Sharon & Sons in trouble
by Hans Lebrecht Kibbutz Beit-Oren, Israel Can you imagine a Supreme Judge ordering the shutdown of a TV broadcast of a press conference by incumbent US President George W Bush? It happened, albeit not in the US, but in Israel with the incumbent Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. On January 9, PM Sharon had hardly started his address when our screens turned dark and the news studios of the various channels appeared. The moderators announced that on an urgent order of the chairman of the Central Election Board, Supreme Court Judge Mishael Cheshin, the broadcast had been blacked out. The matter was about the latest offence against the law by our highly esteemed Prime Minister. Supreme Court Judge Cheshin had ordered the state- owned TV and radio channels to stop the broadcast because Sharon had used the TV screening of his press conference for electioneering propaganda, and thus had contravened the election law. Sharon was supposed solely to tell the media his version about the accusations against him and his sons, Gideon and Omri, concerning a multi- million dollar bribe and fund-raising scandal during his 1999 election drive against his party rival Benjamin Netanyahu for the Prime Minister's post. The daily Ha'aretz had published a document the Israeli police criminal investigation department had sent via the Foreign Ministry to South Africa, asking for assistance in the investigations of the Sharon file regarding a wealthy Cape-Town businessman. The Israeli State Attorney is investigating the Sharons over allegations the Prime Minister lied about US$1.5 million used to repay illegal campaign funds. The investigation goes back five years. The Sharons are alleged to have approached Cyril Kern, a British businessman living in South Africa who had served under Sharon in the fighting against the British in 1948, and that Kern paid the sons the money. Sharon's financial scandal has become public interest number one. If and how far these two matters will influence the results of the forthcoming Knesset elections has yet to be seen.