The Knesset Internal Affairs Committee began an investigation of Jerusalem’s official state religious council and its associated kosher supervision company today after Jerusalem’s Zionist Orthodox Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern went public with evidence of widespread corruption. Police are now deciding whether or not to open a criminal fraud and public corruption investigation.
Knesset Hears About Haredi Corruption In Jerusalem City Kosher Supervision As Police Decide Whether Or Not To Open Criminal Corruption Investigation
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The Knesset Internal Affairs Committee began an investigation of Jerusalem’s official state religious council and its associated kosher supervision company today after Jerusalem’s Zionist Orthodox Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern went public with evidence of widespread corruption.
Stern and his chief of staff Avinoam Kutscher have found evidence of no-show jobs, serious fiscal mismanagement, and other forms of corruption. In the process, Stern’s office was burglarized and confidential files stolen, and Kutscher’s job was threatened by the head of the Jerusalem Religious Council, Yehoshua Yishai.
Yishai and many of the other allegedly corrupt officials appear to be apparatchiks affiliated with the Sefardi haredi Shas Party, which is itself led by a convicted (and largely unrepentant) felon convicted of public corruption, Aryeh Deri. Deri is now Israel’s Economy Minister.
Yishai ordered the secretary of the city religious council’s kashrut department to send a WhatsApp message to kashrut inspectors ordering them not to cooperate in any way with any official from Stern’s office unless the inquiry came directly from the rabbi himself. Kutscher argues this was done to shut down the internal investigation Stern had ordered, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Stern’s investigation also found rampant nepotism in hiring by the council’s kashrut department, including the hiring of three brothers, one brother-in-law and the father-in-law of the kashrut department’s secretary.
Superintendent Isaac Simon, who heads the Jerusalem Police Fraud Office, told the Knesset committee his department was looking at the available evidence to evaluate whether a criminal investigation will be opened.
Elad Malka of the liberal Hitorerut Jerusalem Party is a member of the Jerusalem City Council. He reportedly filed a complaint with the State Comptroller’s Office based on the evidence Stern’s investigation had uncovered. He also reportedly told the Knesset committee that since filing the complaint he has been threatened.
There is “thick and heavy smoke” hovering above the Jerusalem Religious Council, Malka told the committee, “which indicates there is an inferno and not just a fire.”
Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie told the committee the Knesset has the responsibility to protect whistleblowers who expose public corruption.
“Those who expose corruption must not be harmed and I am here to lead a process of reform in Jerusalem and in other religious councils,” Lavie said.
MK Dudu Amsallem of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party was dismissive of the hearing and asked that it be expedited so he could get out of there.
“There are more important hearings to follow,” Amsallem sniffed.
Amsallem did claim to welcome the intervention by the State Comptroller that prevented Yishai, the head of the religious council, from firing Kutscher, Stern’s top aide. He also claimed to support exposing problems with the city’s kosher supervision. But all of that had to take a back seat to more pressing matters.
The coalition government Amsallem’s party heads depends on haredi political parties, especially Shas, to stay in power.
During the hearing, Yishai testified that “many” no-show kosher supervisors had been fired by the council he heads. But the office of Stern, the chief rabbi, said that the only two kosher supervisors have been fired – and one of them was fired directly by Stern, meaning Yishai and the council had only fired one no-show kosher supervisor, a small percentage of the number Stern knows to exist.
Zionist Orthodox Jerusalem Chief Rabbi’s Office Burglarized In Ongoing Fight Over Control Of The City’s Official Kosher Supervision Company.
Corrupt State Religious Officials And Rabbis Threaten To Fire Chief Rabbi's Top Aide After Aide Uncovers Their Alleged Criminal Behavior.
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