Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Nice Idea


If you missed this recently reposting here

Monday, April 03, 2006
The Billionaire Architects Behind Israel's Destruction

If there was one thing Benjamin Netanyahu had come to stand for it was his reformist economic policies that challenged Israel's outmoded socialism and also tackled the monopolies with which Israel is overrun, particularly the monopolization of the banking sector. Twelve groups control 60 percent of the market value of all of Israel's companies, these groups use banks to buy and control families of corporations. These groups themselves are controlled by powerful billionaires very much involved in Israeli politics.

When Netanyahu began working to destroy these monopolies as finance minister, particularly in the banking sector which is the linchpin used to control the Israeli economy, he made some very powerful and dangerous enemies. And the entanglements become very corrupt indeed. Consider one of the 12, Matthew Bronfman of the Bronfman clan who purchased a controlling stake in the Israeli Discount Bank from the State of Israel while being elected to the World Jewish Congress audit and budget commission to cover up the corruption practiced under his father and investigated by the New York Attorney General. His partner in the bid was arrested New Jersey businessman Charles Kushner who among a litany of financial crimes paid a prostitute to entrap a witness against him.

There were no other bidders for the Israeli Discount Bank because Israeli banks are not financially profitable in and of themselves, they are only good for amassing corporations which Bronfman proceeded to do buying up majority control of Ikea Israel, Blue Square Israel's largest supermarket chain which controls 35 percent of the country's supermarkets. Bronfman's emphasis has been very much on the 'peace process' promising that peace would produce economic dividends. At the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, Bronfman reiterated that an Israel at peace will be a magnet for foreign investment. Of course the interest of such figures is not in actual peace but in doing business, such as Bronfman's plans to expand his group into Palestinian areas, something that requires the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority, namely Hamas. It is little surprise that Bronfman was a donor to the Barak campaign.

A much more obviously hands on example is another of the 12, Haim Saban, close personal friend of Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon; best known to Americans for inflicting the Power Rangers on a generation of children, but behind the scenes was the Democratic Party's largest donors donating over one million dollars in 2000 alone and 7 million dollars in 2002. He became the owner of Germany's largest television corporation and acquired a controlling interest in Bezeq, Israel's national telephone company. Thanks to his donations to the Clinton Administration he was appointed to the President's Export Council where he had input on US trade issues.

In 2002 he donated 13 million dollars to the Brookings Institute to create the Saban Center for Middle Eastern Policy whose senior fellow is Shibley Telhami, Vice Chair of Human Rights Watch, Middle East and currently using the Saban Center to advocate on behalf of Hamas penning such phrases as, "Many in the Arab world, including see possibilities in Hamas' victory and seem fully prepared to accept that the organization will change. They are viewing it through the prism of hope." Another scholar is Akbar Ahmed who after 9/11 warned the Department of Homeland Security that, "At the time of September 11, there were millions of Muslims in the world and probably a few dozens of them wanted to do harm to the US. But when you antagonise and alienate Muslims like this, those that are angry at America start to multiply."

The Saban Forum held in November of 2005 under its auspices featured predictably enough Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres and of course Ehud Olmert. In attendance was Sharon's close advisor and architect of his schemes, Dov Weisglass as well as World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who raised money for the transfer of the greenhouses of Gush Katif to Arab hands and today holds down a post at the State Department as he goes around lobbying for more money for Hamas.

Defense Secretary Shaul Mofaz was there along with Amnon Lipkin Shahak, former Shabak head and reborn peace activist Avi Dichter, current Justice Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and and Immigration Tzipi Livni who bailed out of Likud for Kadima, Stanley Fischer Governor of the Bank of Israel and former Deputy Director of the IMF, Dalia Itzik who bailed out of Labor for Kadima, Dan Meridor Olmert's likely next Justice Minister, Gilead Sher one of the chief negotiators with the Palestinians who wrote up a paper on the legality of Disengagement, Dov Lautman who combines extensive business interests with extensive positions in left wing organizations. Along with Bill and Hillary Clinton, former ambassador Dennis Ross, Sandy Berger who got a slap on the wrist for stealing and destroying top secret document, Strobe Talbot who was behind the Kosovo War and former ambassador Martin Indyk who took tampering in Israel's domestic policy to new heights.

At this forum Kadima's elite to be and the men and women who had done much to bring Israel to the brink of destruction met up with their Clinton era counterparts who had worked towards the same goal under the auspices of a billionaire with worldwide media interests who had not so secretly funded their political ambitions.

