Κυριακή, 13 Δεκεμβρίου 2015

How much has to be paid to be appointed Patriarch?

Secrets and Lies

A stinking deal covered by the Government, the appointment of a controversial Patriarch in exchange for payment, betrayal of collaborators, abandonment of strategic assets, massive fraud and deception. And money, a lot of money. The dark story that the Jewish National Fund and the Government of Israel will want very much to forget
"Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man's face. It cannot be concealed. People talk sometimes of secret vices. There are no such things. If a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even...." (Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray)
This dark tale, tells something about the internal ethics of deception, the sin that becomes the values that drive the strategy, and the uncontrollable passion that sometimes is both the crime and the punishment. Not only can wealth go against its owner, sometimes sophistication and polish does. From another angle, it is also an amazing story about the infinite elasticity of the facts, the virtuosity of the narratives. This story, however you turn it over, cannot be solved. It is like a huge Hungarian cube. You can read it naively or read it in a sophisticated manner. On can easily be convinced to believe everyone and be convinced by the internal logic of each of the conflicting descriptions, and it is possible not to believe anyone and see them all as crafty crooks who know how to manipulate those around them to satisfy their needs. You can see how blind desire decides the fate of the individual and how the wheel turns and each plays the role written for him, and you can also see the effort of the individual characters “to bring out dear from cheap” and do some good in the region of Sodom.

Legal Vertigo 

When I went last month to a hearing in the courtroom of Judge Moshe Bar-Am in the Jerusalem District Court a light vertigo grabbed me. The small courtroom was crowded with lawyers in black robes. Many lawyers were crowded on benches, standing in the aisles, pushed behind the door. One in his distress even thought to sit next to the court reporter’s table. The first impossible task was to try to map out the scene. Figure out who belongs to the plaintiffs, who with the defendants, who belongs to the long list of third parties involved in this “mega – case”. When the picture began to become clear the vertigo turned to nausea. This surreal story, it was discovered, is tainted by a lot of dirty political religious and real estate intrigues.  Crimes, wrongs, secrets and lies, and of course money. A lot of money.

Church real estate

To understand the recent events you have to go back and remember one of the largest fraud episodes in recent years, called "The Patriarchate File" The following facts are described in the criminal verdict given by the Jerusalem District Court. Here are the main players:
Greek Patriarch - Orthodox Diaodoros Kriblis (died 2000): The Greek - Orthodox Church which Diaodoros served as the previous representative on earth of Jesus does not deal only with at mass, sacraments and worship, but functioned also one of the strongest and important major holder of real estate in the country. How important? Here's an example: The area on which the Knesset, most of the neighborhoods of Rehavia and Talbieh, the train-station compound, about 20% of the area of the Old City and more are just a small part of the great real estate treasures held by the Church.

The Jewish National Fund: JNF stepped in the picture due to an area of about 520 acres in Rehavia and Talbieh, which was leased in the middle of last century by the Patriarchate to the JNF for 99 years with an option to extend thereafter. JNF transferred lease rights in the land to the Israel Lands Administration, which sub-leased to third parties. Many houses and apartments were built on the land within which resides, among others, the cream of academia and the political system, and they became one of the desirable and expensive neighborhoods in the country. The Patriarch Diadoros was pressured heavily by the Palestinian Authority, and the JNF feared greatly that the Patriarchate will raise difficulties and would not allow the continuation of the lease at the end of the period. To this was added the fact that the representative of Jesus was elderly and sick, and there was concern that he would sign irreversible documents with Palestinian officials.

She demanded the money in cash

Attorney Yaakov Weinroth:  in 2000 the leading attorney approached the Ministers of Finance and National Infrastructures as representative of two clients, Yaakov Rabinowitz and David Morgerstern, who acted in this case like the merchants in the story of the emperor's new clothes. Weinroth told ministers that his clients have ties with the Patriarchate, and they are able to solve the problem of land in Jerusalem. The proposal was that in consideration for one payment to be made in advance the Patriarchate would lease the land to a foreign corporation controlled by the client for a period of 999 years. This corporation and the client would act as trustees of the Himnuta company, which is a subsidiary of the JNF. The foreign corporation, established specifically for the deal by Mr. Weinroth and controlled by Rabinowitz, was designed to overcome the political sensitivity of doing a real estate deal directly with state agencies, and with the objective to blur the connection to the state authorities and the JNF. Weinroth explained the need for great secrecy and to pay the money in ways not acceptable - payment in cash, without receipts. The state agreed and lent $ 20 million to the JNF, which was transferred to Himnuta for the transaction.
The amount was transferred by bank transfer to the account of Mr. Weinroth, who handled the transaction and acted as the trustee regarding the transfer of funds. The plan was that Weinroth would pay the Patriarchate with bank checks, after received the documents of the deal signed by the Patriarch. Of the said amount $ 16 million were to go to the Patriarch and the Patriarchate, and the rest, some $ 4 million, were fees to attorneys, brokers and more.
After delays and postponements the parties were summoned to sign the contract on Friday, -14.4.2000. Present were Rabinowitz and Morgerstern, Attorney Abraham Perry, whose job was to certify the signature of the Patriarch as notary, Attorney Yaakov Weinroth, Attorney Avi Weinroth (brother), Dr. Bruno Ostfeld, family doctor of the Weinroth family, who was supposed check the fitness of the sick Patriarch to engage in the transaction, and the JNF representative Mr. Tanuri.

