This report was first published in EIR's March 1986 Special Report, Moscow's Secret Weapon: Ariel Sharon and the Israeli Mafia, and was re-released in May 2002 as part of a special dossier, Ariel Sharon: Profile of an Unrepentant War Criminal.
Ariel Sharon and the
West Bank `Landscam'
Following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which temporarily succeeded in crippling U.S. influence in the region, a meeting was held in Dir-elKimar, the Chouf Mountain headquarters of Falangist leader Camille Chamoun. Attending the meeting, which occurred on Oct. 15, 1982 were, Sharon, Chamoun, Israeli Counsel General in New York Naftali Levi; Uri Dan, biographer of Meyer Lansky and official spokesman for Sharon; Rupert Murdoch, the pro-Sharon owner of the New York Post and Village Voice; Bruce Rothwell, foreign editor of the Post; Charles Douglas-Home, editor of the London Times; and A. Bustani, Lebanon's ambassador to the Peoples' Republic of China. The meeting, which discussed progress in driving the United States out of the region, and an Israeli annexation of southern Lebanon, was followed by a helicopter tour of the West Bank and a party at Sharon's ranch.
A third meeting scheduled for Nov.15, 1982 was to include Sharon, Kissinger, Lord Harlech (David Ormsby-Gore), Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis, former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Lord Carrington, British Member of Parliament Julian Amery, Ernst Kux of Neue Zeurcher Zeitung, Robert Moss, Sir Edmund Peck, Armin Gutowski of the Hamburg West Germany World Economic Archives, and former British intelligence Mideast station chief Nicholas Elliot, then a senior MI-6 official.
The Nov.15 meeting discussed the implementation of the New Venice project, through specific investments to be made in Israel, which was to significantly include massive investments in the West Bank. An EIR exposé of the meetings in early 1983, and opposition to the Begin government's West Bank and related policies by President Reagan, forced a delay in implementation of the policies.
On Jan. 28, 1985 after the collapse of the Likud government and its replacement with Shimon Peres's National Unity coalition, the new Prime Minister announced that Armand Hammer was acting as go-between for Moscow and Jerusalem. Hammer's role was complemented by that of his Trust associate, Edgar Bronfman.
At approximately the same time, the man appointed Minister of Industry and Commerce under the new regime, Ariel Sharon, announced "Project Independence." It was the old Lansky Plan under a new name, and was even launched with a repeat of the 1968 "millionaires' conference." Among those in attendance were Max Fisher of Detroit, Edgar Bronfman of Canada, and Anti-Defamation League head Kenneth Bialkin. Armand Hammer, said to have originated the idea, was also present at the founding "millionaires' conference."
The case of Max Fisher
Max Fisher exemplifies the financial power being brought to bear on behalf of the New Venice. Following his stint with Paz Oil Company, a joint venture with Tibor Rosenbaum's SITB, and his half ownership of the Israeli Zim Shipping Co., which was exposed in 1978 for its role in drug trafficking, Fisher began to go legitimate.
In 1969, the Purple Gang's Mr. Fisher began building his reputation as the largest Jewish philanthropist in the United States, becoming chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, the United Israel Appeal, the American Jewish Committee, and the Jewish Agency. These agencies, operating through the Jewish Agency, process $500 million a year, none of which can be audited in the United States due to the Agency's standing as an Israeli organization.
Through his role in the philanthropic apparatus, and a small group of specific corporate enterprises, Fisher and his associates ate the center of a hermetically sealed group of corporations and associations with unique large-scale money laundering capabilities. Among the corporations and individuals in Fisher's group are:
United Brands. Formerly the United Fruit Co., and according to U.S. drug enforcement officials, responsible as of 1978 for 20% of the cocaine shipped into the United States from Latin America. United Brands has the largest private shipping fleet in the world.
Sports Services. Owned by Max and Jeremy Jacobs, this company runs a network of sports teams, airport and sports arena concessions, and racetracks across the United States. Sports Services has been the subject of numerous federal investigations in connection with money laundering.
National Bulk Carriers. Owned by Lansky associate Daniel K. Ludwig, NBC is involved in "shipping and construction" in Latin America.
American Financial Corporation. Owned by Fisher associate at United Brands, Carl Lindner, AFC is a major shareholder in numerous mafialinked companies, and Meshulam Riklis' Rapid America Corp. It is a major shareholder in Charter Oil, in whose activities Fisher, Henry Kissinger, and Armand Hammer have all been involved.
