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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another businessman named who allegedly bribed Olmert

On Friday, I mentioned that I had received a copy of a letter in Hebrew that named other names of people who have allegedly bribed Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert. I did not use the contents of the letter because I did not know its source and because other than naming Morris (Moshe) Talansky, it provided no details regarding the background of the people it named. Now, one of the people in that letter has been named by investigative journalist Yoav Yitzchak, and Yitzchak adds a lot of details that I did not have. Yitzchak's article is in Hebrew - for those who want to read it, you can find it here (Hat Tip: Shy Guy).

Yitzchak alleges that Moshe Reich, a well-known ultra-Orthodox businessman from Jerusalem paid Olmert 'hundreds of thousands of shekels' in bribes while Olmert was the Minister of Industry and Trade and while he was the minister in charge of the employment office between 2003 and 2005. According to Yitzchak, the two were introduced by Aryeh Deri, who lives in the same neighborhood as Reich. For those who are relatively new to Israeli politics, Deri was the leader of the Shas party until he was convicted of accepting bribes himself and sent to jail. Deri is a close friend of both Reich and Olmert.

In return for the money that Reich paid to Olmert - according to Yitzchak - Olmert caused his offices to pay government subsidies to set up employment centers for ultra-Orthodox women in the towns of Modiin Ilit (Kiryat Sefer) and Elad. The employment centers were set up through Image Store, a company owned by Reich. Yitzchak also mentions that 'problematic connections' between Olmert and Reich relating to the Laniado Hospital in Netanya are also under investigation, but he does not go into detail.

The assistance to Reich was given by the Ministry of Industry and Trade in 2005 after several requests from Reich for assistance in setting up the employment centers for ultra-Orthodox women. According to Yitzchak, the employment centers were set up in the manner specifically requested by Reich, and in return for employing several hundred ultra-Orthodox women (no numbers given), Reich received 'millions of shekels' in government assistance.

Again, for those of you who read Hebrew, the full article is here.


I should probably add a word or two about what these employment centers are. They employ women (ultra-Orthodox women) only, so that the women do not have to go to work in a mixed (gender or religious) environment. The women are paid much lower than market wages, but they willingly accept the lower wages because they want the segregated environment, because the employer understands that their schedules have to be arranged so that they are home when their children come home from school (often as early as 1:00 here), and because the employer is prepared for the fact that many of these women will be taking maternity leave once every 18-24 months on average (in Israel, by law, a woman is entitled to three months' leave each time she gives birth; as I have mentioned before ultra-Orthodox families are typically large).

Aside from the wages and the government subsidies, what's in it for the employer is that these women don't waste time. Unlike you and me, they don't use the Internet. These employment centers are actually quite profitable.


At 5:33 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its obvious Olmert did lot of deals. How many of them crossed the gray area over into outright illegality, we'll never know. There's more involved here than off the book meetings and the passing of stuffed envelopes full of cash.


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