Not everyone came

When all the groomsmen came to the home of the Patriarch, Rabinovitch asked the Weinroth brothers and Mr. Tanuri to wait in the sitting room. He explained that the present condition of the Patriarch made it completely impossible for them all together to go up to his private quarters. Rabinowitz showed those present the transaction documents when they have two seals, but still no signature of the Patriarch. The line of the transaction amount was empty, and Morgerstern wrote in the appropriate amount - $ 16 million - and the date of the transaction. Then Rabinowitz himself and Dr. Ostfeld went up to the Patriarch's room, and later Attorney Perry. The Patriarch was in his bed. Then the three came down, and this time they had documents with them with the two stamps and also the signature that was said to be of the Patriarch. Dr. Ostfeld confirmed that the Patriarch was fit to carry out the land deal. Mr. Perry announced solemnly that the documents were signed in his presence (I later learned that he did not come into the room) then Rabinowitz gave Attorney Weinroth the transaction documents, that had allegedly been signed shortly before then. At this point Attorney Weinroth also went up to the Patriarch, thanked him in English about the deal without detailing its content, and the Patriarch on his part said (in English) "Yes, yes, come again". Mr. Weinroth gave to Rabinowitz, the checks in the amount of $ 16 million.

"The most sophisticated fraud case"

When representatives of the JNF went to the offices of the Lands Registry to record a warning on the property they discovered to their astonishment that the Patriarchate representatives opposed the registration and claimed that they never received the money and that the Patriarch had not signed the contract.

"Follow the Money" was the advice given by "Deep Throat", the FBI agent who brought about the exposure of the famous Watergate scandal to the two Washington Post reporters who investigated the case. This advice was most helpful - Two reporters followed the money route, which led the way to the president of the U.S., Richard Nixon, and to crack the case.
Here too, the police investigated, followed deposits funds in Europe, and served harsh indictments against Rabinowitz and Morgerstern. It turned out that the majority of the money was pocketed by the middlemen. At the end of a lengthy legal procedure the District Court held that "this was the most sophisticated fraud case of the fake execution of a huge deal in land", condemned the middlemen in a variety of serious charges, sent them to jail and imposed heavy fines on them [Criminal Case 1071/01 .] The convicted appealed the Supreme Court. Appeal resulting in an extension of Rabinowitz's prison term with a certain reduction in fines imposed on him. Morgerstern appeal was rejected in part and accepted in part. Either way, the Supreme Court accepted the decision of the District that the transaction had taken place with deception and deceit [according to 4354/08]. Finally, the land remained in the hands of Patriarchate and the JNF lost the money.

Dubious dismissal

After the death of Diaodoros the Synod (the supreme council of the Church) convened in 2001 and Irineos the First was appointed as the Patriarch. For two years, Sharon's Government failed to recognize the appointment because it feared the pro-Palestinian position of Irineos, and as the Patriarch role is analogous to the role of Qadi and head there is no validity without Government approval. In January of 2004, Irineos was recognized by the Israeli Government.

Contrary to concerns, Irineos cooperated with the Jews. 
The Palestinians were furious when they discovered in March 2005 that he had he sold large properties in the Old City to companies associated with Ateret Cohanim. Church leaders convened, and in June 2005 the members of the Synod decided to dismiss Irineos and demoted to a junior monk. In his place they appointed Teofolos  Inofolos as the new Patriarch. We will try to understand later who was pulling the strings behind the scenes of this appointment. Since then Irineos has been imprisoned in a small room in the Patriarchate, unable to leave or communicate with the outside world. He receives his food via a basket which he pulls up by a rope every day from a Christian Arab family that feels sorry for him. His only contact with the outside world is via his lawyer. The Israeli Government has never taken responsibility and has not tried to intervene or help him even though he cooperated with the Jewish People and the land he sold to Jews is of strategic importance.
Incidentally, dismissal of a ruling Patriarch has been never happened since the founding of the Greek - Orthodox Church in 1054, and is contrary to Church law according to which the Patriarch has divine spiritual authority and lifetime tenure.

Unexplained recognition

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had strongly objected to the removal of Irineos and would not recognize Teofolos as his substitute. As a result, Teofolos had no constitutional authority regarding the Church's assets. But on 16 December 2007, two years later, the Olmert Government decided to recognize Teofolos the Third as Patriarch (Resolution 2775). Since his appointment, the new Patriarch began in the courts to deny the transactions Irineos made with companies linked to Ateret Cohanim. He argued through his lawyers that they were not authorized, and are invalid.
The story is not over. JNF filed for a huge claim in the amount of NIS 80 million against attorney Yaakov Weinroth, claiming he was responsible for the failure of the first transaction from which they had suffered great financial losses. At the same time, six months ago Teofolos sold the land lease rights for land in Rehavia and Talbiyeh to a group of U.S. investors led by (or mediated by) the Noga Ben David family.
Up to here is a summary of events that are known and published, and from here we move on to the new discoveries in the affair.

