremacism of Trump and his alt-Right supporters, then there isn’t a peep.  Not a squeak.  Like the 3 wise monkeys, they have become blind, deaf and dumb.  When it came to Trump’s Holocaust Memorial Day statement on the Holocaust, which managed to omit Jews altogether, [White House Blocked Holocaust Statement that Explicitly Mentioned Jews ] which in the words of alt-Right leader Richard Spencer ‘deJudified the Holocaust’ the Zionists were silent.  [White Nationalist Leader Praises Trump For 'De-Judification' Of The Holocaust

These are difficult days for America’s Jews, historically the most liberal section of America’s White population.  Despite their support for Israel they don’t want to live there.  Why swap a highly comfortable life in America for the hot house atmosphere of Israel, with a political atmosphere of endemic racism and war? 

Many of America’s Jews aren’t even properly Jewish in Israel.  Those who have been converted according to the Conservative or Reform branches of Judaism in America won’t even have those conversions recognised in Israel.  They are Gentiles.  Non-Jews.
Bannon's Breitbart makes defence of the Confederate flag of the southern slave states the symbol of its fight against 'cultural genocide'
Despite the Zionist belief that anti-Semitism everywhere was eternal and could not be fought, America has, like most of Europe, proven that anti-Semitism was not inherent amongst non-Jews. 
Donald Trump has been elected with the support of the White Supremacist Right.  He has put into the White House as his closest political advisor, Steve Bannon, former CEO of Breitbart News.  

Breitbart, combines being ardently pro-Zionist with anti-Semitism.  Bannon is a White Nationalist.    [Here's Why It's Fair—and Necessary—to Call Trump's Chief Strategist a White Nationalist Champion]  White Nationalism is just a nice way of saying White Supremacism.  Breitbart openly support the call for the display of the Confederate flag of the old slave states of the American south.  Hoist it high and proud:  the Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage and opposition to the ‘glorious heritage’ of slavery and lynching is nothing less than  cultural genocide.
Milo Yiannopoulos -  the gay anti-Semite who is a senior editor at Breitbart
Breitbart is the home of the Alt-Right whose luminaries include Richard Spencer, whose main claim to fame was the ‘Heil Trump’ gathering.  Its senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos, is openly anti-Semitic.  He has no problem saying that Jews control the media and own all the banks.  The Alt-Right is based on the idea of racial and ethnic nationalism.  That is why they support Zionism – which they see, not wrongly, as Jewish ethnic nationalism.

The Zionist movement and Israel has welcomed the ascent of Trump.  Not only Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli’s government, but the Israeli Labour Party and its leader Isaac Herzog have also welcomed Trump to power. [see Israeli Labour Party Leader Isaac Herzog Extends a Warm Welcome to Donald Trump].  It is noteworthy that the Jewish Labour Movement, which is always eager to accuse anti-racists like Jackie Walker of ‘anti-Semitism’ was remarkably shy in condemning the leader of its ‘sister’ party for welcoming Trump.
part of the feminist opposition to 
In the United States itself, the Zionist Organisation of America invited Bannon to its annual Gala dinner in New York.  Owing to a large left-wing Jewish demonstration outside, a demonstration led by Jewish anti-Zionists, Bannon decided not to risk accepting the invitation.  The ZOA’s President Mort Klein was quoted as saying that ‘“I think Bannon was grateful that I defended him against this ludicrous charge of anti-Semitism,”  and not suprisingly because Klein's argument, a favourite of Zionism, is in his own words Bannon and Breitbart: Friends of Israel, not anti-Semites

Of course if your definition of anti-Semitism is support for Israel then Klein is right.  If anti-Semitism includes a belief in racial separation, that Jews belong with their own kind in their own state then Klein is wrong and Bannon and Breitbart are anti-Semitic.   But Adolf Eichmann too described himself as ardently pro-Zionist.  Indeed nearly all anti-Semites were known for their support for Zionism because it was through a Jewish state that the 'Jewish Question' could be solved.

Where the article below goes wrong is in its suggestion that it was only right-wing Zionists who allied with or supported anti-Semites.  On the contrary these alliances were equally the product of labour Zionism.
Richard Spencer of  the alt-Right's 'heil Trump' speech
It was Labour Zionism which entered into an economic alliance with Nazi Germany, Ha'avara in August 1933, thus breaking the Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany.  It was the Revisionist Zionists under Jabotinsky who opposed them.  It was the Labour Zionist/Haganah agent Feivel Polkes who offered to spy for the Gestapo in return for arms shipments.

