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Ehud Olmert’s JNF-sponsored tour nixed after corruption conviction

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. (Photo: Algemeiner.com)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. (Photo: Algemeiner.com)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was supposed to be feted on U.S. campuses this week.  Instead, he’s in Israel, waiting to be sentenced after being convicted of corruption.

The man who prosecuted Israel’s devastating 2008-09 assault on Gaza was convicted of taking bribes on March 31st.  While mayor of Jerusalem, Olmert took $160,000 in cash to speed along the building of the Holyland housing estate.  The Israeli judge castigated Olmert for lying in court about the bribery.

The conviction threw a big wrench in Olmert’s travel plans.  He’s not allowed to leave the country, and he faces up to 10 years in prison.

The former prime minister will miss out on the Jerusalem Post‘s big annual confab in New York City, where he was booed last year for arguing in favor of a Palestinian state. And his tour on college campuses, sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), has also been nixed.

Olmert’s talk on college campuses was to be focused on Israeli democracy. “Our goal is to reach a diverse population at each of these campuses and for thousands of students to hear a Positively Israel message of how Israel is helping to make the world a better place through the unique viewpoint of a prime minister,” the JNF’s Mara Suskauer told the Jewish Press.

His tour would have hit Texas A&M; Cornell; the University of Pennsylvania; and the University of Michigan, where protests of Olmert were being organized. The Michigan Daily‘s Allana Akhtar reported that “graduate students delivered a petition to the University questioning the decision to invite an allegedly corrupt politician to speak and criticizing the nature of his scheduled lecture.”

The University of Michigan appearance would likely have provoked outside protests, particularly from residents of Dearborn, Michigan.  The large Arab population of the Michigan city includes many people from South Lebanon, which bore the brunt of Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, when Olmert was prime minister.  More than 1,000 Lebanese died during the fighting, the vast majority of them civilians.

In October 2009, an Olmert lecture at the University of Chicago was repeatedly disrupted by activists who drew attention to Olmert’s role in Operation Cast Lead, the name given to the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-09.  About 1,400 people in Gaza were killed during the operation, most of them civilians.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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41 Responses

  1. Krauss on April 4, 2014, 12:48 pm

    Poor “liberal” Zionists. Who will they invent as a peacenik now?

    I mean, they’ve been trying to paint Lieberman as a Changed Man Who Has Seen The Light. It’s a regular occurence. But I have a sneaking suspicion that even these self-deluded “liberal” Zionists, deep down, know they are bullshitting; know that they are lying.

    Because sometimes when you read these whitewashing articles of Liberman, you can almost smell the self-loathing the writer has, because he knows he is doing something dirty.

    • Daniel Rich on April 5, 2014, 4:00 am

      @ Krauss,

      Q: ..they’ve been trying to paint Lieberman as a Changed Man Who Has Seen The Light.

      R: Lieberman has spotted the deer that’s seen the light. He’s now busy reloading…

  2. pabelmont on April 4, 2014, 1:04 pm

    As to Olmert: A corrupt man may be a peacenik. We are always confusing matters of personal morality (and political morality) with matters of statesmanship.

    Of course, the LZ’s are always in trouble since their idea of peace has little to do with the “just and lasting peace” imagined by UNSC 242 (“the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security”), or, for that matter, with Abraham Lincoln earlier use of the phrase:

    With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

    Although, of course, Palestine was not a “State” in 1967 and God is always everyone’s ally.

  3. DICKERSON3870 on April 4, 2014, 1:28 pm

    RE: “While mayor of Jerusalem, Olmert took $160,000 in cash to speed along the building of the Holyland housing estate… and he faces up to 10 years in prison.” ~ Ale Kane

    MY COMMENT: As far as I’m concerned, Olmert richly deserves to get the full 10 years in prison for helping to create the hideous Holyland monstrosity!
    The Holyland desecration of Jerusalem is yet another reason that Jerusalem must be made an international city before Israeli developers turn it into Miami Beach East!

  4. MHughes976 on April 4, 2014, 1:42 pm

    The relationship between personal and political can be very tortuous. Perhaps Olmert took bribes to further a political career intended to bring moderation and peace.

