|Israel Resource Review
||27th December, 2004
Has the Israeli Government Been
Using Holocaust Terminology to Promote Their
Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dekalim
On the Fast
Day of the Tenth of Tevet we collectively recall the siege of
Jerusalem by the Romans to starve the Jews and to drive them out
of the Land of Israel.
Thousands of years later, on this same date, a dozen citizens of Gush
Katif stood in front of the Knesset wearing a Star of David -- colored
orange, the Gush Katif color - similar to the yellow star, the symbol of
Why are our Jews wearing the orange star that is so severely condemned
by the media? Why would a group of Holocaust survivors agree to don
this hateful symbol of their degradation? Why, indeed, is the star symbol
being used? Surely these survivors, residents of Gush Katif, could have
worn an orange square or rectangle to demonstrate their anger and
despair at being, once again, expelled from their homes. For many it is
their third expulsion - from Europe, from Yamit in Sinai, and now from
Gush Katif. How do a husband and wife, in their eighties, with Auschwitz
numbers on their arms express their recurring nightmare of being driven
out? And this time the expulsion will include four generations:
themselves, their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren -
all residents of Gush Katif.
The imagery of the Holocaust has been used by the government of Israel
since the beginning of its 'disengagement' campaign to terrorize the
Jews of Gush Katif into submission.
Here is a short list of some of the rhetoric used by the Prime
- The train of disengagement has left the station and cannot be stopped. [cattle cars moving inexorably to camps]
- The Israeli soldier must "obey orders". [they were only obeying orders…]
- The Jews "will go quietly". [Yonatan Bassi, head of the Expulsion Committee, the Judenrat]
- "Soon Gaza will be free of Jews" (Judenrein). [Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz]
- Homes and synagogues will be razed and destroyed. [Kristallnacht]
- Internment camps are being made ready for those who refuse to leave willingly. [camps!]
- The Jews will be "relocated". [to the East?]
- The area around Gush Katif will be isolated. Only residents will be allowed in. [Warsaw Ghetto]
- All possessions of those who oppose the expulsion become State property. [confiscation]
- Police who refuse to expel Jews will be fired. Soldiers will be court-martialed and imprisoned.
Listening to the PMO's constant bombardment of threats and edicts is a
lesson in Holocaust jargon.
Not Yad Vashem, the Simon Weisenthal Center, not one Knesset member nor
newspaper has taken the PMO to task for their Holocaust imagery. Nor
has there been an outcry over the deed to be perpetrated against our own
people. Imagine the world outcry had this language been used against
the Arab population. Recall the cries of dismay over the photograph of an
Arab playing the violin at an army checkpoint. Would the government of
Israel threaten to raze a mosque?
I listened to Holocaust survivor and former MK Shevach Weiss. He was
horrified that Gush Katif residents had "desecrated" the memory of the
Holocaust by wearing an orange Star of David.
Mr. Weiss, come to Gush Katif. Bring your grandchildren. Listen to the
sound of exploding mortars and rockets. Had the Almighty not protected
us we would have seen the butchery of the Jewish people - a
mini-Holocaust. If you cannot come now, please be here to watch the Jewish
families put onto trucks and carted away. Please be here and watch 21
synagogues burn to the ground.
Is it any wonder we are wearing the star?
Friends, wherever you are, wear something orange to show you identify
with Gush Katif.
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Warning to President Bush:
Beware of the Gaza Trap
Dr. Rand H. Fishbein
President of Fishbein Associates, Inc
a public-policy consulting firm based in Potomac, Maryland
Is a Gaza
withdrawal a good idea? Well it may be for the Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon and for some of his close supporters, but it most
certainly is not for the U.S. President and the war on
terrorism. More to the point, President Bush's cooperation in
this plan may put him in jeopardy of violating the very
anti-terrorism statutes he is sworn to uphold. As a consequence,
U.S. national security could be significantly undermined. The
political cost to the President could be enormous.
The problem is this. An Israeli withdrawal from Gaza will leave the territory effectively under the control of the most radical elements in Palestinian society. Given the growing strength of Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, it is likely that one or more of these groups would emerge as the de facto authority in this lawless land.
The trouble is that all three organizations are included on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. This means that no U.S. citizen, business or agency of government may engage in any activity which directly or indirectly supports or sustains a relationship with these organizations. This includes the President of the United States.
Such activity effectively promotes terrorism, thereby giving aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States. It might even be the case that the use of U.S. appropriated funds to support the Bush-Sharon diplomatic initiative falls within the prohibition.
The U.S. has designated Hamas a Foreign Terrorist Organization (66 Fed. Reg. 51088) and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224, "Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions with Persons who Commit, or Support Terrorism."
By acceding to Sharon's withdrawal plan, and with no legal safeguards in place, President Bush could be seen as assisting in the establishment of a terrorist haven in the heart of the Middle East. For without the President's agreement and promises of aid, it is unlikely that Sharon would be willing to go forward with his initiative. In effect, the U.S. President becomes the necessary and essential catalyst that allows terrorist forces to seize control of Gaza.