Playing the role of "fixer" for Project Independence is Kenneth Bialkin, head of the Anti-Defamation League. As is indicated by his Willkie, Farr, and Gallagher's involvement with Vesco's 105, Bialkin is today one of the top legal representatives of the Trust and organized crime in the world. His clients have included Teddy Kollek, Shaul Eisenberg, Robert Vesco, Edmund Safra, and the Sterling National Bank.
Bialkin is currently playing a leading role in channeling investments into real estate on the West Bank. In late 1985, Bialkin made an un- authorized visit to a West Bank settlement, praising and encouraging the settlers.
During the "millionaires' conference" to launch Project Independence, there was no discussion of investments into Israeli industry and agriculture. Instead, discussion centered on the creation of "free ports" and "free cities" devoid of all customs checks so as to facilitate smuggling, the building of casino resort centers throughout the country, including on the West Bank, and changes in banking laws to facilitate Israel's role as a top international money-laundering center.
The conference has already had preliminary results. Over the last year, the Israeli Knesset has passed legislation making a "free city" of the port of Eilot. Eilot will be the first city in Israel to experiment with casino gambling, an experiment that is to be imitated rapidly.
Real estate speculation is already soaring as a result, with hotels being built everywhere. One of the leading investors in this is the casino magnate of Great Britain, Cyril Stein, a close friend of Sharon. Stein has built the first resort hotel in Eilot, and is on the board of the United Mizrahi Bank, a major funder of the Gush Emunim settlements on the West Bank.
As a free port without customs checks, Eilot is already becoming a major gun- and drug-running center in the Mediterranean.
During the course of 1985, the Israeli Knesset also substantially changed the banking laws of Israel. In order to promote Project Independencetype investments, the Knesset changed Israeli banking law to allow anyone to deposit their money in an Israeli bank, regardless of the origin of the money, as long as that money is invested within Israel. Any drugrunner in the world is now free to set up shop in Israel, using his money to build a casino, or speculate in West Bank land and Soviet Jewry.
The response from leading representatives of the Likud bloc, to the breaking of the West Bank land scandals in August 1985, came fast and furious. Michael Dekel, under investigation for fraud, and currently deputy mininster for defense, immediately denounced the charges as "purely politically motivated." Deputy Foreign Mininster Roni Milo, Menachem Begin's son-in-law, also characterized the investigations as political in nature.
No less a figure than Likud Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the current head of the Herut Party, attacked the charges as a "witchhunt," but then, revealingly defended those who used "various and strange ways to acquire land for the Jewish state." "It is not simple, buying land from Arabs," Shamir stated on Israeli radio. "At times, this must be accomplished via strategems."
While the majority of the leadership of the Irgun faction in Israel, represented by the Herut Party and the Likud bloc, are complicit, that Ariel Sharon was at the center of the land scam scandal is indisputable. Michael Dekel, Avi Tzur, and Claude Malka were all brought into the agriculture ministry in 1981, when Sharon was minister of agriculture. Moreover, during the time period under investigation, 1981-84, it was Sharon, first as agriculture minister, then, beginning 1982, as defense minister, who had responsibility for West Bank settlements policy. Finally, it is well known that accused land dealer Shmuel Einov has been one of Sharon's major political backers for over 10 years. He even served on the central committee of Sharon's short-lived Shlomtzion Party.
Landscam actually began, however, immediately after the 1967 war, when Israel acquired what are today called the occupied territories. At that time, Sharon, with others including Ezer Weizman, deployed settlers into the West Bank, on the pretext of setting up a defense perimeter. The base of settlers came from the extremist sects centered around what is today Gush Emunim. Accompanying propaganda claimed that these lands were an integral part of Eretz Israel and that their occupation was part of a holy mission.
Simultaneous with the advent of the first settlements, a covert drive began to buy Arab land on the West Bank, land whose private sale was illegal under the Israeli occupation. If Isrealis succeeded in buying up the land, its assimilation into Israel was a fait accompli. The principal land-purchasing agency of that 1968-72 period was the Jewish National Fund.
The JNF, as is the case with most such agencies, is dominated by those international drug running interests central to Israel's future as a new Venice."
In 1972, however, Yehezkel Sahar, first minister of the Israeli national police and long accused of links to the Israeli mafia, succeeded in getting the ban on the private sale of West Bank land lifted. The door was opened for expanded settlements and real estate speculation on the West Bank. Sahar first gained the right to purchase land in the Nebi Samwill, an area close to Jerusalem, which he proposed to turn into a residential area for Israeli military officers. His partners in the venture were Gen. Reshavam Ze'evi (a.k.a. Ghandi), Betsalel Mizrahi, and Haim Kahati, all former employees of the JNF.
