Ethics and Oligarchs in Tel Aviv
ONE OF Israel’s leading academics has admitted lobbying in defence of sanctioned oligarch Roman Abramovich, saying: “When someone offers you $50 million, you sign their letter.”
The tycoon was already controversial for reported links to organised crime as well as his role as Putin’s international financial fixer, but had been welcomed as a big donor to Israeli institutions as well as to international campaigns against ‘racism’ and ‘anti-semitism’.
Just two days before the invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich and the Israeli ‘holocaust’ memorial Yad Vashem announced a “strategic partnership” in which the oligarch would donate tens of millions of dollars. He had acquired Israeli citizenship in 2018.
Perhaps it was unsurprising therefore that soon after the invasion Yad Vashem’s chairman Danny Dayan was among signatories to a letter from influential Israelis to the US Ambassador in Jerusalem, calling on the American authorities to refrain from sanctioning Abramovich.
These distinguished Jews, including Israel’s Chief Rabbi, wrote:
We are examples of institutions that have benefited from Roman Abramovich, and have long-standing ties with him. We implore you warmly to consider Roman Abramovich’s position and importance to the community and to Israel. We warn that any action against him will not only be unfair, but will also negatively impact the Jewish world and Israel.
After the appeal failed and Western governments proceeded with sanctions, a few of these institutions belatedly distanced themselves from the disgraced oligarch. Yad Vashem suspended their receipt of his largesse, but has not handed back his earlier gifts.
One of the senior Israelis who co-wrote the letter and remains unabashed is Professor Ariel Porat, president of Tel Aviv University, which had received $50 million from Abramovich.
Last week in a secret meeting with senior academics, Porat – one of Israel’s leading legal scholars – defended the university’s links with Abramovich. He admitted: “Unfortunately there is a legal impediment to taking money from [Abramovich]. After the war is over, I imagine the sanctions will be lifted.”
And he told his colleagues: “When someone offers you $50 million, you sign their letter.”
One of Porat’s critics pointed out: “No one is disputing the necessity of donations — but not at all costs and at any condition. It is embarrassing that an academic institution is willing to sell its prestige and social standing for money.”
Embarrassing, but in the case of Tel Aviv University and Roman Abramovich not surprising.
* * *
Source: Heritage and Destiny magazine