President Bush may find it difficult to explain to a skeptical public why it was important to destroy the terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan and Iraq while at the same time he is permitting it to flourish in Gaza.
A host of U.S. statutes expressly prohibit Americans from giving assistance to named terrorist states and organizations. They include:
Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 that prohibits individuals from providing support to foreign organizations that engage in terrorist activities and provides for the designation of "terrorist organizations" by the Secretary of State.
National Defense Authorization Act for 1996 that prohibits the Defense Department from providing funds to terrorist countries or those aiding terrorists.
Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 that prohibits foreign assistance to terrorist supporting countries.
Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1996, that bars funds to countries that provide sanctuary to any individual or group responsible for terrorism or supports such terrorism.
Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1997 that bars funds to any government that provides lethal military equipment to a terrorist country.
Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA Patriot Act) Act of 2001 designates as "unlawful conduct" the provision of material support or resources or expert advice or assistance to a foreign terrorist organization or to conspire to do so.
President Bush's critics are sure to charge that his endorsement of the Sharon plan for Gaza does little but give a green light to terrorism. A large body of legal experts is likely to agree. For it is not simply a question of intent, but rather a matter of what the practical effects of the new policy would be. And those effects are both clear and foreseeable.
Sharon's plan is likely to facilitate the ascendancy and political cohesion of Gaza's terrorist organizations, enhancing their prestige, bolstering their recruitment and reinforcing their belief that future gains are possible in their war against Israel and the U.S. Gains of this sort would leave the Administration open to the accusation that it violated U.S. law knowing full well the likely consequences of its actions.
This is particularly true since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza would take place outside of any legal or international framework. By making the U.S. President a party to his plan, Sharon is helping to create the perception, albeit unwittingly, that the U.S. is an accessory to terrorism, not its fiercest opponent.
Moreover, it also is difficult to see how the empowerment of terrorist organizations like Hamas would advance the President's own Roadmap to Peace initiative. A unilateral action by the Israelis runs contrary to the negotiated process and timetables set forth in the initiative.
Understandably, many Palestinians are concerned that a sudden Israeli pull out from Gaza will plunge the area into anarchy, leading only to a weakening of the economy and a further deterioration in an already crippled service infrastructure.
If he agrees to back Sharon, President Bush could find himself in a situation remarkably similar to that faced by President Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal. Though it was U.S. policy not to deal with terrorist states or their surrogates, Reagan and his aides found themselves doing just that when they sold American weapons to the Iranian Government.
It may have been the Administration's purpose to open relations with Teheran and to raise funds for the Contras, but these goals could not obscure the fact that it had engaged in a transaction with a state sponsor of terrorism. This at least was the judgment of the bi-partisan committee investigating the actions of the President and his aides in 1987. The committee concluded that the Administration did just what it swore it would not do and that was to enhance the power and prestige of an avowedly terrorist state through its misguided actions.
Adding to Bush's concerns should be the fact that the Government of Egypt actively supports, or at least acquiesces, in the smuggling of weapons and other contraband to Palestinian terrorist cells operating in Gaza. Egypt permits this activity even though it has a peace treaty with Israel and receives a hefty foreign aid package from the United States totaling roughly $2.3 billion per year.
Today, Israel maintains a security buffer between the Egyptian controlled Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. For years Israel's military has worked to staunch the flow of contraband into Gaza. Their success has been limited in large part due to the lack of cooperation they receive from the Egyptians. Any hope of ending the smuggling will be lost should Israel reduce or abandon its security position along the border with Egypt.
To date the Bush Administration has done little to pressure Egypt to halt its nefarious activities. In fact, it has done just the opposite. The White House recently disclosed that it intends to provide the Mubarak Government with an additional $2 billion in loan guarantees as well as $300 million in special grant aid, amounts in excess of Egypt's annual aid package.
If the Administration believes this latest cash infusion will elicit greater cooperation from Cairo it is sorely mistaken. With Israel out of Gaza, Egypt will be able to act with impunity, escalating its support for the very terrorist forces that both the U.S. and Israel are now fighting.
The message being received in Cairo is clear. America is unwilling to hold Egypt to account. And though the actions of the Mubarak Government are avowedly antagonistic to America's broader interests in the region they nonetheless have the tacit, if not overt, blessing of the U.S. Government.
Before endorsing the Sharon plan, the White House should consider how its actions would contribute to the growth of the very terrorist forces that American soldiers are now fighting against throughout the Middle East. It is not enough for the President to oppose terrorism when it's convenient. His administration must fight the battle consistently and forcefully even if it means opposing the policies of a friendly government. In this case it means saying "No" to Sharon and his Gaza withdrawal plan before it's too late.
