On January 27, 2000, The Israel State Comptroller, the highest arbiter of the Israeli legal system, asserted that the campaign to elect Ehud Barak as the prime minister of Israel had established no less than twenty three fictitious non- profit organizations that had channeled illegal contributions to Barak’s campaign coffers.
These organizations, with innocuous names such as “Hope for Israel”, “The movement for better taxi service”, “Citizens from right and left”, “Doctors for immigrant absorption”, were established in 1998 and 1999 as bonafide health, education and welfare organizations, and duly registered as such in the Israeli government registrar of non-profit organizations.
However, the Israeli State Comptroller documented was that these groups were transformed into clandestine conduits for Barak’s election campaign in the Spring of 1999. These organizations never bothered to maintain appropriate book-keeping procedures under the bylaws of the Israeli government registrar of non-profit organizations, and they were all stricken from the record.
Some of these organizations maintained organizational ties to American Jewish organizations such as the Israel Policy Forum, a respected lobbying organization in Washington, which had been using the services of Attorney Yitzhak Hertzog as a liaison to the Barak camp in Jerusalem. Hertzog, the son of the late Israeli president Haim Hertzog, is now the prestigious cabinet secretary of the Barak government has been identified by the state comptroller as the attorney of record who oversaw the registration of this plethora of non-profit organizations on behalf of Barak’s election. Only fifteen minutes after the official publication of the state comptroller report, the Israeli attorney general Dr. Elyakim Rubenstein ordered a police investigation to review the Barak campaign allegations.
Essentially, that inquiry will address the question of Barak’s accountability which has shades of the challenge to Nixon in the 1973-74 Watergate committee: What did he know, when did he know it and was he directly involved?
Barak did not get off to a good start. His first reaction to the Israel State Comptroller report, issued on January 30, was that he was never directly engaged in fund-raising activities. Barak had apparently forgotten about his March 25th, 1999 personal appearance at a $10,000 a plate dinner given on his behalf in Los Angeles, hosted by California industrialist Haim Saban and reported on the wire of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on March 28th. Reached by Raanana journalist Aaron Lerner at his home, Tugend affirmed that he had covered the event where Barak had personally solicited funds from wealthy American supporters.
American citizens who make non-profit contributions that wind up in political coffers are aware that this violates IRS law. Some of Barak’s American contributors may have reason to be nervous at this time.
Another factor that the Israeli police and public want to know concerns the involvement of the Clinton Administration. The Israeli police want to know who was paying the bills for Barak’s campaign advisor Tal Zilberstein, who is retained by Washington political strategists James Carville and Stanley Greenberg, the same team retained by Clinton. The Israel State Comptroller notes that Zilberstein was paid in foreign currency. From where? From private citizens? Or from funds traced to the Clinton Administration itself?
Stay tuned for an unprecedented Israeli police inquiry into the campaign of prime minister Ehud Barak in the Spring of 1999.