  5. annie on April 4, 2014, 3:48 pm

    ” Our goal is to reach a diverse population at each of these campuses and for thousands of students to hear a Positively Israel message of how Israel is helping to make the world a better place ..”

    for more on JNF’s Positively Israel: http://mondoweiss.net/2012/03/jnf-launches-new-bluewashing-website-positivelyisrael.html

  6. John Douglas on April 4, 2014, 6:21 pm

    Netanyahu was twice legally charged with corruption around the time he was politically charged with being soft on the Palestinians of Hebron. Rabin was killed by a right wing Jewish Israeli during the time he proposed dealing realistically with the I/P issues. Sharon relinquished Gaza and was talking about dealing with the settlers when a stroke cut him down. Olmert described realistically the quandary that right-wing Zionists had made for themselves through the settlement policies, even used the A-word, and was charged with corruption and forced out. Only Netanyahu survives, but as a tool of the settler movement. Quite bad luck for the Palestinian people.

  7. thankgodimatheist on April 4, 2014, 6:54 pm

    I find it amusing that in Israeli judiciary it’s much easier to investigate and find evidence of corruption than it is for war crimes. Maybe because war crimes , unlike corruption, are not a serious crime and are not investigated in the Jewish state.

    • seafoid on April 5, 2014, 3:55 am

      It’s all upside down. Olmert is corrupt. $ 190, 000.
      according to the legal system.
      Lieberman is clean. YESHA costs to date : over $100 billion.

      The same legal system that keeps the occupation going.
      And everything is fine.

      I followed Olmert from when he was the mayor of west jerusalem. Another likuk hawk, a chancer. They haven’t had an honest politician in years.

      James Howard Kunstler says efficiency is the straightest road to hell. Zionist efficiency means all of the land and everyone on message. No Jimmy Carters, no conversions on the road to Damascus.
      What is the Hebrew for entropy ?

      • Daniel Rich on April 5, 2014, 4:05 am

        @ seafoid,

        Q: They haven’t had an honest politician in years.

        R: In all honesty, that’s not only a problem in Israel.

      • seafoid on April 5, 2014, 9:59 am

        They need truth tellers more than most countries do.

  8. seafoid on April 5, 2014, 4:01 am

    Olmert reminds me of one of my Israeli colleagues who is also part Mizrahi and has strongly Hebrew accented English. Always good to get him going on the subject of Gaza. They really hate Gaza and it is so hard to explain in English without getting frustrated or lapsing into Hebrew.

    • wondering jew on April 5, 2014, 4:22 am

      (Warning: This statement does not take into account many significant political factors.)

      Not to deny the Palestinians their path towards liberation, but if you had given the Jews a country with a coast on the Mediterranean, even as small as Gaza is even as overcrowded as it is, the Jews would have turned it into something more than what Hamas has done with it. I know it’s unfair, because Hamas has to worry about freeing all the Palestinians and even if they haven’t done anything in that direction that is what they are worried about rather than creating a country.

      • talknic on April 5, 2014, 4:55 am

        @ yonah fredman ” if you had given the Jews a country with a coast on the Mediterranean, even as small as Gaza is even as overcrowded as it is, the Jews would have turned it into something more than what Hamas has done with it.”

        Uh huh “if you had given the Jews a country with a coast on the Mediterranean, even as small as Gaza is even as overcrowded as it is” and under occupation, lack of control over airspace, territorial waters, border crossings, embargoes, blockades, financial strangulation, unable to stop incursions from it’s friendly territory hungry occupying neighbour …

        Say …. tell us some more meaningless speculative fairy tales uncle fredo

      • seafoid on April 5, 2014, 5:20 am

        Yonah, that is outrageous. What sort of economies did the Boer concentration camps manage? Would Jews have done any better ?

        And anyway Gaza is not a statelet. It Is an integral part of Palestine.

      • Ellen on April 5, 2014, 11:47 pm

        How is it integral if separated from Palestine? Families cannot even visit each other due to Israeli force separation.

      • seafoid on April 6, 2014, 2:04 am

        That is temporary, Ellen.