This piece ran on the Israel Insider web site
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Sari Nusseibeh's guile and
Editorial, the Jewish Ledger of Connecticut
On December 10, the Boston chapters of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Boston Combined Jewish Philanthropies' Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) sponsored Sari Nusseibeh, the Chancellor of Jerusalem's Al Quds University and member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's inner circle, at a luncheon attended by more than 120 people. The reason for the luncheon as explained by Nancy Kaufman of the JCRC as quoted in Boston's Jewish Advocate, was to provide "the community with the opportunity to hear from him about his expectations in a post-Arafat era and to challenge him about some of the accusations that have been made against him over the years."
There is much to say about what Jewish communal organizations should and should not be involved in as there is to say about who Sari Nusseibeh is, but we'll confine ourselves to one key remark he made during his presentation, which was a focal point of the argument made against his being invited to appear before this audience.
He was asked to explain his remark and he did. But he is on record as having addressed the same topic elsewhere, where he gave a different answer.
For what was said at the meeting we depend on a Jewish Advocate article distributed through the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) dated December 20.
For the translation of a presentation he made on Al-Jazeera, the Arab broadcaster, we use published reports from MEMRI. MEMRI's work is used by almost all western media outlets. Their site is readily available and their bonafides easily checked. They are extremely dependable and are meticulous in their translations (www.memri.org). [The Jewish Ledger subscribes to JTA and has contributed to MEMRI, which is a 501(c)(3).]
The incident and statements in question came out of an interview with Sari Nusseibeh on Al-Jazeera television. He appeared on a program with the mother of a suicide bomber who had murdered five teenage Israelis while they studied at a yeshiva.
The mother, Umm Nidal, had just expressed her pride in her son's act. All accounts agree up to this point and what the mother said is not at issue. Those who objected to Nusseibeh's appearance said that Nusseibeh then praised the mother. When asked about this at the Boston meeting he replied as follows:
"I wanted to push away from viewer's minds the emotion of the mother. At that point I said, 'I grieve with mothers, but that's not what we're here for. We're here to see whether suicide killings should be supported.' I wanted to draw the audience into a frame where I could show why I'm right and suicide attacks are wrong."
MEMRI goes to the tape of the Al-Jazeera broadcast and translates the same conversation as follows:
Referring to Umm Nidal's pride in and justification of her son's martyrdom, Professor Nusseibah glorified her, saying: "When I hear the words of Umm Nidal, I recall the [Koranic] verse stating that 'Paradise lies under the feet of mothers.'  All respect is due to this mother, it is due to every Palestinian mother and every female Palestinian who is a Jihad fighter on this land. I do not wish to mix political statements and political commentary with the respect every Palestinian feels for every Jihad fighter and for anyone who truly thinks that there is no life under the occupation, except in freedom and dignity." 
In the event one feels that this quote is taken out of context, MEMRI publishes more of that interview on their site and also references other Nusseibeh statements where he addresses the same subject. If what he said previously was what he really felt, it is clear to any reader that he was not forthright in his Boston presentation. Anyone who bothered to do the research on this man beforehand would have found that this was not an isolated incident and that Mr. Nusseibeh plays with the facts loosely on a regular basis.
A correspondent of ours in Israel, David Bedein, sent an associate to hear Nusseibeh at a conference in Herzilya the week after his December 10 presentation in Boston.
The following exchange took place: At the meeting Nusseibeh called on Palestinians to forgo their "right of return" and to eschew "the path of violence." Bedein's reporter then asked him after the meeting if what he said to this audience in English was something he would repeat to a Palestinian audience in Arabic.
Specifically, would he say the same thing on the Voice of Palestine, the official media outlet of the Palestinian Authority.
His answer: "Yes, I've been speaking…its very well known, my position is very well known…Yes my… my… my position…my position among the Palestinians and the Arab world at large is very well known: it is very clear. I write it. My plan is clear. I say what I say…." And then Nusseibeh broke off the interview and walked away.
It's a question he should have been asked in Boston too. Before he was invited there.
Footnote 1: This is not a Koranic verse, but a Hadith (tradition ascribed to Muhammad), about mothers being the highest beings, such that even Paradise is beneath their feet.
Footnote 2: Al-Jazeera television (Qatar), June 29, 2002.
This editorial ran in the
Jewish Ledger of Connecticut on December 24th, 2004
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Is There a Potential Conflict
of Interests between Shimon Peres and the Operations and
Investments of The Peace Technology Fund?
Special Israel Resource News Agency report
At a time when
Shimon Peres is once again mentioned as a candidate to return to
a senior position in the Israeli government, the time has come
for the Ethics Committee of the Knesset to ask some hard
questions about the connections between Peres and his
investments in the PTF, the Peace Technology Fund.
The Peace Technology Fund (PTF) was established on May 7th, 1998 and registered with the Registrar of Companies for the Cayman Islands. In the Fund's prospectus, it claims it's primary objective was to:
Generate profits for its investors, leveraging its unique position as a collaborative, cross- cultural operations.