It was the Labour Zionist Rudolph Kasztner who reached an agreement, helping to round up Hungarian Jews for the deportation trains in Hungary in exchange for a train out of Hungary with the Zionist elite on board.

The World Zionist Congresses between 1933 and 1939 which failed to unequivocally condemn either Hitler or the Nazis were controlled by the Labour Zionists.  The Revisionists abandoned the WZO after 1933. 

Both wings of Zionism accepted that anti-Semitism was inherent in non-Jewish society.  That the only answer to it was to flee and build a society based on the same principles of race they had escaped from. Their reasoning was that Jews had indeed adopted the anti-social qualities that the non-Jews ascribed to them  They based this reasoning on the fact that they had become estranged from their ‘homeland’ Palestine and that it was only by reuniting Jews with their roots that they could become normalised.  In Zionist jargon this was the ‘Negation of the Diaspora’.

Pinhas Rosenbluth, who later became a Minister of Justice in the first Israeli Labor Government , observed, Palestine was "an institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin.". [Journal of Israeli History, 8]  The journal of Hashomer Hatzair, the ‘left-wing’ of the Zionist movement, which later formed Mapam in Israel, observed that ‘The Jew is a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually. As an individual in society he revolts and throws off the harness of social obligation, knows no order nor discipline.’ [Our Shomer, ‘Welstanschaung’ Hashomer Hatzair, December 1936, p.12] cited in Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, pp 22/23].

What American and other Jews are learning is that Zionist groups like the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel are only interested in ‘anti-Semitism’ if it means opposition to the State of Israel.  Anti-Semitism which is merely about Jew hatred is not their concern.  After all without the push of anti-Semitism there would have been no anti-Semitism.  Or as Herzl remarked ‘‘Anti-Semitism, too, probably contains the Divine will to Good, because it forces us to close ranks, unites us through pressure, and through our unity will make us free. [Diaries p.231]

 Tony Greenstein


Between the congressional hearing for David Friedman, the visit of Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Trump’s refusal to address the rising tide of anti-Semitism, it’s been a tense time within the American Jewish community. For those on the right, Trump’s abandonment of the two-state solution, much like Friedman’s nomination, comes as an assurance that the new administration will firmly commit itself to an expansionist form of Zionism. And along with the presence of Jared Kushner within the President’s inner circle, keeping Friedman and Bibi in the wings is taken by many as a signal that Trump is not really an anti-Semite, despite surrounding himself with figures of questionable persuasion. According to this logic, the strong commitment by Trump and Steve Bannon to Israel undermines any suggestion that they harbor antipathy toward Jews. Yet, for many centrists and liberals, the idea of Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon working together causes endless confusion: How could the descendent of Holocaust survivors find common cause with the ideological leader of the alt-right?

The answer may lie in the history of the Zionist movement, a history which demonstrates that there is no inherent contradiction between Zionism and anti-Semitism. The two ideologies have in fact often worked in concert to achieve their shared goal: concentrating Jews in one place (so as to better avoid them in others). Even before the modern Zionist movement arose in the late 19th century, Christian philosophers and statesmen debated what to do with the “oriental” mass of Jewry in their midst. As the scholar Jonathan Hess of the University of North Carolina has noted, one “solution” popular among Enlightenment figures who harbored anti-Semitic feelings was to deport Jews to a colonial setting where they could be reformed. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, among the founders of German Idealism, noted in 1793 that the most effective protection Europeans could mount against the Jewish menace was to “conquer the holy land for them and send them all there.”

Indeed, Zionism crystallized as a political movement among European Jews explicitly to solve the problem of political anti-Semitism. For Zionist pioneers like Leo Pinsker and Theodor Herzl, anti-Semitism was an inevitable phenomenon that would occur at any time and place where Jews were a sizable minority. Normal relations with other nations could only be established by moving Jews to a place where they were a majority. Thus rather than pushing contemporary states and societies to devise new ways of accommodating difference, Zionist thinkers of Herzl’s generation ascribed to the logic that the Jewish “problem” could only be settled by removing Jews from European states.
The idea that Jews belong not in their actual place of residence and origin, but in the Holy Land, was of course not a position that all Zionists ascribed to, either then or now. Yet it is not hard to see the very problematic logic that links such assertions to the sort of blood-and-soil nationalism that led to the destruction of European Jewish life. Nazism of course grew out of this context and insisted that Jews could never really be German. The Nazis, however, took this conclusion to a radically new place: it was ultimately extermination, rather than resettlement, that drove the Nazi position.