      • RoHa on April 6, 2014, 3:54 am

        @Ellen.

        Gaza is an integral part of geographical Palestine.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 5, 2014, 10:20 am

        “(Warning: This statement does not take into account many significant political factors.)”

        Making it known that you’re aware that you’re making a blatantly bigoted statement doesn’t get you off the hook for making a blatantly bigoted statement, yonah.

        “if you had given the Jews a country with a coast on the Mediterranean, even as small as Gaza is even as overcrowded as it is, the Jews would have turned it into something more than what Hamas has done with it. ”

        This is either the most ignorant or the most bigoted statement I’ve ever read on this site. Because either you’re saying that, if all else remained the same, that these Jews would harness their magical Jewishness and created something that these pathetic non-Jews are unable to do, given their clear lack of Jewishness.

        Or you are completely ignorant of the oppression which the Gazans are subject by the Israelis. Because the state of Gaza is not the result of what the Gazans haven’t done, but of what the Israelis have done to Gaza and the Gazans.

        And don’t forget that the Jews in Israel had a country like Germany which it could blackmail for thousands of millions to pay for infrastructure and a wealthy diaspora which could supply it with money, an unearned access to capital markets and later a billion-dollar per year sugar daddy. The Gazans have no such luck.

      • tree on April 6, 2014, 5:14 am

        And don’t forget that the Jews in Israel had a country like Germany which it could blackmail for thousands of millions to pay for infrastructure and a wealthy diaspora which could supply it with money, an unearned access to capital markets and later a billion-dollar per year sugar daddy. The Gazans have no such luck.

        Also don’t forget that the Jews in Israel had the considerable capital goods and land that they stole from the Palestinians they dispossessed, both those that they expelled and those that remained in Israel under martial law for the first 19 years of Israel’s existence.

        I’ll repeat, because this bears repeating, from an earlier post of mine:

        The provisional government used the Arabs’ land, dwellings, and possessions for its Jewish population, and primarily for recent immigrants. Ben Gurion ordered that abandoned Arab housing be allocated to Jews. By April 1949, he reported to the Knesset, the government had settled 150,000 Jews in Arab housing.

        The government also took housing from Arabs who remained inside the armistice lines. In Haifa in July 1948 the IDF forced out Arab residents of the Carmel ridge area to make room for Jews. It forced Arabs from their homes in Acre into what became an Arab ghetto. Many “internal refugees” tried to return to their homes. Their land, like that of the Arab “external refugees”, was considered “absentee” property and was controlled by the custodian of absentee property, who rented it to Jews-the rent money going to the government.
        …..

        The value of the land taken from the Palestine Arabs was estimated at 100 million Palestinian pounds. It included stone quarries, 10,000 acres of vineyards, 25, 000 acres of citrus groves, 10.000 business establishments, 95 percent of what became Israel’s olive groves, and 50,000 apartments.
        …..

        The government took over fully equipped plants. In Ramleh, it distributed 600 shops to Jewish immigrants. In Lydda it seized 1800 truckloads of property, including a button factory, a carbonated drinks plant, a sausage factory, 7000 retail shops, 500 workshops, and 1000 warehouses. It confiscated cabinetmaking shops, locksmith works, turneries, ironworks, and tinworks, which it then leased and sold to Jews.

        From “The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective”, John Quigley

        It should be noted that in the 1950s, Israel’s largest export was oranges, with over half of the crop formerly owned by Palestinians prior to 1948, according to the British Survey of Mandate Palestine. Its third largest export was olives, which were 95% Palestinian prior to 1948. By 1954, 35% of Israeli Jews lived on land and/or property confiscated from Palestinians. Even with all the confiscated property from the ethnically cleansed Palestinians, and the few “present absentees” (Palestinians who managed to remain in Israel but had their property confiscated through immoral legal maneuver) Israel was reliant on “reparation” payments from Germany for 87.5% of its state income in the 1950’s and 60’s.

