Archive for the ‘Alexander Mashkevitch’ Category

"In the East, all our ‘anti-Semites’ sit in prison”

November 4, 2010

I have difficulty commiserating with the benefactors of the rape of Russia. Expect ‘relations with our Jewish brothers’ to become even cruder.

Ukrainian billionaire and Jewish philanthropist Igor Kolomoisky, left, raises a vodka toast with Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, drinking, at Berlin’s Chabad center during a conference of the European Council of Jewish Communities, Oct. 25, 2010. (Berlin Chabad)

Like NBA’s Nets, European Jewish group gets an oligarch, but some see Soviet-style takeover

Uriel Heilman – JTA

November 2, 2010

BERLIN (JTA) — Two Jewish billionaires who came to Berlin from Ukraine last week for a conference on European Jewish life skipped out on the gathering during a session on the global financial crisis.

Instead they were downing vodka shots with Israel’s chief rabbi in the basement of Berlin’s gleaming Chabad center.

One of the two billionaires, banking magnate Igor Kolomoisky, who with $2 billion in assets ranks No. 488 on Forbes magazine’s 2010 list of the world’s richest people, had just been named the new president of the host organization, the European Council of Jewish Communities. He was awarded the position after committing to give the organization an annual multimillion-euro gift for five years — at least $14 million.

Depending on whom one talked to, the appointment was either a generous lifeline to a cash-strapped organization focused on social welfare and education or a hostile takeover of a group with an important-sounding name.

The problem was that Kolomoisky had not been elected but appointed unilaterally by the organization’s outgoing president, Jonathan Joseph, who had met Kolomoisky for the first time earlier that day. Joseph defended his sudden decision as justified by the size of Kolomoisky’s gift — and by the need to respond to a man who might not be inclined to wait for an official vote from the board of directors.

“If we were going to do business together, we had to do business now,” Joseph told JTA, explaining why he skipped the “niceties of the procedures of the ECJC.” Joseph said, “It’s a good opportunity for him; it’s a good opportunity for us.”

The appointment was celebrated with a dinner of foie gras and braised duck for some 150 people at Berlin’s swankiest hotel, the Adlon — paid for by Kolomoisky, according to Joseph.

But the few board members from the social welfare organization who were present at the dinner found the turn of events jarring.

“This is not a democratic process,” Arturo Tedeschi, an EJCJ board member from Italy, told JTA. “It took place like a Soviet-style takeover.”

Tedeschi and four other board members subsequently resigned. Days later the Italian Union of Jewish Communities withdrew from ECJC.

It wasn’t just the undemocratic nature of the appointment that rankled board members and raised eyebrows here. The appointment also touched the nerve of East-West tensions simmering just beneath the surface of European Jewish life.

For decades, Eastern European and Russian Jewish communities were beneficiaries of the West’s largesse, and in the early years of post-Communist life they were rebuilt by American, Israeli and Western European Jews who did everything from pay for their meals to show them how to pray in synagogue.

Now, two decades since the fall of communism and with Western Jewish institutions mired in financial woes, Jews from the former Soviet Union — oligarchs who made their fortunes as capitalism emerged from the Soviet collapse — are swooping in to take over the leadership of several key European Jewish organizations.

Some view this as a positive development, a rescue from the East. While Western Jewish donors are tired and overextended, the philanthropists from the East are energetic and looking to give, Joseph said.

“They may dress funny and drink too much, but they’re sharp,” Joseph said. “They haven’t been rubbed down and made dull yet.”

Others view the changes more ominously, questioning the motives of the philanthropists from the East — businessmen for whom political connections come in handy.

“Now they have a little toy with which they can go around and say this is the opinion of European Jews,” said Bianca Tedeschi, who came to the conference from Italy with her husband, Arturo. “It’s very scary.”

Joseph defended Kolomoisky.

“His reputation, which we checked out, is a very, very good one,” Joseph said. “Yes, he has commercial disputes, but so does every businessman. His integrity is excellent.”

