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Israel Deletes $360 million Debt from Oligarch

Yitzhak Tshuva laughs all the way to the bank…

 

 

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“It is very difficult to understand Israel’s actions,” one of my subscribers wrote me after a recent publication on Israeli violence. I won’t even review Israel’s actions here; entire sections of the Palestinian and Iranian affairs appear in the home page. Israel’s violence against other nations has inner reasons; it is an attempt by the Israeli Administration to distract its unwilling subjects from the serious social problems infecting that society. Recently an Israeli man set himself on fire, reminding everybody how bad life in Israel is; regular protests are taking place in all Jewish towns. Most people would gladly accept hardships if the government explains them why there is no proper food or drink, if told why they need a lifetime of paying an exploitative mortgage on a house of bricks (a very old technology that opposing all logic keeps getting more expensive), if that were explained in a logical way, they would accept their fate and achieve astounding feats of suffering for the sake of helping a society pass through hard times. Yet, Israel cannot request that from its citizens. On September 27, 2012, the State of Israel deleted—just like that—a debt of roughly $360 million owed by Yitzhak Tshuva, one of the richest people in the country. Lesser citizens would go to jail if they had missed a single mortgage payment.

Portrait of a Laughing Oligarch

The richest people seldom appear on lists of the richest people. Simply, calculating their well-hidden wealth is difficult. Very few of the ultra-rich own their wealth to a single company as Bill Gates does. Yitzhak Tshuva enters this category; nobody knows his exact possessions despite his being in all the main richest men lists. Simply, he is well diversified between countries and companies. The peak estimations regarding his wealth, place it at $3.5 billion in 2008. As of the end of 2012, he is allegedly worth only $1.9 billion. In sheer sympathy, the Israeli court deleted his tiny debt, to help him bounce back.

Yitzhak Tshuva

Yitzhak Tshuva

People before Profits

“People before Profits”
Jerusalem Protests, July 30, 2011

Second class citizens—as most people are—would have difficulty in understanding the event. After all, even in his late years of relative poverty, Mr. Tshuva’s wealth allows him to pay a meager $360 million debt; after that he would still be able to buy a cup of cappuccino at the nearest Starbucks (in the past he failed to introduce Starbucks into the Israeli market). Yet, looking at his known possessions the picture becomes clear. Mr. Tshuva owns the Delek and El-Ad groups. The first is a global energy company based in Israel; it conducts part of the Israeli research on the vast Eastern Mediterranean gas fields and maintains a large network of gas stations in Israel. Delek is also involved in desalination, power plants, insurance and other financial service. El-Ad Group is a real estate development conglomerate based in Israel, but very active in the USA, especially in hotels and casinos. Among many other upscale properties, it owns the New York Plaza Hotel. The picture below shows a Delek gas station in Giv’at Ze’ev, in the West Bank. Overall, Mr. Tshuva holds several assets which are strategic for Israel. His involvement in the energy field means he has close relations with the Ministry of Defense, especially with regard to the gas fields which are disputed by Lebanon and may lead to a war in the near future.

A second class citizen would go to jail for missing his mortgage payment. No Western government would care what his excuses are. Banks are the holy temples of Western Democracies; no citizen is allowed to taint their holiness. In sharp contrast, a first class citizen can quietly threaten back. Do you really want my money? No problem, but I will make sure the newly found gas fields are rendered useless! Any number of possible variations exist to this. This is why inflexible, brutal states become tender when dealing with the ultra-rich.

 

Delek Gas Station | West Bank

Delek Gas Station | West Bank

 

Portrait of a Partial Judge

“Mi Samha?” is a Biblical phrase in Hebrew which literally translates as “Who put you?” It is used to question the authority of somebody, often when that person is obviously abusing his position. There is no better phrase to define Judge Varda Alsheikh, who on September 27 issued a very strange verdict on the issue of Mr. Tshuva and Delek’s debts. The trial was relatively short. In July 2011, Mr. Tshuva announced that his company—Delek—won’t pay dividends and would go to trial in order to get its debt deleted. This is odd; the company owns vast reserves of gas, probably enough to buy substantial parts of Israel. The judge was blind to that, she concentrated on other issues. Mr. Tshuva eventually paid around $190 million to the stockholders and requested that $360 million be deleted.

“The partial payment that Tshuva made wasn’t done out of altruistic reasons—she said—but to cancel a state investigation against him and his relatives. Moreover, it was done in order to avoid damage to his capability to recruit funds in the future. He acted to save his skin and not the company.” These are harsh words. Despite that, she inexplicably gave Mr. Tshuva all that he had requested. Mr. Tshuva avoided paying 70% of his debts. Who put this person as a judge? She recognized Mr. Tshuva was guilty of crimes, but acquitted him because “Delek is a very stable company and is under the protection of one of society’s richest men.”

This is not the Rule of Law, but the Rule of Mafia. This behavior of the judge—and of the State of Israel—is worse than that of Germany’s Nazi regime. The latter was legal. It fastidiously followed German laws, and each one of its actions was justified under them. When it wanted to perform acts forbidden by those laws, the laws were changed. The Nazi regime was legal, but that doesn’t mean it was legitimate. I wouldn’t like to live in Nazi Germany, even if promised that everything would be legal. The same holds for any other place. Israel openly acted against its own laws—and international laws forbidding discrimination—for the sake of further enriching “one of society’s richest men.”

Israelis citizens are not blind. They understand they are being abused and robbed by a regime that in many aspects is worse—and obviously less legitimate—than the Nazi regime. The only way Israeli Prime Ministers can avoid a revolution against their illegitimate rule is by creating external enemies. By the end of 2012, Netanyahu is heavily invested in promoting Iran as an enemy. After all, the Israeli reality is not very complicated; it’s just a Mafiosi one.

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