The brainchild of Shimon Peres- this investment vehicle was first revealed to the international business press in June 1999 when Mr. Peres was just one month into his seat in the newly created Israeli government post of "Minister of Regional Cooperation" under the new Labor government headed by Ehud Barak. While no such ministry existed then- it was created so Peres could conduct his own brand of secret Middle East diplomacy.
In June 1999 Business Week reported:
A venture capital fund founded by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has taken a $9 million, 3.3% stake in Paltel, the Palestinian Telecommunications Co., according to officials of the Peace Technology Fund.
The investment is the first by the peace fund, which was established last year by Israeli and Palestinian investors. The fund has raised $60 million from Israeli, Palestinian, and foreign investors.
The Peace Technology Fund was established by Peres and the World Bank as part of an attempt to spur investment in the Palestinian economy.
The article and the prospectus of the PTF states clearly that Peres was the man who initiated the fund.
Was he paid a fee for this? Was the Peres Center which paid Shimon Peres' expenses while he was working on this deal to create this unique "regional private equity fund" paid a fee by the PTF after the money was raised? When the fund was registered- Peres was not a member of the Israeli government but a member of the Israeli parliament. Five weeks after he is appointed Minister of Regional Cooperation in Ehud Barak's government in June 1999- he announced to the press- on behalf of the PTF- the investment in Paltel.
The Knesset Ethics Committee needs to determine if at that moment in time, June 1999, was Mr. Peres and/or the Peres Center (managed by Uri Savir) a paid consultant to the PTF and did either Peres or the Peace Center or Uri Savir personally receive a fee for ensuring that the investment in Paltel by the PTF was made?
In the private equity world-brokers who raise capital for new private equity funds- are paid a fee- usually 2% of the amount they raise. Was Peres and/or the Peres Center paid a fee for getting the PTF off the ground and attaining the initial $62 million to create this new private equity fund?
Does Mr. Peres or the Peres Peace Center today hold any shares or equity in the PTF (the Peres Peace Center has one of the nine advisory positions on the Advisory Board of the PTF)? There is no reference anywhere in the financial records of the Peace Center of a payment made to the Peace Center for their advisory services that they provided to the PTF.
Was Mr. Peres and/or Mr. Savir (on behalf of the Peace Center) paid a consultancy fee by the PTF for these services?
The PTF is not a typical private equity fund
The PTF was established as a private equity fund- a well-known type of investment vehicle.
Private equity funds are Limited Partnerships set up by a small group of private investors (which can be university endowments, pension funds- or high net worth individuals like doctors and dentists) who invest a sum of money into a management company- that manages the fund- finds the investments- executes them and the cashes out of the investments- and distributes the profits to the initial investors. There is never any public or government involvement in these type of funds (hence the name, "private" equity fund" nor are private equity funds ever created in order to serve any goal other than to maximize profits for the Limited Partners.
Unlike most private equity funds- which invest in private corporations in the developed world- the PTF stated that it was created to serve other goals than just maximizing profits for their Limited Partners- which is the case with most private equity funds.
The prospectus of the PTF states that:
The new fund is a cooperative venture involving Palestinian, Israeli, and international investors. The Fund seeks to obtain above average returns for its investors through participation in regional development opportunities, international joint ventures, and other investment activities that promote growth of the Palestinian economy.
Commenting on the creation of the new private equity fund, World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn, said :
We are very proud to be associated with this Fund, which is the first of its kind to promote investment opportunities involving the Palestinian and Israeli business communities. The PTF will create business opportunities; reduce unemployment through job-creating investments, open new markets and increase foreign exchange earnings."
The Business Week article states clearly that: The Peace Technology Fund was established by Peres and The World Bank.
Did Peres convince the IFC to invest in the fund as the PTF is reported in the media as being the brainchild of him- and nobody else?
If so- Peres- as a broker- could have expected to be paid a 2% commission on that $12.5M investment that the IFC made into the new private equity fund.
Was a $200,000 commission paid by the new fund managers of the management company (which is comprised of the Peace Technology Management Ltd., which is 40% owned by International Capital Advisors, Inc., a Virginia corporation ("Capital") with Palestinian principals, 40% by Evergreen Canada Israel Management Ltd., a Canadian company) to Mr. Peres for his help in bringing in the IFC as a Limited Partner (i.e., investor) into the PTF?
Why did a subsidiary of the World Bank that typically need to enter into deals because no enough private investors can be found because the project is in a risky, non-first world country- invest in a for-profit private equity fund alongside other private investors? Does the IFC's charter allow it to invest $10M of US taxpayers money to invest in these type of private equity funds that are initiated by members of a foreign government?
According to the prospectus of the new Fund, this investment vehicle is a private venture fund- created to earn a profit for its investors after the Fund is liquidated after ten years. This is fairly typical for a private equity fund.