The dubious deal

At a hearing held last month in Jerusalem District Court Alon Yoeli, the attorney representing the JNF stood at the dais. Yoeli argued before Judge Moshe Bar Am that JNF claims from then Patriarchate a total of $ 13 million (!), a asked to amend the Statement of Defense of the JNF in the case in which the Patriarchate demands to completely cancel the agreement from 2000 and all actions taken pursuant thereto.
According to Yoeli, between the JNF and the Patriarchate there was a secret pact, according to which the JNF would claim that the transaction in 2000 was proper, but it would be prepared to give up its rights to the land and leave it with the Patriarchate in return for compensation of $ 13 million to be paid it by the Patriarchate.
This argument struck me as most odd: after all the District Court and the Supreme Court ruled in a criminal verdict that the story was one big scam, pure baloney! Although the stamps were authentic the Patriarch himself did not sign and the signature on the document was fake. So why did the JNF have to "give up" land? And why suddenly did the Patriarchate agreed to pay it a sum so high on a deal that had never taken place? Immediately after the hearing I tried to get an explanation from the lawyers but they all remained silent.
To find out what happened we submitted an application to the court to review the case. Permission came after a lengthy discussion with the spokespeople of the courts. One damp and steamy morning I arrived at the District Court on Salah -a Din and I received a huge trunk of the case to review on the bench in the corridor. My time was short. I started poking around quickly at the thousands of documents that crowd the portfolio, looking for the important document, and the timetable of the case.
And what was discovered? The secret agreement! And alongside it was also filed the secret correspondence between the Patriarchate and the JNF.
It turns out that since the beginning of 2006, after the ouster of Irineos and the election of Teophilos, secret negotiations were held between representatives of the Patriarchate - Attorneys Rami Mughrabi and Samer Zoubi - and the JNF, as Teophilos was "the main factor, leading and deciding on behalf of the Patriarchate."  The agreement described the willingness of the sides "to arrange, by the way of compromise and peace, the disputes between the Patriarchate to the JNF," and talked about two options: draft A and draft B.. There were two alternatives: the Patriarchate would pay the JNF $ 13 million for a waiver by the JNF of the land in Rehavia and Talbieh (it was agreed that the claims of the JNF against third parties that gypped it would remain), or that the JNF will acquire the rights over these lands for a period of 150 years in exchange for a pittance of $ 4.5 million. In both cases it was clear that the primary goods that the JNF sells to Teophilos is recognition of the Israeli 
 Government of his appointment.

And here is the land mine: Section 3 of the contract states that immediately upon receipt of the letter of recognition from the Government of Israel of the election of Teophilos the Third, the elected Patriarch would  be responsible to get the approval by the Synod to the transaction within 7 days of approval by the Government.
A draft agreement submitted as an appendix to the claim (Minutes of the meeting that took place in the offices of Attorney Yaakov Weinroth in Tel Aviv on -12.03.07) makes things much clearer. Section 6.2 to the contract expressly states: "the said summary stated in this protocol and everything related to it shall be null if Government approval is not received by 15.08.07" (the recognition of Teophilos was exactly a month after that date).

The tough questions 

When I reached these lines the warning lights became red beams with a deafening siren:
Could it be that this is the story of a shady deal sponsored by the Government of Israel? Is it possible that this entire deal was only the Government's agreement to recognize the illegal dismissal of the head of the Church and appointment to its head of a corrupt element in his place in exchange for bribes in order to remove the shame of the failed transaction that it itself was involved in it? Did Israel once again abandon an ally who was dismissed just because he sold property to Jews? Could it be that elements in the JNF were afraid of exposing their failure and preferred to return the money quickly to the pot before the state comptroller found out the story?  Is it possible that the Israeli Government may have abandoned strategic assets that were purchased by Jews legally for a fistful of Dollars?

Lost everything

At the end of the episode JNF both ate the smelly fish and was expelled from the city. Teophilos went against the State and postponed the signing of the contract on the grounds that as long as he was not actually the Patriarch, he could not sign on transactions. The State for some unknown reason did not wait until his final signature and confirmed the appointment. Once Steofolos received the recognition he abandoned all the understandings.  Serious allegations are raised by the JNF in a long series of correspondence between the JNF and Patriarchy, describing how it feels betrayed by Teophilos and his lawyers. According to the picture it paints, the Patriarch deceived it throughout the process of negotiations. There is now an ongoing legal dispute between the JNF and the Patriarchate as to whether the Patriarchate is obligated to honor the agreement and pay the $ 13 million.
Another interesting item that came up before my eyes during my review of documents related to the identity of the organizers of the new transaction - Attorney Yaakov Weinroth. And why it is surprising? That following the deal in 2000 the JNF file a civil suit against Weinroth totaling  NIS 80 million. So it is written in the lawsuit: "... In these meetings, conversations and correspondence Mr. Weinroth presented it (the purchase of Patriarchate land,  YY) as extremely urgent and a historic opportunity for the redemption of land in Jerusalem ...that from what he said gave the impression that the things he presented were personally known to him and that he was in contact with the deceased Patriarch, and was negotiating with him ... Attorney Weinroth did not reveal to those hearing him that he had never personally met with the late Patriarch or with anyone representing the Patriarchate, he never spoke with any of them and he had no personal knowledge of his own if the things he brought before State officials were to correct or not. "  To these things was even added a document signed by Weinroth demonstrating the urgency of the transaction. In light of this the question relating to the JNF sharpens :  If the JNF thinks that Weinroth hurt it then why did it use him as an intermediary in a second transaction? How does one sue someone while using him as an intermediary at the same time in a transaction on the same matter?
Weinroth's version, as presented later, only sharpens the question on the conduct of the JNF.