Though the scope of destruction was not yet known in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, many nevertheless find it astounding that there were attempts by right-wing Zionists during these years to establish ties with Nazi Germany. Numerous scholars have noted the fascist sympathies of certain members of the Revisionist Zionist camp, who bitterly feuded with mainstream Zionists and denounced them as Bolsheviks. The antipathy was apparently mutual, as David Ben-Gurion in 1933 published a work that described Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of the Revisionist movement, as treading in the footsteps of Hitler. The Zionist Right’s flirtation with fascism reached its tragic peak in 1941 when Lehi, Avraham Stern’s paramilitary splinter group, approached Otto Von Hentig, a German diplomat, to propose cooperation between the nationally rooted Hebraic movement in Palestine and the German state. Nazi Germany declined his generous offer, having stumbled across quite a different “solution” to the question of Jewish existence.

It has been with this history in mind that I approach contemporary debates about Donald Trump’s presidency and the alliance it fosters between members of the white nationalist “alt-right” on one hand, and a certain segment of American Jews, on the other. The argument that the latter should work with the former because they all share a commitment to “Greater Israel” belies the fact that not all allies, or alliances, are created equal. When Richard Spencer voices his admiration of Zionism (because, in his understanding, the movement stands first and foremost for racial homogeneity), we should realize that this is not incidental to his suggestion that America might be better off with a peaceful ethnic cleansing of those population segments that are not of white, European descent. Do American Jews really believe that they will pass muster within such a state? And are the swastikas and other acts of intimidation that have been so abundant since Trump’s victory really just peaceful incentives to realize that our true home is in a land far, far away?

The answer must be a resounding “no.”

Jewish life flourishes in pluralistic societies within which difference is not a “problem” to be resolved, but a fact to be celebrated. The alliance of right-wing Zionists and the alt-right should not be viewed as an abnormality, but the meeting of quite compatible outlooks that assert — each in their own way—that the world will only be secure once we all retreat to our various plots of ancestral land. Nationalist thinking of this sort wrought more than its fair share of damage during the twentieth century. Let’s not enact a repeat performance in the twenty-first.

Suzanne Schneider is a historian of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Zionist movement, and a director and core faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Netanyahu's Corruption is the other side of Israel's racism and brutality

Fraud and Corruption - A Tradition Amongst Israel's Leadership

Arnon Milchan, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu on March 28, 2005. (Flash90)
It would seem that Netanyahu is on record as having agreed favours to a business in return for political support.  He has also admitted receiving hundreds of thousands of shekels in cigars and other luxuries.  His wife Sarah drank the finest champagnes courtesy of 'friends'.  Why is this of no surprise.  Israel’s previous Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is currently in prison for bribery and corruption and ex-President Moshe Katsav has just come out of prison, not for corruption but rape and sexual assault. The Present Interior Minister Aryeh Deri of Shas served three years in prison for corruption when he was previously a Minister.  

The extreme corruption of Israel’s political layers is just the other side of the coin from their racism and brutality.

However, despite the Police investigations it is possible that with the help of his friend Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, that he will yet avoid prosecution.

Tony Greenstein

Taking gifts from ‘sugar daddy’ is corruption, ex-Labor leader says of Netanyahu

Opposition politicians criticize PM’s conduct as police probe his receipt of costly cigars, other alleged favors, from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan

By Times of Israel staff January 7, 2017,

Zionist Union MK Shelly Yachimovich criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday for taking gifts from a “sugar daddy,” after police questioned the Israeli leader for allegedly accepting expensive cigars for years from Hollywood producer and businessman Arnon Milchan, as well as more goods from a second businessman.

“The prime minister had a sugar daddy for expensive products; that is the definition of corruption,” 

Yachimovich, a former leader of the Labor party, said at an event in Tel Aviv, according to Israel Radio.
At a different event Saturday in Modi’in, fellow Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni lashed out at Netanyahu as well, saying bitterly that an Israeli prime minister must decide “whether he wants to be a prime minister or an oligarch.”

Instead of concentrating on what he can give to the public, Netanyahu evidently focuses on what the public can give to him, she charged. Netanyahu “has lost the moral right to be prime minister,” Livni said.

