Thursday, February 14, 2008


Sinatra reportedly helped run guns to Israel (JTA)
Frank Sinatra reportedly played a role in smuggling guns to Israel in 1948.

Brian Greenspun, a son of Hank Greenspun, the Las Vegas media and real estate magnate who helped lead the gun smuggling effort, related the account Wednesday night to a Washington fund-raising dinner for Israel's Rabin Center, an institute that promotes democracy and pluralism.

Greenspun, who said he heard the story from his father, later confirmed it with Teddy Kollek, the late Jerusalem mayor. According to the account, which Greenspun said he was making public for the first time, Kollek – who was in 1948 Israel's point man heading the arms smuggling effort in New York – got to know the singer while staying in Hotel 14, atop the old Copacabana nightclub where Sinatra headlined.

Kollek needed to pay the captain of a ship a cash bribe to smuggle the weapons out of New York harbor, but knew he was being watched by the FBI because the United States was party to an arms embargo of all parties to the conflict.

Kollek left the hotel on the appointed day carrying a satchel, and was followed by the agents; Sinatra left through another entrance with a paper bag containing the money and paid the captain.

Sinatra and Kollek remained friends and the singer contributed to a number of Jerusalem building projects at the mayor's behest.

Clinton: Israel's birth proved ok to ignore laws (JTA)
Bill Clinton said U.S. citizens who broke the law smuggling guns to the nascent Jewish state proved there are times when it's acceptable to break the law.

"Once in a while it's worth risking your neck to make sure nobody sinks just because the rules are rigged against them," the former U.S. president said Wednesday to raucous applause at a Washington dinner honoring Jimmy Hoffa, the legendary Teamsters leader who facilitated such smuggling.

U.S. authorities at the time banned the sales of guns to any parties to the conflict, placing the struggling Jewish state at a disadvantage over enemies that had standing armies.

The fund-raising dinner for the Yitzhak Rabin Center raised over $2 million and showered honors on the children of Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975, and the children of his associate in the arms-smuggling enterprise, Hank Greenspun, a Nevada real estate and newspaper magnate who died in 1989.

Clinton remembered Rabin as a leader who understood that Israel would not achieve security "unless a just and lasting peace could be achieved for the Palestinians and their children too."

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