The ECJC is hardly the first such organization to become the pet project of a Russian-speaking oligarch.

In 2007, computer and agrochemical giant Moshe Kantor, No. 773 on the Forbes list with a net worth of $1.3 billion, was elected president of the European Jewish Congress. Alexander Mashkevitch, a Kazakh who has appeared on Forbes’ lists and is in the metals and gas businesses, heads the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. Ukrainian Vadim Rabinovitch, another oligarch and media mogul, is a vice president of the ECJC.

It’s not just happening in the Jewish world. Russian Jewish tycoon Roman Abramovitch bought Britain’s venerated Chelsea soccer team in 2003. Last year, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the NBA’s New Jersey Nets.

But while Prokhorov’s purchase of the Nets was widely applauded (the basketball team, which last year nearly compiled the worst record in NBA history, could use some cash and a change of direction), the infusion of Easterners into Western Jewish organizations has not been universally cheered.

“We will not be colonized by a Ukrainian, that’s for sure,” one ECJC board member said at the parley in Berlin.

East-West tensions were evident throughout the conference, which drew not only Jewish organizational leaders from throughout Europe but several Israeli officials — including Education Minister Gidon Sa’ar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger — and the executive vice-president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein.

The East-West resentment runs both ways — something Rabinovitch, the other oligarch who was pouring vodka shots at Chabad in Berlin — acknowledged in a speech at the conference.

“Sometimes we look at each other and we seem to be afraid of each other,” Rabinovitch said of Eastern and Western European Jews at the session, to which he showed up clad in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a baseball cap (everyone else wore jackets and ties). “We’re now more active. We’re really taking steps forward.”

Many in the East view Western Europeans as timid and ineffectual, unwilling to stand up unabashedly for Israel and against anti-Semitism. Lamenting that fact, Rabinovitch recalled how, in Ukraine, “We found anti-Semitic organizations and terminated them.”

“It’s different in Western Europe — there are legal problems,” Rabinovitch said. “In the East, all our anti-Semites sit in prison.”

Eastern European Jewish officials also complain of a paternalistic attitude from the West that’s no longer appropriate now that Eastern Jewish communities have come into their own after decades of communist suppression of Jewish life.

“We’re ready to be an integrated part of the international Jewish community,” said Dmitry Maryasis, director of the Moscow office of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.

In Western Europe, however, the emerging Jewish leaders from the East often are seen as uncultured, undignified and of questionable backgrounds. Some Jewish oligarchs have been arrested or linked with shady business dealings.

Leonid Nevzlin, a billionaire who once managed Russia’s largest energy company, Yukos, and is now a major Jewish philanthropist living in Israel, was convicted in 2008 by a Russian court of organizing five murders. Nevzlin, in absentia, dismissed the judgment as a politically motivated farce.

In September, Mashkevitch was caught aboard a luxury yacht stopped by the Turkish authorities for allegedly hosting an orgy with high-end prostitutes. Mashkevitch says he was not involved with the prostitution ring and was not arrested.

In one widely discussed incident, Kantor reportedly presented German Chancellor Angela Merkel with a bar of soap when they met several years ago to remind her of what the Nazis did to their Jewish victims as they were ushered into the gas chambers.

“They’re like loose canons; they’re not really answerable to anyone,” said Susy Stone, who came to the ECJC conference from London. “The Jewish community needs a little more levelheadedness.”

New Knucklehead Billionaires, Same Old Judaism

November 1, 2010

On the collapse of the economy of the West, the rabbis see greener pastures in Eastern Europe.

This should be read in tandem with Get to Know Alexander Mashkevich.

… many [Judaic] communities of the Former Soviet Union are rolling in oligarchs, who appear to have more money than they know what to do with.

But, luckily, there are plenty of rabbis around to advise them how to invest in their Jewish identity.

Winds of communal change


October 29, 2010

If a conference that took place in Berlin last weekend is anything to go by, Jewish leaders in the West need a rapid Russian language induction course — and an equally rapid re-think of how things get done.

