Talansky the man

A few pieces in the Israeli press this week provide an insider’s view of Morris Talansky.

Ehud Olmert’s lawyers screened a video in Jerusalem district court of Talansky talking about how Yitzhak Rabin, too, allegedly took money from American Jews.

“You think Rabin didn’t do it? I did it to Rabin!” Talansky says on the video, swearing “on my children!”

He also says Rabin was a wicked good tennis player – so good that Talansky wagered $100,000 on a game he and Rabin played against another team. Rabin and Talansky won, he says.

Meanwhile, Talanksy’s former nephew, Joseph Cedar – incidentally, the director of the Israeli film Beaufort – pens a defense of his ex-uncle in a Ha’aretz column in which he calls Talansky “one of the most interesting, charismatic and generous people I have ever met:”

When my former uncle’s name was raised in connection to the scandal involving the prime minister, I assumed the media would home in on his colorful personality. I never thought that the prime minister, through his representatives, would try to prove his innocence by cruelly and offensively slandering a man who spent years helping him and donating to him, and became his close friend.

I’m no expert on the nature of the financial relationship between Talansky and the prime minister, and I don’t pretend to understand the legal significance of their relationship, if any. But the various media reports about Talansky’s cross-examination make it difficult to avoid concluding that even if our prime minister is not a criminal, he is at least an ingrate.

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