The sources are talking

At this point we realized that the second deal conceals secret agreements that were not reported and we out to search for them. The main surprising findings we discovered in the incident can be read in the box under the headline “The damning findings”. Each line there is backed by documents held by the editors. But to find out the story thoroughly, we had to also reach the characters involved in the case and hear their version.
According to the lawsuit and according to other sources, one of the elements involved in the affair was the Minister of Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan, who headed the Ministerial Committee for the Patriarchate. The Patriarch, according to the lawsuit, confirmed to him the undertaking. I tried to clarify with Eitan what took place there, but his response was sharp and severe: "What would I gain? What did I gain from the Patriarchate affair? Why should I talk about it? There is nothing in it for me! I'm already far away from that story for three or four years and I have nothing  to add ".
Another lawyer with whom I tried to talk to represents a senior element involved in the affair. He only heard the request on the phone and cried: "I very much ask not to bother me! I very much ask you not to talk to me and bother me!" And hung up.

Box A

There is no economic logic

The story of Attorney K

I met with K in his office. We are talking about a senior lawyer who is familiar with the characters and the dynamics going on there. It was important to K to maintain complete confidentiality, and so parts of what he said are not printed out of concern for what would happen to him.
How do you figure this deal where Patriarchate is committed to pay $ 13 million, seemingly against all economic logic?
"You got the point. After all, already  in November 2007 there was a criminal conviction of the intermediaries  that was very significant in terms of civil law. The question is why the Patriarchate returns the money that it had not received. It could have proceeded quietly in light of the criminal verdict, that reached a level of proof that is much higher than in a civil case. There is no risk from its standpoint and it did not have to 'buy risk’. If we look at the story from a business perspective it is throwing money in vain. "
Would you make a connection between the deal and the Government recognition of the problematic Teofolos appointment?
"You see, those who threw the $ 13 million were not naive. There was a lengthy negotiation and everyone understood what they were doing. The only explanation could be is the agreement between  Teofolos and the Israeli Government according to which he was willing to pay 13 million to get the recognition. As shown, it is written in this agreement that it  will take effect only then after he is Patriarch and only then could he honor it.
"I know in depth the background of the struggle for the appointment of Teofolos that lasted about two years, within whose framework there were all the time contacts and negotiations with him and Irineos and all kinds of intermediaries who came and went, locals and foreigners. His appointment was in the balance and at some point he realized he needed to pay for it with a lot of money. But the story here is also the fact that the JNF took Weinroth as their representative in the second transaction ".
You mean the fact that the JNF took Weinroth as their attorney, even though it is demanding NIS 80 million over the failure of the deal in 2000?
"Exactly. But the explanation is very simple. Weinroth personally represented JNF chairman Effi Stenzler. The whole process was very puzzling. The JNF was undecided as to whether to file a third party notice (a civil suit, YY) against Weinroth. They rejected the whole thing and waited for the end of criminal proceedings. But seven years passed and they had to decide whether to file the lawsuit before the statute of limitations. They reached an agreement with Weinroth that they would not file against him at that same stage of the claim and he, in return, would sign for them on a paper in which he pledges not to raise the claim of statute of limitations if a third party notice is filed later.
"In the struggle against Simhon, Weinroth represented Stenzler. The hearings took place in court in Petah Tikva before Judge Hila Grestler. I do not know if Stenzler hurt the interests of the JNF when he took Weinroth as an intermediary in the transaction, but in any case there is a clear conflict of interest alleged."
For the first transaction, how is it that so many smart people and experienced fell for such fraud?
"This whole story stinks and there were many warning signs. Halleli for example, representing the JNF, never made it to the signing. He then explained that he lived in Haifa and every time he traveled specially to Jerusalem he was informed that the signing is postponed, time after time, until one Friday he was called to come but do not have the energy to travel and he sent the Tanuri who had no understanding in the field. It was a transparent exercise. They wanted to shake him off and just wore him down.
"And there is something else odd. Apparently intermediaries told Weinroth to prepare 16 checks. And I ask why? After all it was clear that this is fraud. In such a situation even if one is not stealing from the seller then one is steal form the income tax authorities. How does a lawyer with the status and experience of Weinroth not get it ? "
Did those who cooked up this dubious transaction knew that by recognizing Teofolos they were abandoning the assets bought at full price by Ateret Cohanim?
"The Ateret Cohanim people opposed the deal for ideological reasons. They were not prepared to accept the fact that Israel would help in the dismissal of a person who collaborated and sold land to Jews, like the SLA fighters who were betrayed. Whoever signed the deal knew very well that Ateret Cohanim  opposed.  But they preferred this deal that gave them a chance to erase the great fiasco.
"It's not just $ 13 million. The Patriarchate also promised to give the JNF the right to sue all the scammers and third parties. In addition, the State took $ 5 million in Switzerland, and there are other millions sitting with Weinroth, so it was very lucrative for the JNF to screw Ateret Cohanim and the poor Patriarch Irineos who was sitting in prison for collaborating with the Jews. These things did not interest them.
"And I tell you something else. They were very scared that this story would reach the state comptroller, that those who gave the money – the State - should establish a commission of inquiry and check why the money did not reach its destination and how such senior official elements relied with their eyes closed on Weinroth rather than checking things out in a professional way. There were many heads that might fly in the wake of this committee, and it was important for them to return the money and silence the story. "

Box B:
"We have been deceived from head to toe"

