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Category Archives: international politics

 

From Wall Street Journal

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704657304575539872944767984.html

Imagine if a leader within the tea party movement were able to persuade its members to establish a third political party. Imagine he succeeded—overwhelmingly—and that as their leader he stood a real chance of winning the presidency. Then imagine that in anticipation of his electoral victory, the Democrats and Republicans quickly modified an existing antidiscrimination law so that he could be convicted for statements he made on the campaign trail.

All of this seems impossible in a 21st-century liberal democracy. But it is exactly what is happening in Holland to Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.

Mr. Wilders came onto the political scene in September 2004 when he broke from the Liberal Party to found the Freedom Party. He did this partly as a response to Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, and also in reaction to the rise of political Islam in the Netherlands.

No one has ever accused Mr. Wilders of being diplomatic. He’s famously compared the Quran to “Mein Kampf” and described it as a “fascist book,” he’s called Muhammad “the devil,” and he’s proposed policies—such as banning the construction of mosques and taxing women who wear the burqa—to halt further Islamification.

A

t first, Mr. Wilders was dismissed as a far right-wing extremist. But since splitting from the Liberal Party six years ago, his star has only risen. In the national elections held in November 2006, his party won nine seats in parliament. When the Dutch government fell again this year, June elections saw his party take 24 seats in the 150-seat body.

This has spooked Dutch parliamentarians, particularly those wedded to multiculturalism. That’s why, in the fall of 2009, they modified Article 137C and 137D of the Penal Code to make it possible for far-left organizations to take Mr. Wilders to court on grounds of “inciting hatred” against Muslims.

Article 137C of the penal code now states that anyone “who publicly, verbally or in writing or image, deliberately expresses himself in anyway insulting of a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief . . . will be punished with a prison sentence of at the most one year or a fine of third category.” It continues: “If the offense is committed by a person who makes it his profession or habit, or by two or more people in association, a prison sentence of at the most two years or a fine of fourth category will be imposed.”

And so since Oct. 4, Mr. Wilders has filed into court to defend himself in this blasphemy trial. If he loses—and the chances are high, given that the presiding judges haven’t been subtle about their bias against him—he will face fines or time in jail. (When Mr. Wilders said he would not speak at the trial, Judge Jan Moors accused him of being “good at making statements, but then avoiding the discussion” they provoke.)

How is it possible that a mature European liberal democracy is prosecuting an elected member of parliament for his political opinions on the most pressing issue of the day—namely, Islamic fundamentalism? There are three main reasons.

First, there is the matter of traditional politicians’ discomfort with Mr. Wilders. Historically, the Netherlands has insisted on the idea of “consensus.” Though on paper this means compromise, in practice it has meant conformity of thought and a refusal to rock the boat on controversial issues.

No issue has tested this comfortable consensus more than the ascent of Islam, first presented by immigrants from Morocco and Turkey in the 1960s and 1970s, and then by asylum-seekers and refugees from various Muslim countries beginning in the 1990s. Most elites responded by preaching “tolerance.” Give Muslim immigrants benefits and wait until they voluntarily integrate, their argument goes. Even if that process would take generations—even when it became apparent that some Muslims practiced female genital mutilation and honor killings, and imams openly urged their congregations to reject Dutch culture and law—citizens were not to criticize Islam.

A growing segment of the population—including Mr. Wilders and me, when I was a member of parliament from 2003 to 2006—doubted this facile and dangerous idea of “tolerance.” This upset politicians, professors, journalists and other opinion-makers who tried to make us untouchables.

There were exceptions: Brave people in media, business and even in the military supported me politically, often behind the scenes. Still, I eventually left the country due to a combination of frustration with the campaign of ostracism and the extreme threats I faced from Islamists who wanted to kill me. Mr. Wilders, however, endured.

The second reason Mr. Wilders is on trial is the electoral power of Muslims in the Netherlands’ four major cities. During local elections in March 2006, Muslim immigrants for the first time acted as an unofficial power bloc that could make or break a major Dutch party.

The supposed victims of Dutch discrimination were now a force to reckon with. Thus, major parties including Labor and the Christian Democrats—dominant since World War II—now support policies like increased immigration from Muslim countries and welfare benefits for Muslim voters. And they turn a blind eye to the implementation of informal Shariah law, particularly concerning the treatment of women.