However what needs to be asked is why the IFC (a subsidiary of the World Bank) needed to allocate $12.5 million to this new Fund as one of its lead investors, and why is this international body allowing its name to be associated with any investment vehicle registered in a tax- free haven such as the Cayman Islands? Anyone familiar with how the IFC operates would find such an investment very unusual. The IFC has never invested in any new private equity fund. In no other situation does the IFC maintain an ownership position in a private equity fund or own any part of a private equity fund management company.
Why did the management of IFC decide to when Shimon Peres came to request an investment for the new regional investment fund he had initiated? What did Shimon Peres receive as compensation for convincing the IFC to invest $12.5 million into Peres' new private equity fund?
The General Partners of the Peace Technology Fund.
The managers who raise the initial capital for a private equity fund- and who then manage the fund's capital on behalf of the Limited Partners- are called "General Partners". They actually make the investments- cash out of them eventually- and then split the profits they made with the investors, the Limited Partners.
The Peace Technology Fund had three General Partners: International Capital Advisors, Inc., a Virginia corporation ("Capital") controlled by Hani Masri, Evergreen Canada Israel Management Ltd., a Canadian investment company which operates a string of venture capital funds in Israel- and the IFC. Together- they make up the Peace Technology Management company. The General Partners of a private equity fund also receive a generous management fee for finding and executing the investments- in addition to any profits that are garnered by the Fund during the course of the investment period.
Not only is the IFC a Limited Partner, i.e., lead investor, in this fund- it also owns 20% of the management company- which means it is also a General Partner- and eligible to a third of the management fee each year. According to the report on the PTF issued by the Democracy Council in 2003, the Management Company was the only creditor of the PTF. As of December 2002, the reported accrued amount payable to Peace Technology Management was $4.15 million.
As Shimon Peres organized this private equity vehicle and solicited the investors to invest in the fund- it can be assumed that he also brought together the three General Partners to manage the fund, Evergreen Canada-Israel Management, International Capital Advisors and the IFC.
Did Mr. Peres receive a portion of the $4.15 million that was owed to the Peace Technology Management company by the PTF at the end of 2002?
Hani Masri is an extremely well connected Palestinian financer. In various media reports in Israel in late 2002, his name was linked to the death of Democratic Congressmen Wayne Owen from Utah who was found dead under mysterious circumstances on December 18th, 2002.
Media accounts at the time implied that Owen's death may have been related to his knowledge of the deals Masri had made with various departments of the US government regarding investment schemes between Israel and the Palestinians and the embezzlement that took place. . One investigative reporter wrote:
With the help of Clinton and Owens, Masri swindled the American people of $60 million, supposedly aimed at increasing economic activities in the PA, but which has subsequently disappeared.
Wayne Owens was also a founder of Washington's Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation in which Peres is on the board of the directors. Owens is on the board of the Peres Center.
According to a report issued on the PTF in 2003 by the Democracy Council,
No shareholder agreement could be identified or was provided. PCSC/PIF is a holder of non-voting shares in the Fund and was issued a share certificate.
Every private equity fund has a shareholder agreement which is called "the partners agreement" a document which states that the Limited Partners in the private equity fund are equal partners in the fund- how much of a management fee they will pay to the General Partners of the Fund- and how the profits of the Fund will be allocated.
According to the report issued by the Democracy Council, no such shareholder agreement existed for the PTF. .
One might ask at this point whether the PTF was actually registered as a fund- and if so- how this could have been done without a shareholders agreement.
The Palestinian Commercial Services Corporation ("PCSC") (whose assets were then acquired by the Palestine Investment Fund in late 2002) is the economic arm of the Palestinian Authority. It is run by Mohammed Rashid, PA Chairman Arafat's former economic advisor, and it controls most economic activities in the PA territories. The Palestine Commercial Services Company had the single biggest holding in the Jericho casino until it was shut down, with a $60 million stake. It has a 30% stake in the Palestinian Cellular Communications Company and an 8% stake in the Palestinian Telecommunications Company. It also has investments in the Palestine Development and Investment Company (PADICO).
The company was also, until recently, the direct recipient of sales taxes - more than $500 million in the past two years alone, collected by Israel but owed to the PA under the 1993 Oslo peace accords. The tax receipts were placed in a Tel Aviv account controlled by Arafat and Rashid. The latest estimate of the value of the Palestine Commercial Services Company's holdings is at least $345 million in cash and equity.
According to the report issued by the Democracy Council- the PCSC's share in the fund was $22 million- making it the largest investor in the fund. The next largest investor was the IFC with a $12,600,000 investment. Archer Daniels Midland is the third largest investor with $5,000,000.
Therefore the Palestinian Authority itself is a Limited Partner in the PTF. Since Shimon Peres was the Minister of Regional Cooperation when this investment was made, the Knesset Ethics Committee needs to investigate whether Mr. Peres was paid a consulting or broker fee (typically, 2%) as payment for bringing in PCSC's investment in PTF. This $22 million investment would have earned Mr. Peres a brokerage fee of $440,000.