Ze'evi and Mizrahi are both known leaders of what has been called the Israeli Mafia, the second generation of the Lansky/Irgun intelligence apparatus. Ze'evi, a former adviser on counterterror to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, left the military in 1977 to act as a consultant to the government of Ecuador on counterterror policy. While in Ecuador with Mizrahi, who had served under him in the military, the Israeli press accused him of being a leading Mafia godfather.
Between 1977 and 1980, Ze'evi was extremely active in Central and South America arranging arms deals. He was involved in the August 1980 overthrow of the Bolivian government, which inaugurated the infamous regime of the "cocaine colonels."
In the summer of 1980, Ze'evi was officially rehired by Menachem Begin's Likud government as a consultant to the justice ministry. While in that post, he proposed "reforms" which have been denounced for hamstringing the powers of the Israeli police in their fight against organized crime.
Mizrahi has a long history in criminal activities. Following his service under Ze'evi, Mizrahi worked for Mordechai Tsaffati, a.k.a. Mentesh. Mentesh, known as the first Israeli godfather, was originally part of the post-World War II smuggling apparatus used by the Haganah and Irgun. Operating out of Jaffa, the criminal networks set up by Mentesh on the docks aided in smuggling military equipment from Czechoslovakia and the United States. When Lansky attempted to emigrate to Israel, Mentesh was one of his main political backers.
Mizrahi is said to be Mentesh's successor. In 1955, Mizrahi formed the Elisahv construction firm which served as a front for criminal operations. Repeated police investigations into Mizrahi's doings were all quashed by Pinchas Sapir, former finance minister.
Between 1972 and 1976, there was a significant incease in West Bank land purchases. Aside from Minister of Police Sahar's group, the main dealers at that time included Sharon's protege, Rafi Eytan. Operating in partnership with Eytan was Avraham Mintz, a leader of Gush Emunim, whom Sharon helped to found the controversial Eilot Morah settlement, and Eli Landau, one of Sharon's main political advisers.
During this same period, Sharon, on the advice of U. S. -based mobster Meshulam Riklis, who had become his financial angel, left the Israeli Defense Force and became active in politics. In December 1973, he was elected to the Knesset as a member of the Likud bloc and served on the Knesset's foreign affairs and defense committees. In June 1974, he led a group of Jewish settlers in setting up an unauthorized settlement near N ablus.
Following the election of Menachem Begin's Likud bloc in 1977, the takeover of the West Bank began in earnest-along with the first big moves to turn Israel into a major guns, drugs, and money-laundering center. With Begin's government, the takeover of the West Bank became state policy, although an unannounced state policy, which became known as the Sharon Plan.
Actually, the plan was drafted by former Irgun member and Herut leader, Matitayahu Drobles, then the head of the settlement division of the World Zionist Organization. It was a carefully-structured, three-part plan to settle the West Bank with 1.3 million Jews by the year 2010.
It was fully recognized by Drobles, Sharon, and their allies, that to settle such a large number of Jews would require a fundamental restructuring of Israeli society. This would be based on a large-scale influx of largely uneducated Sephardic Jews, to supplant, in numbers and influence, the better educated Ashkenazi Jews. The Sephardim, led by the religious fanatics of the Gush Emunim, would make up the population of the West Bank.
It was also recognized that the projected influx of Sephardim would not suffice. Planners began seeking the cooperation of the one country that could provide a very large number of warm bodies for the project: the Soviet Union.
The first part of the plan was put into implementation in September 1977, when Sharon was appointed minister of agriculture. By 1981, 25,000-30,000 Jews had been settled in the West Bank. Most of these came from Gush Emunim and their allies.
Phase two of the Drobles/Sharon plan (1981-86), still under way, has aimed at placing 100,000 Jews in the West Bank. The target population for this phase is young families and married couples, who, although not politically or religiously motivated as in phase one, have needed the housing that has been made available there.
The final phase of the plan calls for reaching the 1.3 million level. Drobles and his aid, Zev Ben-Yosef, insist that these will come from a projected Israeli population in the year 2010 of 6.5 million. However, even optimistic government reports, based on the current rate of growth, place the 2010 figure at no more than 4.3 million. This raises the obvious question: Where will the rest come from. And, it raises the obvious answer: the Soviet Union. been authorized by a cabinet committee meeting. However, Dayan, another member of the committee, denied that any such meeting took place. Confronted with this, Sharon produced the protocols of the meeting. But Dayan still insisted that no such meeting occurred.