Third, there are the efforts of countries in the Organization of the Islamic Conference to silence the European debate about Islam. One strategy used by the 57 OIC countries is to treat Muslim immigrants to Europe as satellite communities by establishing Muslim cultural organizations, mosques and Islamic centers, and by insisting on dual citizenship. Their other strategy is to pressure international organizations and the European Union to adopt resolutions to punish anyone who engages in “hate speech” against religion. The bill used to prosecute Mr. Wilders is the national version of what OIC diplomats peddle at the U.N. and EU.

The implications of this trial are enormous. In the short term, it could bring the simmering tensions between Holland’s approximately one million Muslims and the 1.4 million voters who elected Mr. Wilders to a boil. The Netherlands has seen its share of Islamist violence before and could well see violent confrontations again.

On a more fundamental level, this trial—even if Mr. Wilders wins—could silence the brave critics of radical Islam. The West is in a war of ideas against political Islam. If free speech is not protected in Europe, we’re already losing.

Ms. Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of “Nomad: From Islam to America—A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations” (Free Press, 2010).

 

From Reason Mag

http://reason.com/blog/2009/01/30/limiting-free-speech-in-hollan

Limiting Free Speech in Holland

| January 30, 2009

A muddled piece from Ian Buruma in today’s The New York Times, arguing, as far as I can make out, that anti-Islam Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, recently charged with incitement after comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf, should not be defended because he is a boorish racist who doesn’t himself believe in free speech. And while Buruma, a Dutch citizen, rightfully criticizes the hypocrisies of Wilders (as I did here and here), he spends little time debating the morality and efficacy of the statutes under which he is being charged. As Buruma points out, Dutch law forbids speech that “deliberately insults people on the grounds of their race, religion, beliefs or sexual orientation.” (The race, religion, and sexual orientation stuff is pretty standard in European hate crime law, but I was unaware that in the Netherlands it’s apparently against the law to “insult” someone’s “beliefs.”)

Comparing a book that billions hold sacred to Hitler’s murderous tract is more than an exercise in literary criticism; it suggests that those who believe in the Koran are like Nazis, and an all-out war against them would be justified. This kind of thinking, presumably, is what the Dutch law court is seeking to check.

One of the misconceptions that muddle the West’s debate over Islam and free speech is the idea that people should be totally free to insult. Free speech is never that absolute. Even – or perhaps especially – in America, where citizens are protected by the First Amendment, there are certain words and opinions that no civilized person would utter, and others that open the speaker to civil charges.

This does not mean that religious beliefs should be above criticism. And sometimes criticism will be taken as an insult where none is intended. In that case the critic should get the benefit of the doubt. Likening the Koran to “Mein Kampf” would not seem to fall into that category.

If Mr. Wilders were to confine his remarks to those Muslims who do harm freedom of speech by using violence against critics and apostates, he would have a valid point.

So it is a “misconception” that “people should be totally free to insult?” Well why not, in a few brief sentences, explain just how a democratic country should establish limits on free expression? But instead, Buruma ends his piece with a typically mealy-mouthed declaration that he’s “not so sure” that the charges against Wilders strike a blow for democracy, though he is clearly less concerned with the European compulsion to prosecute thought criminals than he is with the potential elevation of Wilders to martyr status.

Buruma, who last year called Ayaan Hirsi Ali an “enlightenment fundamentalist,” wants us to know that he believes in freedom, largely disagrees with the prosecution of Wilders (though he doesn’t register any objection to the Dutch hate crimes law), and thinks that the “boundaries” to free expression are trespassed when a minority group is judged to have been offended. In other words, it’s unclear just what he believes (other than his reading of Wilders as an Islamophobic troglodyte).

If Buruma agrees with Dutch ideas of free speech “boundaries,” he should come out and say it. Instead, he offers a robust denunciation of Wilders’ reductive view of Islam (how brave!) and entirely avoids the question that matters: Where does a democratic country get off dragging controversial politicians before the court?

Bonus quote: Gerard Spong, the lawyer who filed the charges, said that managing to successfully instigate court proceedings against Wilders is his “finest hour.” “The American President Barack Obama said ‘we are free in diversity’ but you can’t have diversity if you brand one group as extremists,” he told reporters.