        I’m sure some, perhaps even most, Israeli Jews worked hard but Israel got where it is today by stealing from the Palestinians and taking handouts from other countries. Its nothing to be particularly proud of, and Israel more closely resembles a state that expects other states and/or people to hand it what it wants on a platter, or at least allow it to go on stealing what it wants, than it does a state built on the hard work of its citizens.

      • jon s on April 6, 2014, 6:37 am

        Looking up the definition of “blackmail”:

        “the crime of threatening to tell secret information about someone unless the person being threatened gives you money or does what you want”.

        So, in Woody’s view , German post-war reparations were blackmail, an Israeli crime. I’ll give Woody credit for being consistent.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 7, 2014, 12:45 pm

        “So, in Woody’s view , German post-war reparations were blackmail”

        Of course they were blackmail. They were payments that were not going to those who had suffered, but to a state which did not even exist when the German crimes occurred, and under the threat that Germany would forever face the claims if they did not agree to the payments. Blackmail.

      • thankgodimatheist on April 5, 2014, 6:39 pm

        And Warsaw ghetto was such an example, Yonah?

      • wondering jew on April 5, 2014, 8:02 pm

        The existence of a border with Egypt is not insignificant and should not be denied and makes the comparison with Warsaw ghetto specious.

        If Hamas had been willing to declare the West Bank a separate cause, then the independent country of Gaza could make peace with Israel and its situation would be radically different than what it is. I accept that Hamas “cannot” declare the West Bank a separate cause and cannot declare Gaza a country at peace with Israel.

        (The Zionist dictum was one dunam, one cow, one day. As such, had Gaza become Jewish sovereign territory in say 1937, the Zionists would have done more with it than Hamas has done, because Hamas’s dictum is sumud, patient struggle, an entirely different dynamic than one dunam, one cow, one day.)

      • Ellen on April 5, 2014, 11:43 pm

        Yonah, Hamas has really little to do the dire state of Gaza. Gaza is under Israeli blockade!

        And btw, remind us again who was it that funded and nurtured Hamas in its early days?

        Without Israel, Hamas never would have established itself. Thea plan is working….it is now the perfect scapegoat talking point for propagandists.

      • seafoid on April 6, 2014, 2:10 am

        Why would hamas have declared the west bank a separate cause? If Murmelstein had sung Erika would the Shoah have been avoided ? Psychosis does whatever it wants. Israel is on the path of maximum psychotic efficiency. All or nothing ending in nothing.

      • tree on April 6, 2014, 5:02 am

        … one dunam, one cow, one day.

        Which, along with a lot of money from Diaspora Jews and their sponsorship by the British Mandate got the Zionists 6% of Palestine. Then they engaged in ethnic cleansing and dispossessed the Palestinians of vastly more than “one dunam, one cow, one day.” They built their state on the backs of the Palestinians they dispossessed, but you still think that is something for Jews to be proud of. Shame for you.

        And BTW Zionists had complete control of Gaza from 1967 to at least 2006 (40 years) and they did absolutely nothing good for it. They depleted the water supply, and denied the Palestinians under their control of any gains in infrastructure or economy that wasn’t wholly dependent on and subservient to Israeli Jewish interests. Now Israel’s control of Gaza is exercised externally, and is used to punish. You want to be proud of that too?

        I strongly suggest you read Shira Robinson’s “Citizen Strangers” and then tell us how proud you are of the racism inherent in the Jewish State.

      • jon s on April 6, 2014, 10:30 am

        Yonah ,sorry to be nitpicking, but the slogan was “one more dunam, one more goat”.
        עוד דונם, עוד עז
        It’s attributed to Haim Weizmann.

      • Woody Tanaka on April 7, 2014, 12:40 pm

        “The Zionist dictum was one dunam, one cow, one day. ”

        Which was short for “Today you give us one dunam, one cow, and one day we’ll steal the rest.”

      • Woody Tanaka on April 7, 2014, 12:51 pm

        “The existence of a border with Egypt is not insignificant and should not be denied and makes the comparison with Warsaw ghetto specious.”

        Oh, baloney. The Israelis know that their puppets in Washington have turned the Egyptian generals into their pets, so they control that border by proxy, too. And they’ve also made it clear that if someone like the Brotherhood or someone like them, willing to relieve the oppression of Gazans, were to come to power in Egypt, that Israel would simply reoccupy the Philadelphia Corridor, to ensure that Gaza continues to get the Warsaw Ghetto treatment.