Dayan was telling the truth, no meeting took place. Sharon had merely polled enough members of the committee to assure a majority and then forged the protocols.
In 1978, the first public Iandscam scandal broke in the Israeli press. Two Israeli land dealers, Edmunds Levy and Ze'ev Golan, were accused of forging a document allowing them to sell the land of a Palestinian family. The Arab middleman in the deal, Al Said, was also accused. Despite a public outcry, only Al Said and 12 other Arabs were indicted. The Israelis involved were let off the hook. The Israeli press revealed that "an important Israeli figure was interrogated by the police," but no Israeli was ever prosecuted.
However, shortly thereafter, the military governor of Nablus, Yossef Luntz, and the civilian coordinator of the ere removed from their posts. At the time, Luntz was in close touch with Eli Landau, Sharon's closest aide.
It was as a result of these shenanigans, plus Sharon's continued use of the settlements issue to sabotage peace negotiations, that Begin took responsibility for settlements policy away from the cabinet settlements committee headed by Sharon, and placed it in the defense committee.
Sharon still played a leading role in settlements policy, however, in several ways. As a member of the defense committee, he repeatedly proposed new settlements, and went to great lengths to hide the extent of settlement actually involved.
One example is an Oct.22, 1979 meeting to discuss his proposals, in which he used maps to illustrate his point. After an intervention by Dayan, the participants realized that the maps had been prepared to hide the full extent of the number of settlements Sharon had actually proposed. Sharon had the maps made up so that the new settlements were the same color as the map's background. He also gave new settlements the same names as older ones, etc.
Sharon also directed Gush Emunim in setting up satellite settlements on the edge of older ones, thus enabling him to portray these as merely extensions of existing settlements, not new ones. As minister of agriculture, he set a policy that Gush Emunim should be reimbursed for "out of pocket" expenses incurred in setting up settlements, which, while set up illegally, were later officially sanctioned. Clearly, the agriculture ministry was bankrolling the settlements plan.
During his entire tenure as minister of agriculture, 1977-81, Sharon worked with the Jewish National Fund to "develop" as much land as possible-i.e., render it useless to Arab farmers. The chairman of the Jewish National Fund at the time, Moshe Rivlin, charged that Arabs were stealing land in the occupied territories. Authorities, said Rivlin, should ensure proper development in the area by Jews. "As soon as you sow something, you have created a fact," Rivlin said. "Otherwise, somebody else comes and works the land."
Working with Sharon in this was his long-time associate, Gen. Shmuel Gonen, who was the military administrator of the occupied territories from 1976-81. General Gonen is also a close, long-time associate of leading Israeli Mafia man Sami Flatto-Sharon (not a relative of Ariel Sharon) through partnership in an arms company, Denit.
Flatto-Sharon had moved to Israel in 1972, having fled France where he faced arrest for tax evasion. He immediately began operations with Betsalel Mizrahi, whom he made contact with through David Admon, a public relations consultant tied to Sharon.
During this period, Sharon's protege, Rafi Eytan, served as Menachem Begin's special adviser on the Warfare against Terror, with an extremely broad mandate allowing him to use "unconventional means both abroad and at home." Eytan used this mandate to launch terror operations against Arab populations on the West Bank, aimed at driving them out. His instruments were Gush Emunim, the Jewish Defense League, and the military infrastructure of the West Bank settlements known as the Regional Defense Forces.
In the summer of 1981, just as Sharon was being appointed defense minister, several scandals broke out concerning the West Bank. The first involved the stabbing to death of two Arabs, within one week of each other, both of whom served as middlemen in land deals. The two, Abd El Rahman Awad Mihian and Abed Ratah Yassin, dealt with the Himnutah Company, Ltd., an arm of the Jewish Agency. They in turn were transfering ownership of West Bank land to the Jewish National Fund.
The two Arabs also dealt with private land dealers, including those connected to the Gush Emunim. According to the Paris-based Israel arul Palestine magazine, the two murdered Arabs not only knew a great deal about West Bank land deals, but could tell a great deal about Israeli government operations in the West Bank. The murders were never solved.
In 1979, an Israeli high court ruled that West Bank land could be bought privately by individual Israelis. Up until that time, only the government was legally able to buy land. At this point, Meron Benvenisti, who runs the West Bank Research Center, estimated that 27% of the West Bank's 1.45 million acres was already under Israeli control.