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Military wants doctors to “use their position of trust in society” To Promote Global Warming Theories

Military and medical experts call on doctors to use their position of trust in society to build support for action on climate change

From

http://www.blacklistednews.com/?news_id=13406

And The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/05/doctors-climate-change-leadership

“Doctors must take a leading role in highlighting the dangers of climate change, which will lead to conflict, disease and ill-health, and threatens global security, according to a stark warning from an unusual alliance of physicians and military leaders. Writing in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday, a group of military and medical experts, including two rear admirals and two professors of health, sent out an urgent message to governments around the world. “Climate change poses an immediate and grave threat, driving ill-health and increasing the risk of conflict, such that each feeds upon the other,” said the authors, Lionel Jarvis, surgeon rear admiral at the UK’s Ministry of Defence; Hugh Montgomery, professor of human health at UCL, London; Neil Morisetti, rear admiral and climate and security envoy for the UK; and Ian Gilmore, professor at the Royal Liverpool hospital. “Like all good medicine, prevention is the key.” The threat to national security and health from global warming have been addressed separately in the past, but the BMJ editorial urges governments to treat them together. “It might be considered unusual for the medical and military professions to concur,” wrote the authors. “But on this subject we do.” The authors urge doctors to use their position of trust in society to build support for action on climate change. “Although discussion is good, we can no longer delay implementing tough action that will make a difference, while quibbling over minor uncertainties in climate modelling. Unlike most recent natural disasters, this one is entirely predictable,” they warned. “Doctors, often seen as authoritative, trusted, and independent by their communities, must make their voices heard in calling for such action.”

Global Warming is BullDokey

I cannot confirm of deny the statements made by these gentlmen.

But there are VERY interesting.

January 20, 2011 by Kristen Deadlinelive.

http://deadlinelive.info/2011/01/20/fraud-corruption-cia-nazis-eu-illuminati-whistleblowers-sudden-death/

North Korea is a Prison’ – Barbara Demick – LA Times

from Amazon
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A fascinating and deeply personal look at the lives of six defectors from the repressive totalitarian regime of the Republic of North Korea, in which Demick, an L.A. Times staffer and former Seoul bureau chief, draws out details of daily life that would not otherwise be known to Western eyes because of the near-complete media censorship north of the arbitrary border drawn after Japan’s surrender ending WWII. As she reveals, ordinary life in North Korea by the 1990s became a parade of horrors, where famine killed millions, manufacturing and trade virtually ceased, salaries went unpaid, medical care failed, and people became accustomed to stepping over dead bodies lying in the streets. Her terrifying depiction of North Korea from the night sky, where the entire area is blacked out from failure of the electrical grid, contrasts vividly with the propaganda on the ground below urging the country’s worker-citizens to believe that they are the envy of the world. Thorough interviews recall the tremendous difficulty of daily life under the regime, as these six characters reveal the emotional and cultural turmoil that finally caused each to make the dangerous choice to leave. As Demick weaves their stories together with the hidden history of the country’s descent into chaos, she skillfully re-creates these captivating and moving personal journeys. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In spite of the strict restrictions on foreign press, award-winning journalist Demick caught telling glimpses of just how surreal and mournful life is in North Korea. Her chilling impressions of a dreary, muffled, and depleted land are juxtaposed with a uniquely to-the-point history of how North Korea became an industrialized Communist nation supported by the Soviet Union and China and ruled by Kim Il Sung, then collapsed catastrophically into poverty, darkness, and starvation under the dictator’s son, Kim Jong Il. Demick’s bracing chronicle of the horrific consequences of decades of brutality provide the context for the wrenching life stories of North Korean defectors who confided in Demick. Mi-ran explains that even though her “tainted blood” (her father was a South Korean POW) kept her apart from the man she loved, she managed to become a teacher, only to watch her starving students waste away. Dr. Kim Ki-eum could do nothing to help her dying patients. Mrs. Song, a model citizen, was finally forced to face cruel facts. Strongly written and gracefully structured, Demick’s potent blend of personal narratives and piercing journalism vividly and evocatively portrays courageous individuals and a tyrannized state within a saga of unfathomable suffering punctuated by faint glimmers of hope. –Donna Seaman –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Clip From the Film Anthrax War

Following leads on the anthrax trail took us across four continents – filming outside the high security perimeter fences of some of the world’s most secret germ war labs (and inside a couple), tracking down and talking to experts and scientists some of whom were members of the so called “International Bio-Weapons Mafia”. None was more chilling than the face to face we got with the man they call Doctor Death – Wouter Basson, the army scientist who headed apartheid South Africa’s secret germ war program – Project Coast.