        “If Hamas had been willing to declare the West Bank a separate cause, then the independent country of Gaza could make peace with Israel and its situation would be radically different than what it is.”

        When will you people ever tire of blaming the victim?? Of thinking that people are at fault for not assisting the Israelis in their ethnic cleansing/attempted genocide??

      • Ellen on April 5, 2014, 11:52 pm
      • adele on April 6, 2014, 2:15 am

        Yonah,
        Have you no shame, an ounce of compassion, an iota of remorse for making such a reprehensible statement? Those are human beings in Gaza who live behind an electrified fence installed by Israel. You know and I know that no amount of resourcefulness can ever overcome the constraints that Israel has put on Gaza. Israel is choking Gaza, and you know it. Enough, you have gone too far.

      • RoHa on April 6, 2014, 4:10 am

        Yonah, if Gaza had been inhabited by Presbyterian Scotsmen or Shinto Japanese (and not kept under blockade, etc,) I have no doubt that they would have made it into a thriving concern. And yet Presbyterian Scotsness and Shinto Japaneseness are no more magical than Jewishness. It is because the Scots and the Japanese are (like European and American Jews) heirs to and participants in modern methods and attitudes. The Arabs in general are still catching up with those.

        But that aside, what is the point of your speculation? How does it affect the rights of the Palestinians?

      • Orryia on April 6, 2014, 7:00 am

        tree- “They depleted the water supply.”

        “In the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians are in full control, over 3,000 unapproved wells were drilled immediately following Israel’s withdrawal, causing a severe drop in water levels and seriously harming the quality of water in the Gaza Aquifer and the general Gaza water economy. This situation is ongoing and is even intensifying (there are many more unapproved than approved wells). The total damage caused is clear and is difficult to reverse. The phenomenon in Gaza has not been stopped and the only ones affected are the Gaza residents (although it may be reasonably assumed that without proper supervision and enforcement, even the Mountain Aquifer will eventually be severely affected).” (http://www.water.gov.il/Hebrew/Pages/Water-Authority-Info.aspx – 21 Water Issues Between Israel and the Palestinians)

        This is just Zionist propaganda, of course, so pay no attention.

      • tree on April 6, 2014, 2:03 pm

        This is just Zionist propaganda, of course, so pay no attention.

        Yes, it is. Your source is the government of Israel, which has lied consistently about its own policies and refuses to take blame for any of its actions in Gaza over its 40 years of internal control of Gaza’s water. I’ll repeat again from an earlier post of mine referencing Israel’s water policy in Gaza in 1995, when it was firmly in control of Gaza water resources.

        From Sara Roy’s “The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-Development”, published in 1995:

        The insufficiency and decreased quality of Gaza’s water supply have been exacerbated by Israel’s own, often urgent, need to supplement its own water resources. In accordance with the Israel Water Law of 1959, water was declared to be a public commodity soon after the occupation began. This declaration exceeded the rights of an occupying power under international law….Prevailing Egyptian law was amended with Military Order 158, which required a license for digging new wells. Given Israel’s need to control and use water resources, however, Military Order 158 translated into a prohibition on the development of new water sources by the Arab population only. These restrictions have never applied to the Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip.

        Government measures regarding water use have assumed several forms in Gaza. First, despite the restrictions imposed on the Arab population, the authorities bored five 20-inch artesian wells in the Strip that draw water from Gaza’s own limited sources for Jewish (including settler) use. Second, Gaza’s most important source of surface water and one that it shares in common with Israel, the Wadi Gaza (Or Nahal Bessor in Hebrew) is diverted wholly for use by Israel. The Wadi Gaza has catchment areas in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel and arguably provides 20 mcm to 30 mcm of water per year. However, Israel impounds this water before it even enters Gaza. Third, part of Gaza’s aquifer -50 mcm to 60 mcm per year- flows from Israel. Although Israel denies it, Palestinian hydrologists claim that Israel intercepts this flow, leaving small quantities for Gaza. Fourth, unofficial reports from foreign development agencies working in the Gaza Strip maintain that in 1985, the (Israeli) government dug between three and five boreholes so close to Israel’s border with Gaza that water drawn from them was being drawn from Gaza’s own reserves instead. Fifth, government sanction of Jewish settlement in Gaza has further limited the amount of water available to the Arab sector. Water use among Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip prevents Palestinian agriculturalists from making optimal use of available water, a fact that has no doubt played a role in confining farming methods within a decidedly traditional framework.