Other investors in the PTF, such as Iscar Blades, Bank Leumi, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Federmann Enterprises, Koor Industries, Arison Investments, Strauss Holding, Delta Galil, Daimler Chrysler, and Keter Plastics- are all major contributors to the Peres Center. Their investment in the PTF is nearly $10 million.
Due to Mr Peres's close personal ties to these entities- and due to the fact that the Peres Center is an advisor to the PTF- the Knesset Ethics Committee needs to clarify if payments were paid to Mr. Peres personally, the Peres Center- or Uri Savir as the director of the Peres Center- for the investments that these entities made in the PTF.
Why did the PCSC invest in the PTF?
One question rises why would the Palestine Investment Fund/PCSC- which is owned and controlled by the Palestinian Authority-, commit $22 million of Palestinian public funds into a private equity fund rather than simply use this money to stimulate economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza? As two out of the first three investments the PTF made where in publicly-held Palestinian companies- why was a management fee paid to the Peace Technology Management Company and an investment made in the PTF- rather than the investment handled by the PCSC?
On January 1, 2003, Standard & Poor's completed its valuation of Participating Shares amounting to a 35.21% interest in Peace Technology Fund by the Palestinian Commercial Services Corporation ("PCSC") and transferred to the Fund on January 1, 2003 (the "Valuation Date").
Standard & Poor's was asked to give an independent, objective, third party evaluation to the 35.21% ownership of the shares the PCSC had in the Peace Technology Fund.
On January 1st, 2003, Standard & Poor's claimed in its valuation:
"The Fair Market Value of Participating Shares amounting to a 35.21% interest in the Peace Technology Fund, as of January 1, 2003 was USD 2.6 million.
That would mean the entire Peace Technology Fund- which was stated in the June 1999 Business Week story to be worth $22 million- was now only worth about $8 million despite the PTF having invested about $21 million. (Only one third of the capital was used as the PTF ceased investing as of October 2000).
Somewhere between June 1999 and October 2000 when the PTF ceased to invest, the value of PCSC's shares in the fund dropped from $8 million to just $2.6 million- despite a huge profit of nearly 100% earned on the rise in Pal tel's shares from June 1999 to August 1999.
Nearly $5.5 million of Palestinian public funds were lost between June 1999 and October 2000.
Where did this money go?
Did Mr. Peres and Mr. Uri Savir (the representative of the Peace Center on the advisory board of the PTF) receive payment for the services they provided to the PTF- which was paid out via this $5.5 million that was lost to the Palestinian public?
Is this the Peace Technology Fund and the investment fund announced in November 1997 the same fund?
While the PTF is ostensibly a private equity fund financed by a group of Israeli, Palestinian and US investors, that may not be the case.
This transcript from the website of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv,
describes an event that took place on November 17th, 1997- nearly two years before the launch of the PTF was announced in Business Week.
From this transcript it appears that the US government- not only Shimon Peres- was the chief architect of the PTF- nearly two years before Peres takes credit with establishing the new private equity fund.
The transcript reads:
Secretary of Commerce William Daley said November 17 that the signing of a protocol for a new $60 million equity fund that will invest in the Gaza, West Bank and Jordan, backed by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), "demonstrates the commitment of the United States to furthering the cause of peace in the region (and) will also directly lead to expanded commercial cooperation between American firms throughout the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan."
What US government-sanctioned protocol was needed to create this ostensibly private equity fund? Why was the Secretary of Commerce required to bring this new private equity fund into existence?
What role did OPIC (which offers government-backed insurance for US companies exporting to the developing world) have in promoting this new fund?
Private equity funds are limited partnerships- they need no backing from any government agency such as OPIC. Did Daley really believe that the US economy will be stimulated by the flood of Palestinian exports that will result from the investments this fund will make?
The transcript states:
JULIE MARTIN: Good afternoon and thank you for coming. My name is Julie Martin and I'm a vice president of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The signing of this protocol marks an important milestone in OPIC support of this new fund for the Middle East.
In no other press release is OPIC even mentioned- so either this is a completely different vehicle- or is an early version of it which was later changed so that the IFC's investment of $10 million would be how the US government would participate in the initiative- rather than OPIC. It may be two different initiatives (i.e., schemes) or they may be part and parcel of the same.
Undersecretary Eizenstat of the State Department, who is a member of OPIC's board and has been working on this project for more than a year, has participation along with that of Secretary of Commerce Daley in this event, which signals an Administration-wide commitment to furthering the cause of Middle East peace by promoting and supporting American private investment in the region.
Eizenstat was first known during Carter years. He is the token Jew for Jewish and Israeli affairs in the Democratic Party. The fund was created when Clinton was in office. Not only is Eizenstat working for the US government- as well as helping to put a new private equity fund together- but that he has been involved in this project for more than a year.
Is he too- like Peres- getting a fee for brokering the deal between private investors and the US government which he represents?
In other press releases- we are led to believe that the existence of the fund just "came out of Peres' office". If indeed Eizenstat was working on the same fund as Peres was- at the very least- the initiative came from the highest levels of the White House. Why is a State Department official leading the way to create a private equity fund that will invest in business entities in the Middle East?