Jonathan Joseph, the South African-born, British-based president of the European Council of Jewish Communities, may not have done the Russian Berlitz course yet but he has certainly got to grips with how things get done.

To the clear consternation of some present in Berlin, Mr Joseph, with the quiet but determined air of someone producing a rabbit out of a hat, unveiled his great prize — a Ukrainian billionaire, Igor Kolomoisky.

ECJC president-elect Mr Kolomoisky, a grizzled 48, turns out to be a shy oligarch who collects German and French expressionist art and — more importantly — has showered millions on his home town of Dnepropetrovsk, transforming it into one of the strongest Jewish communities in the eastern bloc.

But he insisted that Mr Kolomoisky had “a very high business reputation”.

He has made his fortune in metals and private banking and, latterly, has bought two Ukrainian TV stations.

The new president, who did not utter a word in public at the Berlin conference, has apparently pledged “millions of euros to strengthen Jewish life in Europe.”

Such life, if last week’s meeting of the European Conference of Presidents is anything to go by, is undergoing a seismic shift.

On stage at a number of sessions and feted by the organisation’s leadership were a variety of people with, shall we say, difficult reputations.

Alexander Mashkevitch, the Kazakhstan-born billionaire who is president of the Euro-Asian Congress, hit the headlines in September when found on board a 450-foot luxury yacht raided by Turkish police investigating alleged prostitution and human trafficking of minors.

He was not arrested, but questions are still being asked in Israel, where he also holds citizenship.

Vadim Rabinovitch, an ECJC vice-president, has also had his fair share of run-ins with authorities in Ukraine and elsewhere.

President of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, Mr Rabinovitch is another oligarch who has been accused of a variety of offences, but has overcome them and is a committed figure at European Jewish events.

For the dawning truth may well be that the tide has turned and that old Europe — cash-poor, still struggling with the legacy of the Holocaust, and reeling from the effects of the global financial crisis — is now going to have to swallow its pride and turn to new Europe.

Restitution money is drying up and the much-relied-upon financial support of the Americans, who often took great delight in telling the European peasants what to do, has also dissipated.

In contrast many communities of the Former Soviet Union are rolling in oligarchs, who appear to have more money than they know what to do with.

But, luckily, there are plenty of rabbis around to advise them how to invest in their Jewish identity.

World Jewish Congress Oligarch Chartered Child-Rape Boat

October 8, 2010

Here’s a little perspective for those who were cajoled by Sasha Baron “Cohen’s” depiction of the people of Kazakhstan as child-raping ‘antisemites.’ Some of us aren’t going along with ancient Khazarian vendettas.

Jewish Leader Arrested in Alleged Sex Trade Scheme

October 8, 2010

JTA Wire Service

A Jewish billionaire who heads a branch of the World Jewish Congress was among 14 businessmen and underage [Russian and Ukrainian] prostitutes arrested on a yacht in Turkey.

Alexander Mashkevitch, born in 1954, heads the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. He is a citizen of Kazakhstan and Israel.

The arrests came in late September after a tip to Turkish authorities that the luxury boat was being used for illegal purposes, The Los Angeles Times reported. The Turkish government, which had leased out the yacht, has repossessed it.

The yacht once belonged to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.

Turkish authorities say they have documents proving that Mashkevitch paid up front to rent the yacht for five days and that the prostitutes were on board, Ynet reported. The boat reportedly was rented out regularly as part of a sex-trade scheme in which passengers would pay several thousand dollars for one night on board.

Some commentators reportedly are saying that the scandal besmirches Ataturk’s name, which is a punishable offense.

Sasha Baron “Cohen” and Alexander Mashkevitch’s religion, rabbinic Judaism, sanctions child rape (see: Judaism Discovered pp. 422-436).

Also see:

Found: Ancient Capital of ‘Jewish’ Khazar Kingdom

Moldovan Orthodox Christians DID NOT Smash or Dump a Menorah

Ex-B’nai B’rith director awaits sentence in child porn crimes