Kafe Knesset for September 6
From Hollywood to the interrogation room: The first rule of Fight Club is that there is no Fight Club. So maybe the fact that “Fight Club” producer Arnon Milchan is at the center of one of Netanyahu’s corruption probes inspired the PM’s catch phrase about the investigations: “There will be nothing, because there is nothing.” News emerged yesterday that Milchan – who also produced “Pretty Woman,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “12 Years a Slave” and 125 more films, and claims to have been an Israeli secret agent – was questioned under caution last week for allegedly bribing Netanyahu. Milchan is the one who gave the Netanyahus cigars and pink champagne. Allegedly, Netanyahu put in a good word for Milchan with former Secretary of State John Kerry when Milchan’s US visa was running out. Netanyahu also allegedly improved the regulatory environment for Israel’s Channel 10, which Milchan partially owns. This latest development makes it look more likely that Netanyahu will be indicted for bribery.
Meanwhile, more and more names have come up in connection to the German submarine affair. Former Netanyahu adviser Shalom Shlomo testified to the police. Former Naval Commando Unit commander, IDF Brigadier General (reserves) Shay Brosh allegedly suspected of bribery.
Flight, not fight: With the tense atmosphere between the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism and the current Israeli government, don’t expect PM Netanyahu to hold any big public events with the Jewish community on his stop in New York this month. It appears the Prime Minister decided he wanted to avoid the possibility of a confrontation over the Western Wall and conversion, and is only holding private meetings with Jewish community leaders. During prior visits, he has had large events with the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Federation. Disagreements on religion and state are a likely reason. Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office told Kafe Knesset that the NYC itinerary has not been finalized yet. He will, however, hold large public events in Mexico City and Buenos Aires, the next stops on his trip.
Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar seems to have none of Netanyahu’s concerns and add more fuel to the fire over the Western Wall. Rabbi Amar said that Reform Jewry is worse than Holocaust deniers. The comment came after the High Court hearing last week saying the government should reconsider suspending the plan to create a state-sponsored egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall. “They deny more than Holocaust deniers,” he said. “In all of the Mishna and Gemara there was a women’s section and a men’s section in the Temple. Did we invent this?”
The Prime Minister condemned Amar’s remarks. “All Jews are part of one family and the diversity of our people should always be respected,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “I categorically reject any attempt to delegitimize any part of the Jewish people.”
This post was updated to include Netanyahu’s statement