The story of Dr. Jacob Weinroth

I meet Jacob Weinroth in his vast office in Weizmann Tower in Tel Aviv. The senior lawyer who is considered a talented and successful litigator in Israel is in a difficult personal period. In the trial of his life, the esteemed attorney is trying to convince Judge Gilad Noitl that the fact that he charged low fees to certain customers was not due to expectation of indirect compensation. At the same time, he runs a defensive battle against the JNF that is demanding a huge sum from him for the failure of the sale of Patriarchate land and against Ezra Aorkbi and Shahar Ben Ami who say he tricked them and denied them the lawyer’s fee from the case. But Weinroth is mostly hurt and felt betrayed. His feeling is that interested parties and powerful forces are taking the opportunity to hurt him and fill the pot on his back, that all his actions and his life's work did not stand for him on his public judgment day,  and that his friends and the public that benefited from him over the years turned their backs on him.
The moment our eyes met there was a pristine and short moment when I suddenly realized the difference between inside and outside. Between the successful and prestigious super brand, big money, relationships, professional and political power, and the person standing behind all the degrees and masks. When you return to the person, Weinroth mentioned in another context, "we all are of the earth." We all stand on the same ground. Emotions are the same and weaknesses are the same weaknesses. The absurdity is that there is an inverse relationship between talent and power of the man and his vulnerability. "My blood is abandoned," says Weinroth, "for the simple reason that more can be squeezed from me. That's the way it is, the greater the reputation the greater the ability to blackmail you."
Weinroth says the biggest stakeholders in the deal was the JNF itself, that was yearning for these lands long before he came into the picture. As proof against the claims of the JNF and Attorney K he hands me a document of the JNF from 1999 in which Attorney Halali of the JNF applies to Mr. Tanuri  vice president of acquisitions and registrations, regarding land acquisition, and recommends the deal with Rabinowitz to him. "And this at a stage that I didn’t even know Rabinowitz." These documents prove in his opinion that the JNF invested great effort to purchase land in the two years before 2000, so that they cannot argue that their consent to the deal was just because they 'trusted Weinroth’.
"When Rabinowitz came to me he had two things for his identification, a letter from the JNF and the deal he made with the Patriarch in Beit Shemesh for an astronomical sum of $ 300 million. This was the only successful deal with them. We had no reason to suspect him. At the end we were deceived from top to bottom in the most blatant way.
"Besides, also in the deal itself, we demanded that a representative of the JNF come with us to the signing. The one who was supposed to be present was Attorney Halali, but instead Attorney Tanuri came in his place. Tanuri is deputy director of special affairs in the administration who did huge deals before I was born. I forwarded the checks only after the notary came downstairs and said that the certificate was signed in his presence, and showed me a copy of the ID card. You see, we were told that only three can go up because the Patriarch was in a difficult situation. Clearly Rabinowitz had to go as he was he intermediate, and the doctor had to make sure that the Patriarch was clear and competent to sign. Now the question was who would be the third: I who was only giving professional coverage, or notary Abraham Perry who was much more qualified than me when it comes to verifying signatures. Of course it was better to let the Perry go up.
"I did not stop there and went upstairs, I said to the Patriarch in English, ‘thank you for signing the papers and I intend to make future transactions with you.’ He said, ‘Thank you, come here again’, and all that when the man from the JNF was standing next to me. What else am I supposed to do? ".
Weinroth has no regrets over the transaction of 2007. Irineos in his view was a very bad choice. "He hurt everything he could to harm Israel. We wanted that Israel would not approve the appointment, and use that lever to persuade him to do the transaction and redeem the land. The element from the Government then was Meir Shitrit. It was when we saw that Irineos declared he would not do deals with Israel . I did not see anything wrong with Israel telling him it was depriving him of the certification as long as he would not release the land. "
So how did he get the appointment despite this?
"The one who pushed him was Yaakov Neeman."
Why did Neeman do this?
"Because Irineos paid him a lot of money. He also assured Neeman and said he would fix the problems, but after that he dropped him and took Gilad Sher in his place. The discussion was like Ping-Pong. Finally, the State appointed him without any compensation and I think the appointment was a disaster, and he did nothing with the land. The man was clearly pro-Palestinian conflict regardless of the issue of land. I in any case had no role in his appointment. "
If he was so much trouble why he sold properties to Jews?
"At one point he began to feel the ground burning under his feet. He thought he could make deals with the Jews and it would save him. He sold properties in the Old City and a minute later would take care to publicize it and acted to issue an injunction against the purchasers."
After all, history tends to repeat itself. How do you explain that although they knew Steofolos was very problematic and that he would hurt the purchase of assets by Jews that the State still decided to recognize him?
"You have to understand that Irineos was brought down by the Church and then the name of Teofolos came up and he was elected by the Church. The State of Israel could not really oppose this because it could not interfere in the business of the Church. By the way, in the entire matter of the appointments there were security elements that gave their opinions on the people  and Teofolos was perceived as pro-Israeli. "
Why represent the JNF as they sue you and when you are acting as Effie Stenzler’s attorney?
"The moment the affair broke Effie Stenzler explicitly advised that he does not intervene in matters of the JNF that Jacob Weinroth was involved in. He did not lift a finger, so there is no conflict of interest ".
And why did the JNF refuse to reach an agreement with you and sue you today for NIS 80 million?
"I am abandoned for the simple reason that I can be squeezed for more. The higher the reputation the easier to blackmail you. I told them that I honestly deserved the money, but yet if it turns out that nothing came of the deal I will return it. I suggested that they contend the validity of the transaction in court and if it falls to quickly go to arbitration of a week when I accept all the conclusions of the court criminal case. They refused because they knew that when they sue me they will have a great ability to extort me.  If I was only an attorney my situation would be different today. What happened was I became a public figure, a symbol for many sectors, and I paid a heavy price. As a result, I decided from here on retreat from the public stage. At this stage of life I'm going to go into myself. "
Who do you blame for this affair?
"I do not know who to blame, but what is clear is that the State of Israel zig zagged between Irineos and Teofolos and ended up being screwed by both. If Israel had talked straight to Teofolos it could have been that the deal would had been already signed today. Anyway, Israel has lost its ability to influence bodies located in eastern Jerusalem. The Patriarchs all said that once Israel had said it might withdraw from eastern Jerusalem, that they could  no longer trust it, because tomorrow they will have to work with the Palestinians and Jordanians and what will they do then. They have very little room to maneuver now. "
I hear from you say that to the extent that Israel abandons  the east of the city then it will indirectly also lose its grasp on large strategic areas in the west?
"It seems clear to me."