Meretz head MK Zehava Galon joined in, asserting that the initial details of the investigation should cause serious concern for Israelis.
Hatnua’s Tzipi Livni shakes hands with Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich in November 2012 (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
“Getting a monthly allowance amounting to hundreds of thousands of shekels over the years from Arnon Milchan is not a gift among friends, it’s a disturbing package deal,” Galon said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara (C) and their son Yair seen with actress Kate Hudson at an event held at the home of producer Arnon Milchan (right), March 6, 2014. (Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)
Netanyahu was questioned by police under caution on Thursday evening for five hours — the second such session in four days — as the corruption investigation against him gathered pace. Among the issues reportedly discussed was his alleged acceptance of cigars worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from Milchan, and his wife Sara’s acceptance of pink champagne worth hundreds of shekels a bottle.

Police were also investigating a second case involving Netanyahu, though details surrounding the probe have not yet been released to the public. A source told Channel 2 news that this case, reportedly known as Case 2,000, would cause “a public storm” and “public anger” but would not necessarily lead to an indictment. It involved an Israeli businessman, the source said, who had sought to provide benefits to the Israeli leader in return for receiving certain perks.

Attorney Yaakov Weinroth on Channel 2’s “Meet the Press,” November 26, 2016. (screen capture)
Channel 10 reported a similar sentiment from investigative officials, with the broadcaster’s reporters being told the case was “juicy” and publicly harmful, but was complex and not straightforward as far as the law was concerned.

Channel 10 said the businessman was a “central” Israeli figure who wanted Netanyahu to “take a certain decision,” and would reward him in turn, and that it was not clear whether Netanyahu had taken the decision.

TV reports Friday night said that more witnesses will be questioned in the next few days, and then a decision will be made on whether to question Netanyahu a third time.

Netanyahu’s lawyer on Friday dismissed the seriousness of the Milchan probe. Yaakov Weinroth rejected the notion that there was anything criminal in the prime minister’s actions and said he had nothing to fear from the second case either. Weinroth, who consulted with his client at the end of Thursday’s questioning, said “there is nothing to the allegations” as regards Milchan’s gifts. “Any reasonable person knows that there is nothing remotely criminal involved when a close friend gives his friend a gift of cigars.”

As for the second case, Weinroth said that he has heard Netanyahu’s answers and “I was and I remain calm… We’re not talking about money, we’re not talking about loans, we’re not talking about anything that constitutes a crime.” It will become clear to all, he added, that there is “no suspicion, no trace, of a criminal offense in all of this.”

Police have said a second, unnamed suspect has also been interrogated in recent days. Some reports indicated this second individual was Milchan.

Police said they could not provide further details on the second corruption case due to concerns about possible obstructions of justice. They did not elaborate. Haaretz said police investigators warned Netanyahu on Thursday not to discuss the case with other suspects, because this could constitute obstruction of justice.

Netanyahu’s office made no official comment on Thursday night, but the prime minister has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. In a three-hour interview with police on Monday, Netanyahu acknowledged that he had received gifts from businessmen, but insisted they were entirely legal, 
Weinroth said Tuesday.

Channel 2 news reported that Netanyahu received the cigars from Milchan over the last 7-8 years. Sara received bottles of Dom Perignon pink champagne worth hundreds of shekels apiece during that period, the TV report said. It specified that the cigars included Cohiba Sigla V, Trinidad and Montecristo, and said each such cigar cost some 250 shekels (about $65).

Netanyahu is known as a connoisseur of fine cigars, and Channel 2 asserted the prime minister smokes 15,000-20,000 shekels’ worth of them each month.

Some 50 people are said to have testified to date in the probe.
Sources close to Netanyahu have pointed out that Milchan — whose films include “Fight Club” and 
“Pretty Woman” — sits on the board of Channel 10, which the prime minister has previously tried to shutter.

Channel 10 is also partially owned by US billionaire and World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who has also been questioned by police in connection with the case. Lauder, whose family founded the Estee Lauder cosmetics giant, has long been seen as an ally of Netanyahu.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who is overseeing the investigation against Netanyahu, has said the prime minister is suspected of “receiving improper benefits from businessmen.” He has provided few other details.

Netanyahu has also acknowledged receiving money from French tycoon Arnaud Mimran, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in France over a scam involving the trade of carbon emissions permits and taxes on them.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu received $40,000 in contributions from Mimran in 2001, when he was not in office, as part of a fund for public activities, including appearances abroad to promote Israel.