        Jewish settler water usage in Gaza at the time was 18 times the Palestinian usage there. Israel also installed over 35-40 new wells for the settlers by 1995 and dug them much deeper than the Palestinian wells, adversely affecting those wells by drawing water away from them. Jewish settlers in Gaza, in contrast to their Palestinian neighbors, did not suffer from Israeli government imposed water quotas, and in fact had their water usage subsidized by the government. The town of Khan Younis, in comparison, had only 6 wells supplying its water, and five of them were built during Egyptian rule, leaving exactly one that was allowed to be built by Israel during its lengthy occupation there. Compare that with the 35-40 wells built for Jewish settlers.

        Israel totally diminished and abused Gaza’s water supply during its long occupation, depleting its aquifers and increasing their salinity, and it continues to do so by interfering with water resources that Gaza would normally benefit from without Israel’s craven interference. And of course, in addition, one of the greater pressures on Gaza’s water resources in the large number of people it must sustain. The large number of people living in Gaza is the direct result of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of its Palestinian population. Israel is the primary culprit behind the devastated water situation in Gaza.

        link to my earlier post: http://mondoweiss.net/2013/12/imprison-security-jordanian.html#comment-624781

        And here’s another earlier post of mine which goes into a few of the regulations that Israel set up in Gaza to cripple Gaza’s economy and infrastructure starting in 1967, lest you dig up more lies from the Israeli government about how benevolent they were in Gaza:

        http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/city-gaza-part.html/comment-page-1#comment-566612

        http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/city-gaza-part.html#comment-566612

      • eljay on April 6, 2014, 8:43 am

        >> If Hamas had been willing to declare the West Bank a separate cause, then the independent country of Gaza could make peace with Israel and its situation would be radically different than what it is.

        If Israel had been willing to…
        – halt its on-going occupation and colonization of Palestine;
        – honour its obligations under international law; and
        – declare Israel a secular and democratic state of and for all its Israeli citizens, equally,
        …Israel could make peace with the Palestinians and with its neighbours and its situation would be radically different than what it is.

        But Israel is more worried about remaining a supremacist “Jewish State” and retaining as much as possible of what it has stolen.

        Shame on the Palestinians (in Gaza and elsewhere) for not accepting this truth and simply moving on with their lives.

      • RoHa on April 6, 2014, 9:04 am

        “Shame on the Palestinians (in Gaza and elsewhere) for not accepting this truth ”

        and the shelling, the bombing, and the blockade

        “and simply moving on with their lives.”

        Those who’ve still got lives, that is.

      • American on April 6, 2014, 7:49 am

        yonah fredman says…

        ” if you had given the Jews a country with a coast on the Mediterranean, even as small as Gaza is even as overcrowded as it is, the Jews would have turned it into something more than what Hamas has done with it.”>>>>

        lordy, lordy……such illusions of grandeur and superiority you have…..

      • Walid on April 7, 2014, 12:34 pm

        “… the Jews would have turned it into something more than what Hamas has done with it.”

        American, it’s more like delusion. The great country that Yonah described doesn’t take into account the almost a quarter of Israel’s population living below the poverty line and this includes about 40% of the holocaust survivors despite the billions that Israel has collected on their backs. Israel is at the bottom of the OECD list and a shame to it. A great charity is doing its best to help these people. I found out about them and their work from seafoid a while back. Yonah probably never heard of this group. I was reminded of this group from an ad in Haaretrz today.

  9. Katie Miranda on April 5, 2014, 11:02 pm

    The sound that is playing in my head right now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMpXAknykeg

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