Box C:
Pure and holy

The story of Mr. A.

I meet A. in a prestigious office in one of the most famous business office towers in Israel. A. has many years of familiarity with Diaodoros, Irineos and Teofolos, the Patriarchs who headed the Greek Orthodox Church over the past decade. A. agreed to shed some light on the conduct of the controversial Church leaders.
With your permission I would like to begin with the first transaction in 2000. How do you explain the conduct of the mediators of this transaction? After all, there were a lot of red lights. The Government and the JNF did not suspect anything when they were asked to distribute the money in so many checks?
"See, everyone knew that the Patriarch did not put the money in the Patriarchate. It was no secret and because and that a lot of checks were needed. Everything took place under abnormal conditions and all the time there were elements within the Church who were trying to blow up everything. This was not a normal real estate transaction. The truth is that the JNF representatives were aware of all of it and agreed to kick in ".
From what you know, what was the part of Patriarch Diadoros in this fraud?
"The court does not go into the question of the validity of the transaction and did not discount the possibility that elements in the Church were involved in the scam. There were after all things that were very unpleasant about Diaodoros in the background all the time. There was a nun who cared for him and his relationship with her was complex to say the least. He ran a problematic parallel intimate relationship with Timothy, one of the senior members of the Church who kept trying to torpedo the deal. He also had illicit liaisons with Jewish minors in Israel and the Church very much did not want it all out. They were afraid someone would leaked details about the conduct of Diaodoros and therefore were also willing to make a deal to silence those involved. By the end of his life he decided that he wanted to make money for himself. We knew some of the money will enter into his pocket and not the Church. Of course it was all coordinated with him. There are those who claim that he did not understand the English of Weinroth but I certainly do not buy this argument. "
What do you think really happened in his room when Rabinowitz went in?
"What happened is he made a deal with Rabinowitz and Sussman (another broker in the deal, YY), and at the end of the day he told them: 'I do not want to sign in order not to show my personal signature on the documents’. In response Rabinowitz and Sussman did not give him his share and the entire story exploded. I heard the attorney Elhanani who said in the name of Sussman that there were more than 3.5 million dollars, some of which he held for the Patriarch, so it was clear that $ 10 million were lost on the way. After all, if 3.5 was found with Sussman and 6 by Rabinowitz 6, the balance of the money apparently reached the Patriarch or people on his behalf.  The nun I mentioned, Lukrama, stood beside him during the signing and had left the country immediately after the transfer of funds and did not return. By the way, today, when there are relations with Romania as part of the EU, it is possible to collect evidence from Ms. Lukrama.
"By the way, also Sussman who spent many years in Romania and only recently was extradited to Israel, and sits here in Hadarim Prison today, says these things exactly. He argues that the Patriarch received at least $ 3.5 million."
Then the second deal began to develop, in which Theophilos promised $ 13 million in return for recognition?
"Yes. Theophilos promised all sorts of things. He sat in the office of Jacob Weinroth, in the presence of the JNF people and retired judges. He took the contract and clearly stated that it was the wording, and said that if he would be appointed and received recognition from the Government of Israel that he would sign the contract. The transaction was very simple, the appointment for money ".
Beyond the serious ethical flaw there are also national considerations. Did the ministers know about the agreements Steofolos made with the Palestinians, did they know that by recognizing him that they were abandoning assets purchased by Jews in Jerusalem?
"Actually, I thought that if Steofolos was elected that he would resolve all the problems of the Jewish buyers because he told us: 'What are they stupid? Why they do they buy under the name Ateret Cohanim? They should buy it under a company registered in the name of Christian fundamentalists. There was a sense that he would reach an agreement with the purchasers.
"Theophilos from his standpoint did not rest on his laurels. He met with Tzachi Hanegbi and Rafi Eitan and with the Prime Minister, and even operated an international  diplomatic system through Greece. He made declarations that were easy for Israeli ears. The intermediary went to ministers and persuaded them not to make the mistake we did with Irineos, who received the appointment without having to commit to anything."

Recent developments - the Attorney General intervenes

In recent days Attorney Sarit Dana submitted on behalf of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein application to join the Jerusalem District Court case in which the Patriarchate demands from Himnuta the cancellation of the Himnuta transaction and which requires the Patriarch to pay it the $ 13 million which it claims he had committed to.  So opens the Attorney General’s request to join, "by virtue of the authority of the Attorney General ... and after seeing that the rights of the State of Israel or of public interest may be affected or bound by the proceedings before the honorable court ...". Further on the Attorney General authorizes "each State Attorney of all branches to be representative of the Attorney General in this proceeding." Background on the intervention of Attorney General can be read in the framed article.
Finally, to try and crack the secret of blindness, vandalism, dullness and stupidity of this Kafkaesque story – one should recall the words of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov 200 years ago. In one of  his teachings the righteous Hasid wrote a brief paragraph, laconic but significant, about the strong resemblance between sexual desire and financial greed "(Likutey Moharan 141,23) Big money apparently has a physical and emotional effect that causes some people to lose their judgment of reality. Like sexual desire, the sight of cash or fantasies they about them evoke in those with high risk factors all the senses. Increased blood pressure, breathing becomes deeper and slower, pupils dilate, the visual field is reduced, heart rate increases.
The frenzy of desire is a consistent biological mechanism: the way down the slippery slope begins in a conscious or partially conscious choice, but then tends to snowball out of control emotionally. This is generally the stage when even the most sophisticated and careful players start to make mistakes.