The signing ceremony continues:
UNDERSECRETARY EIZENSTAT: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. This is an important and exciting day for the United States, Jordan and for the Palestinians. It shows our strong commitment to peace and economic progress. I'm very pleased today to act in my capacity as a member of the governing board of the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation by signing this protocol for a new fund that will channel $60 million of new investment into the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.
If this is the same fund as the PTF- then the $62 million used to create the PTF- came from OPIC. So if OPIC is "channeling $60 million of new investment into the West Bank and Gaza and Jordan (this is the only time that Jordan is even mentioned as a destination for investment) what funds were required to be invested by International Capital Advisors, and, Evergreen Canada Israel Management Ltd. and the other group of private investors in the PTF?
Ms. Martin went on to say:
Last but assuredly not least, I especially want to commend Mr.
Hani Masri, the chairman of Capital Management Investment
Corporation. Mr. Masri is the kind of fund manager who will get
results for this fund because of his own expertise and because
he cares for the people of the region. As a Palestinian
American, he has a particular interest in seeing that the
Palestinian people experience what they have not experienced so
far: The fruits of peace, so long overdue.
This is a perfect example of what has been a centerpiece of this Administration's international economic policy, mainly private-public partnerships. OPIC has provided a two-for-one match for the generous investment which Mr. Masri has made.
Why is a representative of the US government thanking Mr. Masri's for his "generous investment" when a branch of the US government is investing $60 million in US public funds into a fund to be managed by Mr. Masri's investment management firm? Is Masri involved in two different funds here- or the same fund? Who is giving "two" for whose "one" in this scenario?
What was Evergreen's role in the Peace Technology Fund?
In the local Israeli press, Tel Aviv-based Tirza Florentin, 40, who was general manager of the fund, claimed: The money for the new fund was raised from international investors, Israelis and Palestinians, to invest in the Palestinian territories.
She claimed that:
The Peace Technology Fund invested in the Palestine Development & Investment Ltd., known as Padico, which invests in Palestinian real estate and companies. Existing investors in Padico included the Palestinian Authority; Bank Leumi Le-Israel Ltd., the country's biggest state-owned bank; and International Finance Corp.
Palestine Development and Investment Ltd. (PADICO) was
established as a private company in order to enable Palestinians
from abroad to invest in the emerging Palestinian economy. It has since
gone public on the Palestinian Stock Exchange. In 2003 it reported that
it had $8.9 million in net profits on $26 million in revenues, an incredibly
high rate of net return on capital- approximately 30%. Despite the general
worsening situation of the Palestinian economy in 2002 and 2003, PADICO is
performing very well for its investors.
Why would the Peace Technology Fund, which according to the
prospectus and Shimon Peres was created to "help strengthen the
emerging Palestinian economy", invest in a well established
publicly-traded holding company like Padico? It neither needed
the PTF's money- nor did their investment strategy help create
any new enterprises or jobs in the West Bank and Gaza.
Why does the Peres Center have an advisory role in the private held Peace Technology Fund?
According to the prospectus of the Peace Technology Fund:
The role of the Advisory Board is to provide guidance to the Fund.
The Advisory Board is composed of nine members, representing:
International Capital Advisors (1)
Evergreen Canada Investment Management (1)
The Fund's investors (5)
The Peres Center for Peace (1)
While the Peres Center for Peace, as an Israeli non-profit organization, does not invest in the Fund or participate in its management, it plays an active role in advising and assisting the Manager. Does it receive a fee for this advisory work? Does Shimon Peres receive a fee for the advisory work he performs on behalf of the PTF or for his consulting and advisory work he performs on behalf of Evergreen Canada Investments?
What exactly does the Peres Center for Peace know about investing in new Palestinian start up companies that an experienced venture management company such as Evergreen would need their assistance to make investments? Or for that matter- why is Evergreen even involved in this private equity fund when the stated aim of the fund is to invest in new Palestinian ventures- which the Evergreen fund management company has never done- nor is it likely that any member of Evergreen's staff even speaks Arabic?.
Investments by the Peace Technology Fund
According the prospectus of the PTF:
The Fund invests in equity and equity-related securities of companies located in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, providing investors with an exclusive investment vehicle that will enable them to participate in the future growth of the Palestinian economy at the earliest stage possible. The Fund seeks to provide seed and growth capital to companies that are considered likely to achieve significant growth, potentially attractive to strategic buyers, or deemed capable of being listed on local or foreign stock exchanges within several years.
The Fund had lots of lofty goals- in addition to making terrific
returns for its private equity investors. It's investment target
and strategy (every venture capital fund has an "investment" and
"strategy") consisted of:
**High tech industries.
**Tourism and Lodging industries.
**General Manufacturing industries.
In actual fact, after this first investment in Paltel in June 1999, just 15 months later- the Peace Technology Fund simply stopped operating because of the outbreak of violence in September 2000.