Shrouded in mystery and hidden behind front companies that used worldwide intelligence connections, the shocking activities of the program only emerged after the fall of apartheid – revealing a shockingly sophisticated operation that had 200 scientists developing germ war agents to be used against the country’s black population.

This was one of the very few interviews Doctor Death has given and for the first time he talks candidly about the help the received from the West, his relationship with David Kelly and the creation of “the Black Bomb” an agent that could sterilize blacks without their knowledge.

And then there’s his strange relationship with Larry Ford, the Mormon gynecologist to Hollywood stars who was also moonlighting for the South Africans and had CIA connections.

Some experts are wondering whether Doctor Deaths’s program provided a convenient off-shore operation for Western germ war experimentation?

Israel Discovers Giant Gas Field Off Haifa Coast
by grtv

Israel has announced the discovery of a massive natural gas field off its northern coast, worth tens of billions of dollars.

The company behind the exploration of the “Leviathan 1” field says it is the world’s biggest gas discovery in decades.

It could free Israel from relying on foreign energy sources and could also affect the politics of the region.

Anand Naidoo reports.

Originally Aired December 31, 2010.

http://tv.globalresearch.ca/2010/12/israel-discovers-giant-gas-field-haifa-coast

————————————————————–

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22568

Editor’s Note

We bring to the attention of our readers a article in the WSJ focussing on Israel’s offshore gas reserves. What is not mentioned in the article is the issue of ownership of these Israeli and Palestinian ownership of these reserves.

In this regard, the military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces in late 2008 bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves. A large segment of these gas reserves lie off the coast of Gaza. The Gazanb reserves are contiguous of those of Israel. (See Michel Chossudovsky, War and Natural Gas, The Israeli Invasion of Gaza,   http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11680, January 2009)

The military occupation of Gaza was intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.

As suggested by Illan Pappe, Tel Aviv is now considering launching another military operation directed against Gaza. (See The Drums of War Are Heard Again In Israel , December 30, 2010).

The hidden agenda is the outright confiscation of Palestinian gas fields (see maps below) and the unilateral declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza’s maritime areas. This would be implemented through the integration of Gaza’s contiguous gas reserves with those of Israel. The militarization of the entire Gaza coastline, which is strategic for Israel, is contemplated.


Map 1

Michel Chossudovsky, December 30, 2010


TEL AVIV—Two years ago, Ratio Oil Exploration LP, an energy firm here, employed five people and was worth about half a million dollars.

[ISRAGAS]

Noble Energy
Operations in Noble Energy’s Leviathan gas field, the world’s biggest deepwater gas find in a decade. 

Today it sits at the center of a gas bonanza that has investors, international oil companies, Israeli politicians and even Hezbollah, Israel’s sworn enemy, clamoring for a piece of the action.

Ratio’s market capitalization now approaches $1 billion. The rally at Ratio is thanks to the company’s 15% stake in a giant offshore gas field called Leviathan, operated by Houston-based Noble Energy Inc.

On Wednesday, the frenzy got fresh fuel: Noble confirmed its earlier estimates that the field contains 16 trillion cubic feet of gas—making it the world’s biggest deepwater gas find in a decade, with enough reserves to supply Israel’s gas needs for 100 years.

It’s still early days, and getting all that gas out of the seabed may be more difficult than it seems today. But Noble and its partners think the field could hold enough gas to transform Israel, a country precariously dependent on others for energy, into a net-energy exporter.

Such a transformation could potentially alter the geopolitical balance of the Mideast, giving Israel a new economic advantage over its enemies.

Even before Wednesday’s announcement confirming the size of Leviathan, the big field was causing a ruckus in Israel and the region.

Leviathan, named after the Biblical sea monster, and two smaller gas fields nearby have kicked up a broad speculative craze.

