Tuesday, March 08, 2005

This is what happens when decisions are not made on a purely professional basis

Zvi Hefetz was never a popular choice for Israeli ambassador to the UK. He had little/no experience, inadequate English, and was clearly only being appointed because of his personal ties to Ariel and Omri Sharon. The British Jews didn't want him, and many Israelis were astonished that Israel would send such an amateur to one of the most important diplomatic posts in the world.
And now, there are serious rumors that he has been involved in a major money-laundering scandal in Israel. One of the major suspects in the case is Russian-Israeli businessman Vladimir Gusinsky, and before Hefetz left for London a few short months ago, he represented Gusinsky locally. According to Ha'aretz, the Police say Hefetz will be questioned.
At the moment, Hefetz's involvement is only speculation, and he denies any involvement. Let's hope he's telling the truth, because should it emerge that Israel has sent a crooked ambassador to the court of St. James, it will be a total embarrassment internationally, a total insult to the local Jewish community and to the Brits, and destroy Israel's claims to be taking its hasbara seriously in one fell swoop. As it is, should it be proven that Gusinsky was involved in such criminal activity (money-laundering is, incidentally, has been a major problem in Israel for years and the country was, as a result, on the Financial Action Task Force blacklist as recently as 2002), Hefetz's proximity will not look good.

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