The PTF invested $396,000 in Arab Palestinian Shopping Center, a
company whose major shareholder was PADICO.
The PTF also invested $750,000 in the Palestinian Mortgage Housing Company, obtaining 1 million shares in equity. The IFC owns 15% of the stock of the Palestinian Mortgage Housing Company- as well as the lead investor and General Partner in the PTF. The Palestine Mortgage Financing Company also enjoys soft loans from the International Finance Corp.
Another 15% is held by Padico. On Padico's website it states that as of January 1st, 2003- Padico owns 15% of the shares of the Palestine Mortgage Financing Co. with a company valuation of $140 million.
The PTF also invested $8.5 million in Padico itself.
As Shimon Peres was the Minister in charge of regional cooperation in Ehud Barak's government during this time- the Knesset Ethics Committee needs to investigate whether Mr. Peres received a fee from the PTF to facilitate these investments or had any role in facilitating these investments on behalf of the PTF.
Questions regarding the $10 million investment by PTF in Paltel
According to Abdullah Shahin, a telecommunications analyst for the Atlas Investment Corporation- the price of Paltel's shares rose from 2.5 JD (Jordanian diners) in May 1999- to 4.5 JD in August 1999. This means that if the PTF invested $9M in Paltel's shares in June 1999- within two months a $10 million profit was earned. In this two month period average daily trading in the stock went from just under 4 million shares to more than 10 million.
The reason is that in August 1999 an exclusive/monopoly license was granted by the Palestinian Authority for Paltel to operate a GSM network and GSM service in the West Bank and Gaza.
Did the General Managers of the PTF know of this announcement in advance due to the contacts that Shimon Peres had with high level government ministers in the Palestinian Authority? If so, this would be considered a manipulation of the stock of a public company.
The Knesset Ethics Committee needs to investigate whether Shimon Peres personally profited from the increase in Paltel's shares- and whether the Peres Center played an advisory role in this transaction to purchase nearly $10 million worth of Paltel's stock a month before it rises nearly 100% in value. Considering the unusually close relationship Padico's managers, directors and owners had with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Telecommunications Authority- it is possible that the Peace Technology Fund purchased Padico's shares in Paltel with the knowledge that Paltel's shares would rise substantially once the announcement was made on August 1, 1999 to award the GSM license to Paltel.
Evergreen's relationship to Shimon Peres and the PCSC
The Knesset Ethics Committee needs to the relationship between the Evergreen Investment Company- and Member of Knesset, Shimon Peres.
The Peace Technology Fund wasn't Evergreen's only advisory role for investment in Palestinian entities.
In November 1999, five months after the Peace Technology Fund's first investment in Pal Tel, Evergreen formed Evergreen Partners U.S. Direct Fund III LP, incorporated in the Cayman Islands, to which Palestine Commercial Services, committed $8 million for investments in Israel, the U.S. and the U.K. That partnership is one of three that together form the Evergreen Partners Direct Fund III, which had total committed
capital of $170.5 million at the end of 2002, according to S&P's valuation of the PCSC investment.
An interesting fact about Evergreen Canada Israel Management as the choice of the Israeli partner. It may be just coincidence- but Yaacov Burak- the founder of Evergreen (which is one of Israel's leading venture capital fund management companies- got his initial capital back in the early 1980s when the Bronfman family in Canada started to invest in Israel. In the early 90s the Bronfman's were one of Peres's most enthusiastic backing of the Oslo Accords- and to add whatever they could to influence public opinion- the Bronfman's created The New Israel Fund which supported many of Shimon Peres' "peace initiatives" after the Oslo agreements were signed.
Burak himself is not known at being very much involved in politics of any type- as most venture capitalists are really only interested in making huge chucks of money- and not notoriety by hanging out with national leaders. However it could be that Burak is nothing more than a façade for the real player here- which is Chemi Peres- who runs the other most successful venture capital management companies in Israel, Pitango. You guessed it. He's Shimon Peres' son.
The Palestine Investment Fund holds PCSC's share of the Evergreen fund. This is a reference to the $170 million that Evergreen's manage helped the Palestinian Authority invest outside of the region.
What was the role of Shimon Peres in helping Evergreen receive the advisory contract from the PCSC to invest more than $170 million of the Palestinian people's tax revenues into international private equity funds in the US, Europe and Asia? Was Mr. Peres paid a consultancy fee by Evergreen for his work in convincing the directors of the PCSC that they should give this investment advisory work to Evergreen? As Evergreen has no expertise or experience whatsoever on investment capital into private equity funds (firms that provide this service are called "gatekeepers") the question remains why the PCSC would chose Evergreen to advice them on which private equity funds to invest in outside of the region- and not chose one of the more established and successful "gatekeepers" from the US or Europe- to perform this function?
Was a payment made to Mr. Peres or the Peres Center by the management company of Evergreen to help secure this advisory work from the PCSC?
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