The disaster that would follow saw the crippling of Israel's Labor and Likud parties, the promotion of fake pensioner's party led by another billionaire businessman with major foreign interests and a Mossad veteran, not to mention the deeply corrupt Yisrael Beiteinu mafia. It was not an accident of fate but a well orchestrated campaign to destroy what remained of Israel's democracy by infiltrating Likud and Labor's voting ranks in order to destroy them from the inside and create a new Putinesque government party, Kadima, devoid of ideals with no allegiance to anything but international interests.

The 12 billionaires and the politicians they support have no interest in peace or Israel's security or fighting terrorism. They are not motivated by ideals, only by power and profits. They have no goals besides being on top. They are not Zionists and they are only Anti-Zionists insofar as Zionism interferes with their bottom line and holds back their profits. Their goal is to dismantle as much of Israel as is needed to appease the Arabs and the West to smooth the way for their business ventures. To them Israel is nothing more than a corporation, portions of which they will liquidate to improve productivity and market value while its executives will be rewarded with generous bonuses such as Sharon's Greek island or Olmert's million dollar house sale.

The businessmen made common cause with the left wing because they see international respectability and open markets as the key to their success. They do not care if buses blow up in Jerusalem. They don't ride buses anyway. If bombs blow up in Haifa cafes, that too is alright because they prefer Parisian ones. If shells fall on Ashkelon or any part of Israel they will simply move. They have adopted Peres' vision of a New Middle East without borders or economic barriers and they greedily lust for the potential profits no matter the cost.

If they are not stopped, Israel will not survive.

Forbes Reinforces Claim That Kadima is Tool of Oligarchs
Monday, April 3, 2006 / 5 Nisan 5766

Forbes Israel reported Sunday that twelve business groups control Israel's economy - making it among the most concentrated on the globe. The report echoes warnings by journalist Ari Shavit.

According to the report, the business groups are controlled by the following families: Sami Ofer, Nochi Dankner, Shari Arison, the Cerberus-Gabriel consortium, Charles Bronfman, Yitzchak Tshuva, the Saban group, Lev Leviev, Matthew Bronfman, Tzadik Bino, the Borovich family, and Eliezer Fishman. The 12 families own 60 percent of the aggregate market value of all Israeli public companies (excluding the even larger Teva Pharmaceutical Industries), Forbes reported.

The report goes on to say that the families have constructed their empires, which consist of Israel's largest companies, using organizational structures that have long ago been done away with in the Western world.

The report explains that the groups have an inordinate amount of control over Israel's economy, political leaders and media due to the structuring of their holdings as pyramids – meaning several layers of companies each own others beneath them but are all beholden to the leading families. Such a phenomenon was eliminated in the US in the early 20th century through restrictions on ownership and the double taxation of dividends a company paid its owner company.

The report stressed that the issue is not economic, but political saying the only way to regulate the power of the families is a large government coalition that would seek such regulation.

Shavit, a commentator for the left-wing Haaretz daily, recently warned that the Kadima Party, led by Ehud Olmert, directly represents the interests of "the 18 families," as Shavit refers to those controlling most of Israel's assets. Shavit warned that a Kadima victory would represent a total takeover of control of all the central institutions of the state by the families. He wrote a mock-memo, as a "strategic advisor to the 18 families" on the eve of elections:

"Dear Wealthy Families,

Dear 18 Families: Israel is ours
23.3.06 | 17:38 By Ari Shavit


ATT: The 18 Families. From: Strategic adviser ____.

Dear Wealthy Families,

Ahead of the coming elections, I thought it appropriate to report to you on the latest political updates in your home country, you know the one, Israel.

As you know, for the last 15 years my colleagues and I have been laboring faithfully and devotedly to assure your conquest over the democratic systems of said country.

Over the years, we reached outstanding achievements. We have managed to create a society devoid of opposition for you, one without any parties worthy of note, without labor unions worth the name, without sniping journalists. We thus achieved almost perfect control over the Israeli consciousness, and over the government and political establishment.

We can state, with great satisfaction, that there is no political power in Israel today that can stop us; there is no public debate that could restrain us; and there no investigative journalism that can imperil us. Thanks to methodical, professional work over a decade, we have achieved absolute hegemony for you. A hegemony that wealth never had in any western country worthy of the name. A hegemony that even the steamroller of Mapai back in the 1950s could not boast. A hegemony that has essentially changed Israel from a democracy into an oligarchy. Your oligarchy, dear Families. An oligarchy that allows 18 oligarchs to rule our country without constraints.
Not One of Us

This is the context in which the main importance of the 2006 elections should be viewed. Three undeserving candidates contended; one with no record and two with bad records. Two are extremists and one had no views. One lacks confidence, the second has too much and the third is easy to sway. Yet from the perspective of the Oligarchs Project that my colleagues and I are handling for you, the situation was clear: Olmert and Kadima were the great hope while Peretz and Netanyahu posed real danger.