In 1981, the Israeli high court delivered a ruling that would rapidly expand the amount of land in Israeli hands. While formally ruling out Israeli expropriation of land in the West Bank, the court did recognize the legitmacy of the so-called Ottoman statute which gave the Sultan, or the current ruling power, the right to declare all rocky, vacant, and uncultivated acreage state property. De facto, the government could indeed expropriate West Bank land.
The process is simple. The land is seized and declared to be state property. Any Arab who claims ownership has 21 days to file objections before an administrative appeals court, the chairman of which is the legal adviser to the Israeli Land Authority. Such lands are then considered to be under the jurisdiction of Jewish Settlers Regional Councils, another link between the settlers and Israeli state services.
Sharon became secretary of defense in August 1981, which office was responsible for settlement policy. As early as the 1979 ruling permitting private purchase of West Bank land, Sharon had begun mobilizing foreign investors into the project. In 1980, he addressed a meeting of the U.S. based P.E.A.C.E. organization, urging them to channel all their investments into the settlements. Between 1981-82, the activities of P.E.A.C.E. increased markedly.
P.E.A.C.E., which stands for the Prevention of the Emergence of Another Arab Country in Eretz Israel, was created in 1980 by Sharon and Tehiya Party leader Yuval Ne'eman, for the specific purpose of propagandizing for West Bank expansion. Among the founding members of P. E.A.C. E. were such prominant political personalities as Manahatten District Attorney Robert Morganthau, whose office is notable for its refusal to prosecute Jewish Defense League terrorists for any of their actions; and Joseph Churba, a former officer with U.S. Air Force Intelligence who serves as a U.S. government consultant on terrorism. Churba, with Rabbi Meir Kahane, was a founder and guiding light of the Jewish Defense League (J DL).
Other board members included Meir Jolawitz, then national chairman of the JDL, and Harold Jacobs, president of the orthodox Young Israel cult.
By 1982, the board had expanded to include: Arnold Forster, the former civil rights director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. He has been known to hire people to paint swastikas on synogogues in order to build the ADL's coffers: Geula Cohen, a former member of the Stern Gang and leader of the Tehiya Party; Roni Milo, deputy foreign minister; and Israel Shenkar, a close associate of Milo who is an active land buyer in the West Bank through the real estate firm, Samaria and Judea.
Over the period 1980-82, P.E.A.C.E., and associated groups, such as Americans for a Safe Israel (a political front for Kahane'sJDL), and other organizations spanning 12 states in the United States and 9 countries, mobilized investments into West Bank land deals. During this same period, the Jewish National Fund and Jewish Agency, no longer acting as the main buyers of land, began channeling their money into the "development of the settlement areas, as required under the Israeli high court rulings on the Ottoman statutes.
At least seven real estate companies were established to facilitate the acquisition and settlement of land. These included:
Jumbo. A large combine run by David Moore, a member of Begin's (by then, Sharon's) Herut Party. Moore had extensive dealings in the diamond trade, one of the principal money-laundering vehicles for the Israeli mafia's guns-for-drugs deals. Moore is also the treasurer of the Revisionist International, the followers of Vladimir Jabotinksy.
Others involved in Jumbo are Ami Frumchenkco, one of the top shareholders in Israel's leading chocolate company, and Shaul Yechial, a textile industrialist and leading Herut party member. Their lawyer was Roni Milo.
Samaria and Judea. A large combine run by Israel Shenker, a board member of P.E.A.C.E. The leading shareholder is Avner Erlich, a builder and Sharon supporter. Other shareholders are a Mr. Ronen and Rachel Rahat, both members of the Tehiya Party.
Davca. A Jordanian-registered company run by Yitzhak Yanai, a close associate of Yuval Ne'eman.
Meteor Group. Run by Jacob Aknin, the former Sharon-appointed head of the Israel Land Authority. Aknin was a member of Sharon's Shlomtzion Party.
Other companies active included the Delta Group, Gal, a Panamanian-registered company, and a seventh run by former leading members of the old Stern Gang.
Eytan's operations to drive Arabs out of the West Bank by terrorist means was the subject of the late spring 1982 meeting at Sharon's farm. Present at that meeting were Louis M. Bloomfield, Rafi Eytan, Gen. Rehavam Ze'evi, Arieh Genger, Eli Landau, and the Los Angeles-based JDL supporter, Herb Brin.