The timing couldn't have been worse. Bigwigs are jetting in for Israel's 60th birthday bash, yet Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's dodgy propensity for bribes and favors takes the proud sheen off of the festivities. It's not the first time the top combover has sullied the Promised Land with his distasteful sleaze factor, and he may well wriggle free of any penalties. Definitely, he makes Israeli journalists gag. Or tried to with a domestic gag order. The veteran journalist Alan Abbey explains:
Gag Orders, Global Media and the Internet
When an Israeli court said Israeli media couldn't cover an investigation of Ehud Olmert, the NY Post broke the ice.
In Israel, police are investigating Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for allegedly accepting bribes or illegal campaign contributions in the late 1990s from an American businessman. The police requested -- and an Israeli court granted -- a gag order on media coverage of this investigation. But that gag order is the latest victim of the Internet and global media.
Ostensibly, this gag order was intended to enable Israeli police to continue their investigation unimpeded. The Israeli media are notorious for reporting every scrap of information, rumor and innuendo. In this case, the gag order did not stop leaks and speculation about the case, including what may or may not have been learned, the potential political impact -- even though details were missing and few hard facts were available.
The Israeli court gag order left the media here winking, nodding, and nudging their audiences by saying, "We know what is going on, but you don't." But even that didn't last. On May 6 the New York Post broke the story of the name of the alleged "bag man" for Olmert cash payments. They followed it up on May 7 with a few new details. Also on May 7 the New York Times weighed in with a better story.
By May 8, the pressure on the Israeli cops and courts from domestic media was too much, and the gag order was partially lifted. What kind of pressure? Well, the Israeli was media saying things like, "We can't tell you what's going on, but go to the New York Post."
The gag order was officially lifted May 8 at 11 p.m. Israeli time. Minutes later the media went public with stories that had been sitting in the can for two days, and Olmert made a statement on TV addressing the matter and declaring his innocence.
Since then, the mystery donor Morris Talansky has claimed the money he gave to Olmert wasn't a bribe and pooh-poohed reports that he was scared Olmert might harm him.
In an interview in English with Israel's Channel 10 news, Talansky referred to Olmert as the o"prince of the Likud" and ridiculed speculations that he was part of a right-wing conspiracy to sabotage Olmert and his peace talks with the Palestinians.
Quite a sideshow for Rupert Murdoch, Jon Voight, George W. Bush and the bunch who are here to celebrate six decades of the Jewish democracy. Israelity bites.