Follow the Money Trail

Scandal and corruption once again in the Holy Land

Passover is at the end of this month and in many homes where this is celebrated, a certain ritual will be performed. We will take a feather and search for leaven and clean the house. After it is cleansed from our houses we then claim that we have removed all the leaven that we have seen and found in our search. It seems that God is honoring His Passover by cleansing the government of Israel of leaven.

This past week saw one of our nation’s top leaders in hot water.  Ariyeh Deri, not a favorite politician in Israel, was recently reinstated to the very position he had held when he was accused of financial scandals, which sent him to prison. Israeli law permits leaders to return to a top political role even after a prison term! Many were outraged when he was returned to his position and immediately petitioned to start a new official investigation into more corruption charges. The biggest complaint is his non-declaration of property ownership in Israel. A weak excuse that he has used in his defense has been, “The properties are not in my name”. It is a fact that huge amounts of money can be transferred to another person’s name and yet kept in the family so one isn’t liable to pay the taxes and ownership of the property; but the question remains that even if the properties are “not in his name”, where did Mr. Deri get the capital to purchase all those properties that have now come into question?

How many movies have we all watched where stolen money is hidden and reclaimed after a prison term? A few years in the ‘big house’ seem to be a small price to pay if the criminal can acquire millions afterwards. Is that what we are seeing here? This is not a screen drama, but the Holy Land. These are God’s Chosen people struggling with one of the very things God commanded us to be careful of – temptation.

It would seem Deri has skillfully transferred property into his family’s names and acquired an exorbitant number of parcels of choice real estate. Israeli newspapers are quick to show the exact amounts and these are in the millions – both dollars and shekels.

Some of the properties are in the north of Israel and the prices would be literally five times more if they were in Tel Aviv. Five apartments alone account for each of his children’s dwellings, plus two villas for two of his offspring. Jerusalem real estate may be compared to the most expensive property anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately, Jews who want to return to the Holy Land often find themselves living on the outskirts of cities or in the West Bank because of unaffordable prices. The desire for many, who yearn to return to the Holy Land, soon withers away in many Jewish hearts. Protests all over Israel testify to the hardship of many regarding property prices for young and old alike. So where did all the money come from for Ariyeh Deri to buy these pricy nuggets and morsels of delicacy?

These are not at all humble properties. The investigation team of the State believes it probably came from the missing money that was never found; for which Deri sat in prison just a short while ago. It seems one Jerusalem property was given in exchange for his approving the local train to operate on Shabbat. Did Mr. Deri somewhat pay a penalty for his crimes by sitting in prison for about half of his 4-year sentence? Now he is once again Interior Minister, yet lost funds which had been allocated for projects in the State went missing and were never found.

What is problematic with this re-appointment is that he was very much against Messianic Jews during his previous position as head of the Ministry of Interior. He kicked out dozens of Christians, who had been serving faithfully in the Land for decades. He pursued Messianic Jews and had the power (as he does now) to revoke visas or grant them and even deny believing Jews’ citizenship when they wanted to return to the land God gave us.

One can see how temptation may have played a part in this. Many Ukrainians today pay thousands to stay and work in Israel. Where work and visas are concerned, Israel could be the USA comparison for Eastern Europeans and others who find no work in their own depressed economic countries so go looking elsewhere. We in Israel, however, pay our workers and give them holidays, and life here can be good.

We must ask ourselves if God is calling this man Deri to answer for his sins now. It would seem highly inconvenient at this point in time as he just began his job again after serving time in jail. Yet God doesn’t do things on our terms, not in the least. Mr Deri got away with this once but is it possible he would tempt the God of Israel another time? The State apparently thinks so.  Yet the council of Torah scholars, beg him to “continue your holy work.” Indeed it does not seem kosher at this point!

How sad it is that we have seen our biggest leaders go to prison these past five years. Deri is among them of course and as an Orthodox Jew he really is not being a light to the nations as God commands Israel to be.

Pride fills a man’s heart when he has power and money. Some think they are untouchable.

The Orthodox often scorn and look with disdain on Christians. Now Deri will pay the piper for his evil deeds. Deri like a leopard never changed his spots. Only when a man is born again in Yeshua HaMashiach is he truly transformed.

So what part of bribery and corruption did the State of Israel not understand when he was reappointed?

Mrs. Netanyahu comes from a religious family; she has an Orthodox brother, and she requested that Deri not be investigated. The State, however, dismissed the request last week, saying there is plenty of doubt and they must find the truth. They will indeed investigate not only Deri, but Yitzhak Herzog as well, the head of the Labor party who is another political big wig. It seems the two are old buddies in crime, so to speak. We can only to wait and find out when the investigation is complete. Herzog was quoted in the local paper (Yediot Achronot) saying that whoever talks about this will receive the boot, meaning forever removed from politics. He maintains his innocence, but then again, so did the former US President Nixon. It does seem Herzog may not be involved and the one stirring things up is the opposition within the Labor party, Shelly Yechimovich.

In all our desire to be democratic and follow after the nations, Israel really should change that law, which allows convicts to be in leadership. Prison time should be a red flashing light. This is the Holy Land and we need holy leaders.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. May this be a lesson to us in ministry in regards to Christians too and may the Lord not see evil in us as we serve Him as well. Those who support us in our work and those who pray for us must be well esteemed. May we never feel superior because we are living in the Holy Land or because we associate with God’s dealings here. Let’s remember that there are examples we can learn from. The State may want to make and example out of Deri once again, and rightly so but, let’s pray that God gets to the very bottom of every evil thing hidden under every rock in all lives here.

Let us pray that Yeshua comes soon to reign in His beautiful Jerusalem once again, making us as the Nation of Israel free from corruption, free from evil and free from fear. What does man gain if he wins the world but loses his soul?

Lastly, pray for the leadership here to know Yeshua as King; that God would save their souls. For there is no other name under heaven by which man can be saved. We long as the people of God for that day to arise once again and together to declare, “All hail the King”, not to ask for a king Saul as we once did, but for King Yeshua to come, Maranatha.

Come Lord Yeshua and take your place.

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Miriam Abramov is Israeli and resides in Israel. She has published and written 2 books, "Shalom At Last" (co-authored with her husband Shlomy) and also her biography titled "Married to Israel". She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theology from Israel College of the Bible and pursued an M.A. degree in Jewish Missions. She sponsors tours in Hebrew for Israelis to teach about the Bible. She co-leads a fellowship with her husband and teaches on Israel’s feasts internationally. She is recognized with International Journalism status and enjoys writing free-lance about Israel from an informed citizen’s perspective on a variety of subjects connected to the Holy Land.