By Karl Radl
It was recently revealed by Globes – the prominent Israeli financial news site – that the French Tax Administration had set up a “secret department” to investigate Jews attempting to avoid paying tax in France by ‘investing’ in property in Israel. The Times of Israel describes the situation thus:
The report claims that the department was founded over the last year, has 20 Hebrew-speaking employees, and is in the process of hiring five more. Many are experts in the field of taxes and Israeli law. They pore over Israeli Land Registry contracts in an effort to find French Jews who purchased property in Israel without declaring these assets in France, according to the report…
In the case of Israel, Amolis is referring to a 2008 law that offers new immigrants and returning immigrants to Israel a ten-year exemption from taxes and any reporting requirement on their income abroad. Ostensibly a law to encourage Aliyah, or immigration to Israel, critics claim it signaled to would-be tax evaders and criminals that Israel is a good place to launder their money.
‘The idea was to encourage Aliyah to Israel of wealthy people by turning Israel into a tax haven,’ Bar-Ilan University economist Avichai Snir told The Times of Israel in February. ‘The new law definitely gave a nudge and a wink to people who had dirty money and wanted to launder it.’
According to the Globes article, the new department in the French Tax Administration has begun looking at Land Registry documents from Israeli cities like Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ra’anana, Netanya, and Jerusalem where French people tend to purchase property. Investigators then look for foreign passport details on a property deal…
According to the Globes article, the French tax authority frequently contacts its Israeli counterpart for information about French citizens living in Israel but the Israeli Tax Authority frequently rejects these requests…
In the course of its reporting on binary options fraud, The Times of Israel learned that a group of several hundred serial fraudsters from France have made Israel their home and use Israel as a base to carry out Internet fraud, from carbon-VAT fraud, to CEO fraud, to forex and binary options, diamond investment fraud, and more recently, cryptocurrency fraud.
These professional con artists advertise intensively to young French-speaking immigrants who work for them as a job of last resort or a way to earn more than they could doing legitimate work. Israel has been lax in cracking down on these call centers, despite the fact the Paris prosecutor said last year that French citizens had lost 4.5 billion euros to such fraudsters, many operating from Israel, since 2010. (1)
To summarize: The French Tax Administration hired twenty tax investigators who were fluent in modern Hebrew in 2016 and tried to hire five more in 2017. They took these actions because Jews in France have decided to try to avoid paying taxes in France by moving their money to Israel, where the French authorities have little to no oversight, as well as a significant language barrier. These tax-avoiding Jews were incentivized by a 2008 Israeli law that allows them to make “financial Aliyah” but still reside in the diaspora.
The Israeli authorities, however, have largely refused to cooperate with their French counterparts. Instead, the Israelis are complaining about “French anti-Semitism” despite the fact that, as the Times of Israel notes, hundreds of Jewish fraudsters from France are now using Israel as their base to commit a breathtakingly wide range of white-collar crimes primarily targeting the Francophone world.
One would think that the Israeli government would step up to the plate to assist the French government in shutting down these criminals, but it isn’t interested in doing so. Instead, they are claiming, along with the Israeli media and the media of the Jewish diaspora, that this is part of an “anti-Semitic plot” that is “targeting the Jews” and is “reminiscent of the policies of the Third Reich”. (2) Such claims are entirely unfounded, as the French Tax Administration is simply taking action to make sure that a specific segment of the population of France – the country’s Jewish community – doesn’t try to avoid paying the taxes it owes and thus force the rest of the country (i.e. the French people) to make up the deficit in the exchequer.
The reasons that the Israeli government is so desperate to keep the money flowing into the Israeli economy- by any means possible- and to overlook manifest criminality in doing so are three fold:
First is the fact that those committing the crimes are Jews and are thus privileged in Israel’s eyes. Under Israeli Law of Return nearly every single Jew – practicing or otherwise – is automatically a citizen of Israel, thus obligating Israel to protect the interests of its “citizens” from any foreign authority.
Secondly, the Israeli economy, quite frankly, needs the investment. Despite the frequent and loud claims to the contrary, it is facing large structural problems and an ever-increasing welfare burden caused largely by the quickly expanding (largely unproductive) ultra-Orthodox Jewish population. (3)
Thirdly, the Israeli government and its business culture – in particular the construction and property markets – (4) are extremely corrupt. This is borne out by the Holyland Apartments Affair, which caused Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign from office in 2009 and to be jailed in 2015. (5) The recent fall of governing political coalition chairman David Bitan following charges of corruption relating to the Israeli property market is another example. (6) Further, current Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri is heavily suspected of engaging in a separate, but similar, spate of corrupt property-related deals and taking bribes. (7)
We must therefore conclude that the French Tax Administration was simply being diligent about tracking down tax evaders, who are particularly prevalent in the Jewish diaspora in France. Meanwhile, the Israeli government is aiding and abetting Jewish white-collar criminals targeting the Francophone world. The Israeli authorities are likely taking financial kickbacks from these criminals to protect them from the French authorities “for the good of the Jewish people” while simultaneously complaining voluminously about “anti-Semitism.”
(1) https://www.timesofisrael.com/french-tax-administration-has-secret-department-devoted-to-Jews-report/ ; also see http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/France-sets-up-tax-dept-to-investigate-Jews-521379
(2) https://www.timesofisrael.com/french-tax-administration-has-secret-department-devoted-to-Jews-report/ ; http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/France-sets-up-tax-dept-to-investigate-Jews-521379 ; https://forward.com/fast-forward/391178/france-denies-it-has-secret-tax-department-investigating-Jews/
(3) For example: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/.premium-1.612431 ; https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21722037-dazzling-high-tech-firms-divert-attention-serious-productivity-problem-israels ; https://www.rt.com/business/390047-israel-economy-threat-research/ ; http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Israels-economy-Reasons-to-be-cheerful-and-some-for-concern-452550 ; https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4760148,00.html
(4) See for example: https://www.timesofisrael.com/a-deeper-political-agenda-behind-israels-soaring-housing-market/ ; https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4760148,00.html