The danger Peretz posed does not require elaboration: the man is strange. He does not worship money and does not grovel before wealth. He behaves as though he does not recognize the superiority of capital. His anachronistic ideas about justice and equality are a clear threat to the new order we worked so hard to establish for you.

But Netanyahu also turned out to be a flake. Granted, he doubled or even tripled the number of wealthy families in recent years, but apparently his moves were based on a pathetic world view, that the principles of free markets and competition should also apply to the richest 0.01% of the population. As each and every one of you Rich Families has experienced, Netanyahu couldn't be bought. He didn't get it.

When he got a bit big for his britches, opposed the disengagement process and even tried to rebel against the banks, we suddenly understood that he is not One of Us. Despite Caesarea and his cigars, Netanyahu was as dangerous as Peretz. Our strategic decision was clear: Bibi came, Bibi did and now it's time for Bibi to go.

So even though the election campaign seems half-dead, in fact behind the scenes things were very dramatic. The campaign presented threats from the left and right to the rule of the oligarchs.

We had to act cunningly to foil the peril. We had to set up a political body that would serve us faithfully and put One of Us at its head. We had to harness all the assets we bought in the last decade to assure its victory, to ensure that the government shared our views, bears our arms, does our bidding.

The promised land

Remember, Arik Sharon was very convenient for us. He liked power and esteemed power and understood that we are the power. But his obedience was not absolute. Here and there he was moved by old-fashioned notions of patriotism that were hopelessly unbusinesslike. On the other hand, E.O. is really a great chap. We all know it: his door is open and there's no red tape that can't be cut. There's no deal that can't be dealt with. It's the promised land, milk and money.

But the issue isn't just personal. As a vehicle, Kadima has the political structure we always dreamed of, being a party with no members and no institutions and no ideology. The new ruling party will be a vastly valuable tool to achieve our goals. Since it has no obligations downward, only upward, it will enable us to seize full control over the Israeli government. Police, prosecution, treasury - it will all be in our hands. Even the antitrust commissioner. The Supervisor of Banks. Even the Supreme Court will be manned with new, friendly faces. Like Berlusconi's Italy or Putin's Russia, Israel of Kadima will be a paradise for corporate control. The decrepit democratic regime of the 20th century will be replaced by a reign of the oligarchs with absolute economic power.

Ladies and gentlemen, do not underestimate the importance of this moment. In the last few months we proved we can hold elections with no debate of the issues, no confrontations, no true picture of the situation. We proved that by anesthetizing public opinion, we can mold it. We have perfected the art of managing the democratic process so as to yield the desired results.

And at the end, when the masses return home from the voting booth, we will be able to say with absolute certainty: We rule Israel absolutely. Not indirectly but directly, not partially but wholly. Israel is ours, dear 18 Families.

A word of caution

But at this point I must include one bearish warning in this bullish report. As a loyal, objective strategic analyst it is incumbent upon me to tell my superiors the hard truth: history shows that while in business you may be top guns, in diplomacy - you're barely water pistols. When it comes to your personal interests, you're sharks, but when it comes to the national interest, you're guppies. You don't understand Palestinians, you don't understand the Middle East, and you don't understand the diplomatic side of life.

This shortfall in understanding, and your need to buy quiet in order to do business, makes you the perfect protectors. When you take the keys to the state after March 28, it will start paying you protection money in order to buy some quiet.

But the quiet won't last, dear oligarchs. When it ends, big business will collapse too. In my capacity as an investment adviser, this is my advice: take advantage of the next few years. Squeeze as much as you can from the meltdown of bang!disengagement followed closely by the bang!corpocracy. The chances are good that until 2010, you can go wild like you never have before. But remember that the party will end. Remember that it will gorge on your principle and wear down your asset. And remember that no country can survive with its pillars of support rotten to the core. No free country can survive when its democratic spirit has been broken.

So, start now: prepare real estate companies in eastern Europe and bank accounts in the Virgin Islands. Prepare your yachts for a long voyage. The 2006 victory is a tremendous one, but it needs an exit strategy. My colleagues and I recommend cashing out gains within a few years and moving onto the next investment. Think about Uganda. It looks very promising.


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