Central Box

The incriminating evidence

New findings on the secret deal that the State wove behind the scenes via Minister Rafi Eitan for the approval and recognition of Teofolos and the dismissal of Irineos in exchange for $ 13 million, and the deep involvement of the prosecution and the attorney general of the previous administration in the controversial deal and why these days the Attorney General requested to join as a party to proceedings in the District Court?
 To understand what happened in the affair of the appointment of Teofolos we will go back in the chronological order of events. All of the information listed below is backed by documents that reached Makor Rishon:
• In March 2005, the newspaper Ma'ariv, published an article written by Kalman Libeskind on the involvement of the Patriarch Ireneos in transactions with Jewish elements in the Jaffa Gate Square Plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem.
• Apparently, as a results of this in May 2005 the Synod decided to depose Patriarch Irineos and appoint Teofolos.
• Then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided not to recognize Teofolos as Patriarch since removal of Irineos took place only because he sold property to Jews.
• In August 2005, Teofolos turned to the Palestinians and Jordanians to recognize him. He signed a document in which he commits that "upon my election to the throne of the Holy Patriarch of Jerusalem I will work to cancel all powers of attorney made on behalf of the deposed Patriarch Irineos the First to anyone on the matter of real estate holdings of the Church in Jerusalem." Photocopies of documents reached Makor Rishon, and it was also published in the newspaper Al - Quds' on 19.08.2005.
• October 2005 Teofolos petitioned the Court of Justice against the Israeli Government and asked the court to order the state to recognize it (appeal 9970/05).
• the response of the State to the Supreme Court was given on November 2005 with the State wishing to reject the petition "due to a serious lack of integrity”   It writes in its response that, "The proceedings to dismiss the respondent Irineos was not recognized by the Israeli Government" and that "the Government will establish a special ministerial committee for the subject matter. " The State also wrote that :" For the avoidance of doubt if any such exists, it should be emphasized that this move of the petitioners (Teofolos) has no binding legal effect in Israel, as the Government did not cancel the recognition given Irineos ... And note, the Government is committed, and certainly where it is the matter of a desire to halt the tenure of a high-ranking religious function, to maintain an orderly administrative procedure ...".
• In July 2007, Rafi Eitan appointed chairman of the Ministerial Committee on the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.
• The negotiations between the Patriarch Teofolos and his attorney Remy Mughrabi and representatives of the JNF Avraham Duvdevani and Menachem Leibovitz, ministers and two retired judges are held in the office of Attorney Yaakov Weinroth in March 2007. At this meeting Teofolos undertakes to pay a total of $ 13 million to the JNF in exchange for the JNF waiving the land. Article 6.2 of the agreement stipulates that if the Government does not recognize him by the date of 15.08.2007 the agreement will be void.
• On -28.10.2007 a ministerial committee meets chaired by Minister Eitan and decides to recommend to the Government to recognize Teofolos as Patriarch, despite commitments to the Palestinians which Teofolos signed.
• On 12.10.2007 Minister Yitzhak Cohen, a member of the Committee of Ministers, turns to the Secretariat of the Government, demanding "a document with the position of Teofolos regarding the commitments that are attributed to him, namely his commitments to the Government of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority", and argues that "as of today no explanations and accompanying documents have been received” .
• The new position of the Legal Advisor to the Prime Minister was presented to the members of the Government by Attorney Shlomit Barnea - Fargo. She writes: "The Patriarch Irineos claims that the dismissal was illegal ... the authority of the Government not to give written recognition of the Patriarch who was elected by the Synod is conditional on the Government being convinced that there are special reasons relating to Israel's interests that justify not giving the Letter of Recognition ... the Ministerial committee examining the issue found no such reasons. "Clearly this was completely opposite from the position of the attorney general in 2005.
• In response to an inquiry by the Minister Cohen regarding the commitments of Teofolos to the Palestinians, Rafi Eitan on 18.11.2007 presented his position before the Cabinet. He set that "the Patriarch Teofolos operates under the principle of equality irrespective of race, religion or nationality. All acts of the Patriarch are based on the decisions of the Synod without any commitment to third parties and without any discrimination".
• The incriminating document:  On Thursday -16.12.2007 a letter was sent from Rafi Eitan to Samuel Hayek from the JNF. It said this: "Here is a copy of the letter we received from you, sent to you from Teofolos the Third.  The contents of the letter was verbally confirmed. "
• The document in question came to Makor Rishon, in which Teofolos the Third commits that the date in Section 6.2 in the secret document which was drawn in the office of Jacob Weinroth in the presence of representatives of the JNF and the Government was postponed to 10 June 2008.
• On that same day the Government decides to approve the appointment of Teofolos, in accordance with the proposal that was placed before it that includes the determination of Rafi Eitan, according to which Teofolos acts in equality and so on. Incidentally, in the section "economic data and impact on the State Economy" is written - not applicable (no reference to the transaction with the JNF).
Explanation of Eitan’s deal:  The agreement between Teofolos and the JNF was time bound. Teofolos pressured Israel to quickly approve the appointment and was willing to pay $ 13 million by a certain date. The problem is that the Government "did not manage" to finish the process of recognition of his appointment until that date, and thus Rafi Eitan arranged to receive from Teofolos a commitment to extend the expiration date of the contract before it was brought to the Government for decision, a commitment given by Teofolos verbally, and as said, Teofolos deceived the Government and did not honor his word..
After the Government decision, Irineos submitted to the Supreme Court against his dismissal on the grounds that the Government could not withdraw recognition from him (10615/07). The Attorney General in his response dated 19.12.2007 submitted a stunning message: "The Government was given the position of the Attorney General that the interests of the Government are served by providing the letter of recognition, and that claims about the internal procedures of the Patriarchate and the conduct of the affairs of the Synod are not matters that the Government should or is authorized to decide upon."  There is no mention of the secret agreement recognizing Teofolos.
The Government did not reveal that a secret deal was hatched between it and Teofolos regarding remuneration for the appointment. The Attorney General collaborated with the deal in this his statement. Is this the reason that the Attorney General now seeks to join as a party to the proceeding?
Both sides are hiding: In an amendment of the Statement of Defense, in which the JNF claims the agreement amount - 13 million - and the response of the Patriarch to this demand there is no mention of the deal to recognize Teofolos. Attorney Samer Zoubi argued against the Jewish National Fund that if in 2000 the transaction never took place, that there is no basis for the said agreement, that the Patriarchate is required to 'pay' for the land only if it is indeed sold them. It follows that he declares to the court that the agreement is related to the transaction of 2000 and not to remuneration for the recognition of Teofolos, a seemingly clear contradiction of the findings of the documents that reached Makor Rishon .
Deposed Patriarch Irineos response, delivered by his lawyer Daniel Robbins:
Patriarch Irineos imprisoned behind bars since 2007 has set telephone contact with many followers and thus the findings of the investigation Makor Rishon reached him. If it is true, the Patriarch takes a grave view of the unholy alliance that exists between Teofolos and state agencies in the State of Israel, which together misled the Supreme Court. The Patriarch considers his steps on the issue.

