In a recent turn of events, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been ordered by a court to return a valuable gift he received from American businessman and convicted fraudster Steven Hoffenberg. The gift, a gold-plated replica of the ancient biblical Ark of the Covenant, was given to Netanyahu by Hoffenberg in 1996 and is valued at $200,000. This story provides a fascinating look into the world of politics and diplomacy, as well as the potential for corruption at the highest levels of government. It also raises questions about the appropriate use of gifts and whether or not they should be returned when the donor is later convicted of a crime.
The gift in question
The gift in question is a replica of an ancient clay tablet, which was presented to Netanyahu by American businessman and philanthropist Steve Levy. The original tablet is housed in the British Museum and is one of the oldest-known examples of writing. The replica was made by Israeli artist Yossi Lemel and is inscribed with a message from Levy that reads: “To my good friend Benjamin Netanyahu, with appreciation for your leadership and friendship.” Netanyahu’s office said that the prime minister had not been aware of the value of the gift and that it would be returned to Levy.
Why Netanyahu has to return it
In 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was given a gold-plated replica of the Jewish ancient artifact, the Menorah, by American businessman and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson. The gift caused controversy at the time, with some critics accusing Netanyahu of accepting an illegal gratuity. Now, a new Israeli law has come into effect that requires public officials to return gifts worth over $530. Netanyahu will therefore have to return the Menorah to Adelson. The Israel news law is meant to increase transparency and prevent corruption in public office. It comes at a time when Netanyahu is already under investigation for several corruption allegations. Returning the Menorah may help Netanyahu appear more above board in these investigations. Critics of Netanyahu say that he should have returned the Menorah immediately after receiving it, instead of waiting for a law to force him to do so. They argue that this shows he is only interested in following the letter of the law, not its spirit.
How this affects Steve’s relationship with Israel
The recent news that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ordered by a court to return a valuable gift given to him by American businessman and philanthropist Steve Wynn has caused some tension in the relationship between the two men. Wynn is a strong supporter of Israel and has been critical of Netanyahu in the past, calling him “the worst thing that’s happened to Israel” during his time as prime minister. However, he has also donated millions of dollars to Israeli causes and was even given the honor of lighting a torch at the national Independence Day celebrations in 2013. The gift in question is a $2 million painting by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam that was given to Netanyahu by Wynn as a gift during a visit to Las Vegas in 2007. The painting was later sold by Netanyahu for $8 million, prompting an investigation into whether or not he had violated any laws by profiting from the sale.