Morris Talansky began his pre-trial deposition in court today with a recounting of his personal relationship with Olmert, whom he says he loved.
In order to help Olmert, when he was mayor of Jerusalem, Talansky offered to write him a check. But Olmert said that because of the way checks were routed, it was better to have cash. So Talansky gave him cash.
Now, I’m not a multimillionaire financier and that request for cash smells like three day old fish to me. So what was Talansky thinking? "I didn’t really grasp it. I didn’t really work out how the system works over all," he claimed.
Later in his testimony he admitted that, "I overlooked, frankly and honestly, a lot of things. I overlooked them, maybe I shouldn’t have."
Talansky says, between 2002 and 2005, he gave Olmert $150,000 from his own pocket, as well as assisting with raising funds from others. Some of this was transferred via Olmert’s long-time assistant Shula Zaken, and some was handed to Olmert directly when he was in the U.S. He paid Olmert’s hotel bill and covered other expenses; sometimes Olmert asked for money — $5,000 here, $3,000 there. He admits that there are no records of how this money was spent: While a good part of the money was allegedly used for political expenses, Olmert, he explained, was fond of high living — expensive cigars, watches, first class on flights, etc.
Sometimes there were "loans" — as for example $25,000 for a family trip to Italy. The loans have never been paid back. On one occasion, when Talansky asked for the return of money, Olmert told Talansky to speak to his son, who lives in New York, but nothing materialized.
As to those campaign expenses, documents presented showed $300,000 transferred from Talansky to Olmert lawyer and associate Uri Messer from about 1999.
Talansky says the last money he gave Olmert was in 2005. Olmert had asked for expenses for a primary, and Talansky confesses to being shocked at how much Olmert said he needed: some $70,000.
Seems that he had become disencha nted with Ehud Olmert.
Talansky, in his testimony to this point — which is extremely damning of Olmert in several respects, paints himself as innocent. "I was a victim," he says. "I trusted Olmert." He never had any ulterior motive or expected anything from what he gave Olmert. He did it for love of the man and for love of Jerusalem. He did it, it would seem, because Olmert hugged him and invited him to his son’s wedding — because it made him feel personally connected to what was important to him.
That’s how it would seem.
He did acknowledge that Olmert tried to drum up business for a venture of his. (That’s when billionaire Sheldon Adelson was approached and rebuffed the outreach.)
The question becomes one of legality: what was pure friendship, what was bribery, when was Olmert legally justified in taking the money, what does it mean that full records do not exist, etc. The testimony will continue. When Olmert’s lawyers cross examine, they will seek to discredit Talansky and to search out legal rationale for why this money would have been given.
Durban II is being thus titled because it follows Durban I, which indeed was held in Durban, S.A. But this conference will be held elsewhere.
From Anne Bayefsky, of Eye on the UN:
The next UN racism conference – known as Durban II or the Durban Review Conference – will be held on UN premises in Geneva from April 20-24, 2009, a UN preparatory committee decided today. Durban II is intended to promote the implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration, which singled out only Israel and labeled Palestinians as victims of Israeli racism
Observed Bayefsky: "holding the meeting at a UN venue on European soil will essentially guarantee funding from the UN regular budget for the conference, and that the European Union will fully participate and not follow boycott plans of Canada, the United States and Israel.
"Ironically, the Durban Review Conference will take place over Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah on April 21, 2009. Jews all over the world will be remembering the 6 million murdered in the worst instance of racism and xenophobia in human history. At the same time, the United Nations will be discussing whether the Jewish state, created in the wake of the Holocaust and standing as a bulwark to ensure it is never repeated, should be demonized as the worst practitioner of racism and xenophobia among nations today."
For further information : http://www.eyeontheun.org/
Sixty-one supporters (the number required) have promised to sign on to a bill in the Knesset that would require 80 votes to give away the Golan. This is good news.