The response of the Jewish National Fund

JNF were referred the following questions:
1. Why did the JNF agree in an agreement between it and the Greek Patriarchate to make do with compensation of $ 13 million for a land deal in Rehavia - Talbiyeh and did not demanded from the Church the full amount of 20 million dollars?
2. How does the JNF claim the existence of the land deal coincide with the clear criminal case statement that there has been no deal?
3. How did the JNF in 2007 hire Attorney Weinroth to represent it when it was sued by him regarding  the previous deal?
4. Isn’t the hiring of Weinroth by JNF a conflict of interest?
5. Is his employment by the JNF related to his employment by Stenzler in his struggle against Simhon?
6. Isn’t there a conflict of interest on Stenzler’s side?
7. What explanation is there that the JNF sued Weinroth while Mr. Tanuri was present at the signing on its behalf and approved it?
Answers JNF
Question No. 1:
The amount is determined a settlement.
Question No. 2:
These are legal claims brought before the courts.
Question No. 3-5:
The questions distorting reality.  Mr. Weinroth did not represent the Jewish National Fund.
Questions No. 5-7:
Mr. Efi Stenzler did not serve as chairman of the JNF at the time of the approval of the transaction. Furthermore, upon taking office Mr. Stenzler completely cut off ties to the entire matter of the Patriarchate and avoided dealing in the subject in any aspect.

Το παραπάνω κείμενο είναι δημοσιευμένο στο διαδίκτυο με την μορφή :

DOC]Protection of the justice / Yehuda Yifrach - Yimg


"Ωμά ψεύδη που δεν έχουν την παραμικρή βάση αλήθειας είναι , είναι όσα γράφονται κατά 
του Πατριαρχείου και εμού προσωπικώς. Ως εκ τούτου, δεν υπάρχει κανένας λόγος να 
απαντήσω σε αυτές τις συκοφαντίες και έτσι να τους δώσω υπόσταση. Οι επαίοντες που 
γνωρίζουν καλά τα πράγματα στα Ιεροσόλυμα, διαβάζουν όσα γράφονται και γελούν".

 Αυτά είναι τα λόγια του Πατριάρχη Ιεροσολύμων, κ. Θεόφιλου, για τις κατηγορίες που είδαν 
προ εβδομάδων το φως της δημοσιότητας στον ισραηλινό Τύπο. Σύμφωνα με αυτές, 
ο κ. Θεόφιλος «αγόρασε» τον Πατριαρχικό Θρόνο αντί 13 εκατ. δολαρίων και 
έχει συμφωνήσει παρασκηνιακά με Ισραηλινούς για την πώληση εκκλησιαστικής γης.
Το Πατριαρχείο, από την πλευρά του, έχει καταθέσει αγωγή κατά της 
μεγάλης κεντροαριστερής ισραηλινής εφημερίδας «Haaretz», 
η οποία αναπαρήγαγε αυτές τις πληροφορίες.

Πηγή:  Εφημερίδα Ελεύθερος Τύπος, των δημοσιογράφων:

Τίτλος άρθρου:

Ο Θεόφιλος, ο Θρόνος, τα 13 εκατ. δολάρια και η εκκλησιαστική γη».

Αρχειοθήκη ιστολογίου