Today Avigdor Lieberman resigned as Foreign Minister because of a longrunning investigation of corruption charges. Well two weeks ago, Lieberman was feted by the Saban Forum in Washington, and Robert Siegel of NPR spent an hour on stage with him, asking him many questions– and didn’t once ask him about this investigation. Nor did anyone else at the Saban Forum, which is part of the Brookings Institution.
Shouldn’t Americans have known about this case? Should a Foreign Minister under suspicion of corruption get away without being asked about it at a DC thinktank? Should a leading American journalist let Lieberman slide on the matter? I gather the case has been going on for many years; Annie Robbins likens it to the Ken Starr investigation of Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky case… From Haaretz:
According to allegations, between 2001-2008 a period in which Lieberman served as a Knesset member and minister, foreign businessmen, among them Martin Schlaff, Mikhail Chernoy and Daniel Gittenstein, transferred hundreds of millions dollars to companies owned by Lieberman in Israel, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands. Upon returning to politics after a hiatus of two years (2004-2006), Lieberman declared that he had sold his interests in these companies and was no longer connected to them. However, according to the prosecution’s investigation, he continued to receive large sums of money, even after resuming public life.
This just underlines my charge against the Saban Forum: It is an Israel lobby organization. It serves to bolster the special relationship between the Israelis and Americans. Far be it from the Saban Forum to cast any question about Lieberman’s bona fides.
Yes: Thrice now I’ve raised questions about Siegel’s service to the lobby at the Saban Forum. Another question: Martin Indyk introduced Siegel at the fete. Well then a few days later Siegel brought Indyk on to NPR to ask him about the conflict. The one hand washing the other school of journalism.