The Long Island Rabbi Who Toppled Olmert

Close friend or just another donor, Talansky was key player in Israeli PM's downfall
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2008 5:33 PM CDT
Jewish-American businessman Morris Talansky was a key witness in a corruption case that helped drive Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from office.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Morris Talansky counted Ehud Olmet as a true friend, and he says his devotion was returned. The nature of the longstanding relationship between the Long Island rabbi and the Israeli prime minister varies according to who’s describing it, Steve Fishman writes in New York. But what everyone agrees on is that the way Talansky showed his devotion—"cash envelopes" adding up to $150,000—was key in driving Olmert out of office.

Talansky told Israeli police that the cash was for campaign contributions, loans, and friendly gifts. But the ensuing testimony has tarred Talansky's reputation and was of no help to the besieged Olmert, who plans to step down after elections set for Wednesday. Talansky blames the media. “I’m a victim in all this,” insists the man one paper called “Olmert’s ATM.” “Definitely.”