The evolving scandal concerning Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s election campaign has little to do with foreign contributions, as emphasized in the recent “spin” that has appeared in most of the foreign media. Instead, the scandal has much to do with Barak’s handling of phony non-profit organizations that were founded overnight to help the Barak campaign.

Israeli political campaigns had previously witnessed foreign campaign contributions, not all of which had been entirely legal. That is nothing new.

What is new is that the Registrar of Israel’s Non-Profit Organization Authority in the Israel Ministry of Interior and the Israel State Comptroller have both issued unprecedented scathing reports concerning another subject entirely — that twenty three fictitious health, education and welfare organizations were spawned by the Barak campaign overnight, all of which laundered funds to the Barak campaign.

There had been an unwritten rule in the Israeli public sector, which is that no one should use non-profit organizations as a conduit to funnel money for Israeli political candidates, let alone create them for that purpose. Non-profit organizations have literally built the infrastructure of the state of Israel, chanelling generos contributions to the Jewish state from Jews and non-Jews who have wanted to make the young state of Israel flourish, so that it could fulfill its national purpose, which is to gather in Jews from the four corners of the globe.

Barak broke that cardinal rule. The chances are that Barak and his supporters, both in Israel and abroad, will pay for that breach of trust.

In Israel, foreign campaign contributions remains a misdemeanor, for which many Israeli political parties have been fined. However, fraud in the transfer of funds through fictitious non-profit organizations remains a felony, both in the US and in Israel.

Israel had never before witnessed such a violation of the public trust during a political campaign – and that is what is now being investigated by the Israeli police and by the FBI.

Herein lies the scandal of the Israeli 1999 political campaign.

The question that the American administration will ask itself is the same question that the Israeli electorate now asks: Is Ehud Barak a man of integrity?

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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