Scientology in Israel: All Holy Hell Breaking Loose?
Benicio saw this one coming
Things have been a little quiet stateside for Scientology watchers (where's that next part of the Leiby saga, Marty?), but over in Israel, all hell has broken loose.
For the last couple of weeks, we've been writing about what happens in the U.S. if Scientology considers you an enemy: you get surveilled, your trash is sifted for clues about you, and "eyes only" documents record your every move.
In Israel, apparently, you just get blown to Kingdom Come.
Over the last few days, Israeli news organizations like Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post have been laying out the bizarre details involving a man named Gur Finkelstein, who has been working as an attorney for Scientology in Tel Aviv.
This is from Sunday's Haaretz:
Attorney Gur Finkelstein, who represents the Scientology Center in Israel, was detained several weeks ago for allegedly hiring [a] gang to supply him with weapons and assist him in his own endeavors...A string of high-profile crimes have been attributed to Finkelstein, include attempts to burn down the Scientology Center, and also the assault and plot to assassinate the director of Tel Aviv's planning and construction department, Shoteh Hovel.
Scientology's lawyer hiring thugs to burn down Scientology's own Tel Aviv center? Say what?
Well, apparently, Scientology expanded the center, but ran into problems with Shoteh Hovel, who planned then to demolish either the expansion or the center itself (that part isn't clear from what we read). What is clear is that Finkelstein didn't appreciate Hovel's meddling. From yesterday's Jerusalem Post:
Finkelstein allegedly had a financial interest in preventing the building from being demolished, and was behind the May 9 attempt to detonate a car bomb under Hovel's car in Bat Yam. Hovel escaped from the incident unharmed, but the vehicle was damaged. In a subsequent assassination attempt, three men dressed as police officers stopped Hovel in his car and tried to attack him with an electric shocker. That attack failed, too, and the attackers fled. Hovel was lightly wounded. Finkelstein eventually concluded that it would be most profitable for him to arrange for the building to be rebuilt elsewhere, police suspect, as he received a commission from contractors behind the construction. He therefore repeatedly ordered the Jaffa suspects to damage the building, police allege. In one attempt, a truck carrying 300 liters of fuel and a gas canister was allegedly used in a failed bid to bomb the building. In a second attempt, a suspect allegedly entered the building, poured gasoline inside, and set fire to the place. That arson attempt failed. The suspects had allegedly planned for that attack to be blamed on Jewish religious organizations that are opposed to the presence of Scientology in Israel.
HOLY XENU'S GHOST! Imagine how much more effective David Miscavige's OSA covert operations crew would be in the U.S. if it just had the balls of this Finkelstein dude!
I mean, he runs into some pushback from a government official regarding some Scientology past-lives-palace, so he hires some thugs to blow the guy up, electro-shock him, bomb the building, set fire to it, and then make it all look like some OTHER wacky right-wing religious group was behind it all!
Somebody get a treatment on this to Harvey Weinstein RIGHT NOW.
Naturally, Scientology has fallen back on its favorite Operation-Snow-White-era strategy, saying that Finkelstein might have worked for them but wasn't a Scientologist and was operating on his own, etc. These lone wolves are such a problem for Scientology, it seems.
email@example.com | @VoiceTonyO
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard's organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It The Marc Headley Escape -- 'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle' The Aaron Saxton Accusation -- Australia turns up the heat on Scientology The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation -- Scientology's former PR genius comes clean The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross -- Scientology lures a young defector into a trap A Church Myth Debunked -- Scientology and Proposition 8 Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back -- Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits When Scientologists Attack -- The Marty Rathbun Intimidation A Scientologist Excommunicated -- The Michael Fairman SP Declaration The Richard Leiby Operation -- Investigating a reporter's divorce to shut him up
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in New York, delivered to your inbox.