The energy index of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange rose 1,700% in the past year. In recent months, energy stocks accounted for about a quarter of trading activity on the exchange, once mostly the domain of real-estate companies.

It’s also shaken regional relations. Lebanese politicians are trying to lure companies to explore their nearby waters, while the two countries—still technically at war—have threatened each other over offshore resources.

A minor diplomatic furor has erupted between Israel and the U.S., which is lobbying hard against Israel’s plans to raise taxes on energy companies, including Noble.

Leviathan sits some 84 miles off Israel’s northern coast and more than three miles beneath the Mediterranean’s seabed. Noble began drilling its first exploratory well in the field in October.

Even before Leviathan, a series of finds had put the so-called Levant Basin, stretching offshore in the Mediterranean, on the international energy map.

In March, the U.S. Geological Survey released its first assessment of the zone, estimating it contained 1.7 billion barrels of oil and 122 trillion cubic feet of gas. That’s equal to half the proven gas reserves of the U.S.

The finds also exposed a grittier underside to Israel’s financial sector. A string of criminal investigations launched by Israeli authorities into share-price movements and company disclosures have dogged some of the bonanza’s highest flyers.

And a long-running shareholder fight at Ratio spilled into the public this fall, featuring a cameo appearance by a man wanted by U.S. authorities on racketeering and conspiracy charges.

Israel’s recent discovery of offshore gas fields has Lebanon, its northern neighbor, looking to do the same to help feed its growing electricity demands. WSJ’s Don Duncan reports from Lebanon.

Except for the occasional small oil and gas find in its early years, Israel has searched in vain for energy. Big Oil shied away, worried about antagonizing Arab and Iranian partners.

A hardy group of Israeli explorers kept at it anyway. Ratio was one of them. In the early 1990s, Ratio’s chief executive, Yigal Landau, from a family of infrastructure magnates, and Ligad Rotlevy, whose family textile business goes back 80 years, formed the company to search for oil onshore.

By then, companies were also venturing offshore. In 1998, another Israeli energy firm, Delek Group Ltd., persuaded Noble, one of the first independents to operate offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, to start looking in Israel’s slice of the Mediterranean.

Noble drilled its first Israeli well in 1999, and quickly scored two modest finds. Financial firms and local businessmen with little energy experience began snapping up offshore leases from the government.

Thanks to a 1952 petroleum law still on the books, Israel offered some of the world’s best perks to energy companies, including low royalties and corporate taxes on exploration.

Ratio tried to buy into the offshore projects that Noble and Delek were pursuing, but was rebuffed. Instead, in 2007, Messrs. Landau and Rotlevy put up $40 million and took a gamble on the rights to an offshore license neighboring the Noble and Delek fields. It would eventually become the Leviathan field.

Armed with promising seismic data, the pair then convinced Noble and Delek to buy into their lease. They sold a 45% stake to Delek and a 40% stake to Noble.

In January 2009, Noble made a landmark discovery. The Tamar field contained premium quality gas—almost pure methane. Noble had expected to find three trillion cubic feet at the most. The reservoir ended up containing nearly three times that. Two months later, the company found a second, smaller deposit of gas at the nearby Dalit field.

Then, last summer, Noble dropped a bomb shell. The Leviathan field appeared to be a supergiant, according to three-dimensional seismic studies, with almost twice the gas reserves of Tamar.

Ratio’s shares soared, and so did those of other energy firms in Tel Aviv. The rally set off alarm bells among regulators.

“We saw new players, and these skeleton entities that had nothing to do with oil, had no experience or know-how, buying and trading leases, making baseless claims,” said Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Uzi Landau. “We decided we had to stop this crazy atmosphere engulfing the market.” He wouldn’t discuss specific companies.

Officials at the Israeli Securities Authority declined to comment on specific cases, but said they were concerned about an ongoing pattern in which small energy companies publish vague or misleading reports that cause their share prices to skyrocket, and often to plummet later.

In September, the ISA raided the offices of two energy-exploration firms related to probes into trading irregularities.

In the case of EZ Energy, regulators stormed its offices Sept. 20, seizing computers and files after its stock shot up 150% in a single session. The ISA says EZ Energy is being investigated for criminal wrongdoing, but hasn’t been specific.

