Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Teves 5761 - January 17, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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The Financing of the Labor Party via the Absorption Ministry
by N. Zeevi

A new twist to the ongoing saga of the investigation into Barak's election amutot (nonprofit organizations) has come to light recently. The local Jerusalem publication, Kol Hair revealed that amutot which were set up when Barak first became leader of the Labor Party, receive funds from government budgets.

The paper's correspondent Gidi Weitz writes that one of the most prominent amutot used by Barak during the last elections was Yedid. Barak conceived the idea that this amuta was to provide community services in outlying areas in the spirit of the Labor Party, as part of the "new priorities," which was one of his slogans in the election campaign. The practical aim was attract votes from population sectors which traditionally did not vote Labor.

The force behind the amuta was Yuli Tamir, who would afterwards become Barak's personal appointee as Minister of Absorption. All those sources cited in the State- Comptroller's Report as having financed Barak's campaign, were also only too happy to contribute funds to Yedid. Take, for example, the Rabin Alliance amuta, one of whose senior members was Barak's brother-in-law, Advocate Doron Cohen. The Kahanof Fund, which was also mentioned in the Comptroller's Report as one of the conduits through which funds were transferred for Barak's election campaign, also donated large sums to Yedid.

Weitz writes that after she was appointed Minister, Tamir resigned from the amuta, but did not forget Yedid. It turns out that the Immigration and Absorption Ministry hands out to the amuta funds of scandalous proportions from government budgets: 307,000 NIS a year. A few months ago Kol Hair revealed that the amuta known as Alternativa whose leading members were pro-Barak activists during the elections, were allocated funds amounting to 225 thousand NIS.

As a result of the publication of this report, Limor Livnat (Likud) filed a complaint with the Attorney General Rubinstein, who instructed the Absorption Ministry to investigate the matter. "It looks like the Labor Party will not be able to shake off the amutot episode," writes the paper.

The Absorption Ministry, in its response to Kal Hair, says that the Ministry supports Amutot and organizations in accordance with criteria authorized by the Attorney General. These criteria are published every year, and every amuta is entitled to submit a request for support. Amutot whose requests are accepted receive funds only after presenting reports on all the activities they need to undertake in accordance with the criteria. Activities authorized by the Ministry are in the social and absorption fields, as well as aid to immigrants.

Any Amuta requesting assistance from the Ministry, has to sign a form which includes an undertaking not to use any funds for political activities. Yedid, which received 307 thousand NIS, deals with setting up information centers for new immigrants, community services, youth volunteer services and current events. Alternativa, which received 225 thousand NIS, deals with the establishment of information centers.

These explanations did not satisfy the Attorney General, who instructed the Ministry to freeze all transfer of funds to Alternativa, which had helped Ehud Barak during the last elections, until after the upcoming elections. "As for the affairs of the amuta [Alternativa], writes Rubinstein, "we have established that it made a forbidden contribution to the One Israel Party. It should be pointed out that at the time it had not received any funds from the Ministry." Taking all the circumstances into consideration, the Attorney General decided that the amuta would be eligible to receive further funds after the current election period, if it met all the required standards. Kol Hair comments on this: "The Labor Party now has another reason to attack Rubinstein in its election campaign!"

The Kahanof Fund, which pumped money into the other Amuta, Yedid, was also a major contributor to Barak's last election campaign. Kol Hair also managed to obtain an internal document of this Fund, which includes a list of amutot financed by it, some of which are currently being investigated. This interesting list includes amutot such as Rovad, Besura, Dor Shalom, Yedid and others. The paper remarks, "Guess what all these have in common!"

It seems that the undertaking to refrain from political activities is not worth the paper it is written on. Nobody paid much attention to these funds until now. How many more budget funds were poured into political purposes? We await the next installment of revelations.


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