Happy 60th. Sorry About That Indictment.


Talk about awkward timing. Next week, President Bush heads to Israel to mark that country’s sixtieth anniversary celebrations. But as Israeli media have reported this week, a rapidly moving corruption investigation has put the political future of Bush’s chief interlocutor there, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, in jeopardy.

Israeli media are subject to a sweeping court gag order inhibiting them from reporting details of the investigation. But today, the New York Post reported that a New York financier, Morris Talansky, with residences in Long Island and an apartment in Jerusalem, is central to the investigation of whether Olmert took bribes when he served as mayor of Jerusalem:

A Long Island mogul is at the center of a sensational bribery scandal that could bring down embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, The Post has learned.

Millionaire financier Morris Talansky – who runs an investment firm out of his tony home in Woodmere – allegedly passed money to Olmert while the politician was mayor of Jerusalem in the ’90s, sources said.

In a highly unusual move, Israeli authorities have barred the country’s media from publishing Talansky’s name – revealed now in The Post – saying it could hamper their investigation. Israeli media has referred only to the involvement of an “American businessman.”

Talansky is apparently set to sing to Israeli authorities about his alleged role in the scheme, sources said. …

The 75-year-old was earlier questioned about the alleged scheme almost immediately after arriving in the country for Passover, and he implicated Olmert, sources have said.

It was unclear what the alleged payments to Olmert were for, but sources said they involved hefty amounts of cash.

Talansky repeatedly appears – sometimes under the nickname “The Laundry Man” – in the logs of financial dealings kept by Olmert’s longtime aide, Shula Zakan, a source said.

Olmert was grilled by investigators Friday. He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. …

Fevered speculation aside, Olmert could very well come out of the whole thing ultimately unscathed. Israeli political life has a kind of Italian drama and turmoil to it, and yet key players seem to have a decades long persistence. Stay tuned.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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