EZ Energy declined to comment. The company has disclosed it held a private meeting with Ratio to discuss buying a small share of another, unstudied offshore gas license. Ratio said the company has stopped taking meetings with other energy firms. Ratio isn’t accused of any wrongdoing in connection with EZ.

Amid the stock-market frenzy, the Israeli government started considering changing its 1950s-era energy royalties and tax regime, to boost the government’s take of any gas find.

Earlier this year, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said he was considering changing terms retroactively—meaning the government could extract better terms on previously assigned leases. Noble and Israeli oil executives went on the offensive.

A retroactive change would be “egregious” and “would quickly move Israel to the lowest tier of countries for investment by the energy industry,” Noble’s chief executive, Chuck Davidson, wrote Mr. Steinitz in April.

The company enlisted high-level negotiators, including the U.S. State Department and former President Bill Clinton, to lobby against any change.

Mr. Clinton raised the issue in a private meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York in July, according to a Clinton aide. “Your country can’t just tax a U.S. business retroactively because they feel like it,” the aide said Mr. Clinton told Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Netanyahu was noncommittal, the aide said. A spokesman for Mr. Netanyahu declined to comment on the meeting.

Finance Minister Steinitz has so far ignored the pressure. Last month, he said a government-appointed committee had made preliminary recommendations to abolish tax breaks for energy firms and impose steep tax increases of 20% to 60% on windfall profits. Any tax changes are subject to approval by Israel’s cabinet.

“Israel is sovereign to make its own decision and change its tax regime,” Mr. Steinitz said in an interview.

Shares in energy companies plummeted on news of the tax increases. Delek Energy said it would have to reevaluate the Tamar field. “This really threatens our ability to deliver the project on schedule,” said Gidon Tadmor, the CEO. Funding for development of the gas field is now on hold, he said, due to banks’ concerns about the new tax regime.

Despite these problems, Israel’s gas find is making waves abroad. Lebanon has staked out its own claim to offshore gas. In August, lawmakers in Beirut rushed the country’s first oil-exploration law through its normally snarled parliament.

Lebanon’s oil minister, Gebran Bassil, an ally of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, said in late October that his ministry hopes to start auctioning off exploration rights by 2012.

Iran, Israel’s arch-nemesis and Hezbollah’s chief backer, has also weighed in. Tehran’s ambassador to Lebanon, Qazanfar Roknabadi, last month claimed that three-quarters of the Leviathan field actually belongs to Lebanon.

Mr. Landau, the Israeli infrastructure minister, denied the claim and warned Lebanon that Israel wouldn’t hesitate to use force to protect its mineral rights.

Meanwhile, the poster child of the boom, Ratio, has seen its star fade after authorities launched a criminal probe of the company’s relationship with an Israeli wanted by the U.S. on racketeering and conspiracy charges.

The Israeli investigation is ongoing and charges haven’t been filed.

A disgruntled investor, Shlomi Shukrun, has publicly accused Ratio’s founders, Messrs. Landau and Rotlevy, of recruiting Meir Abergil to pressure Mr. Shukrun out of his shares and money he says they owed him.

Mr. Abergil, along with his brother, currently sits in an Israeli prison awaiting extradition to the U.S. to face a 32-count federal indictment. He declined a request to comment for this article.

Ratio officials, meanwhile, say Mr. Shukrun hired people with links to a Georgian crime syndicate to threaten Ratio’s Mr. Landau and his family into making up Mr. Shukrun’s losses. Mr. Shurkrun’s lawyer said his client did send people to collect money from Mr. Landau, but he denied making any threats and denied any connection between his client and Georgian organized crime.

Instead of turning to the courts, the two sides say they turned to Mr. Abergil to help broker a solution. When Ratio’s share price started its steep ascent, the dispute over a few hundred thousand dollars became a dispute over a few hundred million dollars.

The case is based on a quarrel that began in 2005. It only came to light in September, when Mr. Shukrun went public with his version of the story, and tapes and transcripts of the private arbitration hearings were leaked to the press.

Mr. Landau, Ratio’s CEO, says that after Mr. Shukrun threatened him, he turned to a private security company, run by the brother of a convicted (and now deceased) Israeli crime boss. That firm, in turn, brought in Mr. Abergil, Mr. Landau has said. The brother couldn’t be reached for comment.

“The smell of gas in Israel has driven people crazy,” he says.