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Israel’s Ministry of Justice threatens to ‘dismantle’ Scientology’s Tel Aviv Ideal Org

[The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Ideal Org at its 2012 opening]

We just became aware of some interesting reporting in September by Israeli journalist Nir Ben-Zvi which revealed that Israel’s Ministry of Justice has threatened to “dismantle” the Ideal Org in Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

We have a long association with the Jaffa org: Ten years ago we actually visited it before its opening, and reported on the bizarre problems that had plagued its renovation, which included arson attacks and a Scientology lawyer going to prison.

Since then, we have heard little from the org that Scientology leader David Miscavige claimed was going to have a huge impact on the entire Middle East.

But on September 21, Ben-Zvi reported that the Ministry of Justice had performed an audit that found alarming problems with the way the org was set up and how its officials might be moving money around.

After the audit, the Ministry sent out a warning earlier this year that the org faced “dissolution,” and Scientology agreed to a correction program which included paying for an accountant from the Ministry to oversee the changes, at the tune of $15,600.

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According to Ben-Zvi, when the Ideal Org was created in 2012 it named three directors, who were Scientology officials from Canada, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. But since then, the audit found that managing the org was being done by Israelis, some of them members of a separate non-profit association Ben-Zvi named as “Providing Life-Improving Services According to L. Ron Hubbard.”

We think this might be a reference to a Life Improvement Center, which is a standard component of a Scientology org.

Sunny Pereira, a former longtime Sea Org member, tells us that within Scientology this isn’t controversial at all, and she says under the Scientology “org board” structure, both the Ideal Org and the Life Improvement Center would share the same treasury. But in Israel, this was apparently a big problem.

The audit found it alarming that the two organizations shared members, and that money could be flowing from one to the other and even to their personal accounts. And because some people were members of both, the audit raised the suspicion that they might be receiving double pay.

How much money was going through the building? About $3 million in 2018 and $5.6 million in 2019, not small sums.

The money was coming from Scientology organizations in the US, as well as hundreds of substantial donations from Israeli citizens. “For example, in 2017 more than 100 people and various small businesses transferred donations between $6,200 and $47,000 each,” Ben-Zvi said.

And there was an unusual notation in 2019 that $3.4 million had come from “suppliers” who had decided to turn the debts they were owed into donations to the org. The Tel Aviv org claimed that these generous vendors were overseas, and their identities were not revealed.

According to Ben-Zvi, another problem the audit found were flights the org was paying for, about 20-30 annually, so officials could attend Ideal Org openings and other Scientology events around the world.

The article concedes that even if the Ministry were to “dismantle” the Ideal Org, Scientology could simply reorganize using different people, and wouldn’t lose possession of the Alhambra Cinema building, which it renovated and opened to great fanfare in 2012.

In November 2011 we visited the site and wrote for the Village Voice about what a troubled history the place already had, even before its grand opening. There were allegations of bribery, arson, and even an attempted murder attached to the renovation of the place, and a lawyer representing Scientology in the building’s sale went to prison, but later was released.

Since then, our impression was that Scientology’s Tel Aviv org was a typically empty facility. It would make sense that the work there is largely coming from its Life Improvement Center, which is the most basic, introductory activity like giving out personality tests.

Scientology gave a statement to Ben-Zvi, saying that the audit was two years old and that the Ideal Org had been cooperating to make the changes that the Ministry asked for.

We’d be surprised if the org was dismantled, but at the least the audit has given us a look inside a Scientology Ideal Org, and the picture is revealing.

 

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Sign up for a daily email when we post a new story on Scientology.

Did you know you can get an email every morning when we post our daily Scientology story? We know some of the folks who come to the Underground Bunker aren’t here to talk about the politics of the day, and that’s why we created a daily politics feature over at our other blog, The Lowdown, and we ask readers to take their political discussions over there. And if you drop us a line at tonyo94 AT gmail, we’ll put you on the list so you get a morning reminder that a new Scientology story has been posted — and only for our Scientology stories.

 
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Source Code

“The condemnation of science is long overdue and, what do you know, has already occurred on the European continent and has occurred even in a more advanced state in England. Today the word science is so bad that when I started calling what we’re doing Scientology I got in to a minor revolution. It wasn’t anything but the fact that the English people today believe that science has let them down but thoroughly. And anything with science connected with it is something they rather smile sarcastically about. It’s not that they’re interested in humanity. They just know science doesn’t work. And what do you know, they’re drawing right back out of science. They are not following scientific method worth a nickel.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 28, 1953

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“AOLA: It is reported very quiet there — still peaceful. People very polite. No hum. No body traffic. Way below confusion. My guess is when our CO Mission hits it will go up into total confusion, find a major stable datum, began to cool off, find the new CO and begin to be an org again. A Former CO of AOLA is flabbergasted at the number of 41 staff members to run an AO. AOs run on high volume with half that many. We are putting in a big stable datum. The terminal of a ‘backed up CO.’ The two orgs we’ve sent ‘backed up COs’ to are zooming! Here goes the third.” — The Commodore, October 28, 1969

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

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“The Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) is in accordance to the fundametals of LRH ethics tech. It handles PTSes and SPs and that is the main points of ethics in society or groups or the Sea Org and in composite cases. And remember, the Sea Org is not a Shan-gri-la paradise for diletantes.”

 
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Past is Prologue

1997: Martin Ottmann posted an article from Scientology’s Celebrity magazine, in which the Los Angeles Police Department praised Scientology. “In time of rising violence where police officers literally risk their lives on a daily basis, they deserve the support of groups who have the purpose and dedication to get youth on the right track – free from drugs and crime. The Church of Scientology is one group which, in respect and appreciation of Hollywood’s police officers, have constantly given their support. In recognition of this support, Celebrity Centre International was recognized by the California Police Activities League (PAL) as the ‘Organization of the Year for 1996’ for ‘their outstanding contribution to their community through the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Hollywood PAL.’ Officer William Sera, PAL Officer for the LAPD’s Hollywood Division, presented the award at the annual California Police Activities League dinner. Sera, addressing the more than 200 attendees at the event, read a letter from Captain Constance Dial, Area Commanding Officer of the Hollywood Community Police Station: ‘The donation of your personal time as well as the countless hundreds of hours volunteered by members of your staff has been invaluable assistance to our youth programs…This display of enthusiasm and dedication to the young people of the community reflects the positive influence the Celebrity Centre has had for the Hollywood area.'”

 
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Random Howdy

“Being an old school punk/junkie I wish I had a buck for every bad thing I’ve ever heard said, written or depicted about people of my ‘ilk.’ Never mind all the verbal and physical assaults me and my friends had to endure back in the day from the supposedly ‘normal’ people. It goes with the territory called ‘freak.’ Get use to it. Wear it as a badge of experience.”

 
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Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for November 10. Trial tentatively scheduled for February.

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Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference December 17 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for November 19.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30, 2020 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for November 2.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9, 2020 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28, 2022.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.

 
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THE PROSECUTION OF DANNY MASTERSON

We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

 
Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Scientology chiro pleaded guilty to fraud, but we may get to see a sort of trial anyway
[TWO years ago] Thetan-tastic: Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas skewer Scientology on ‘The Kominsky Method’
[THREE years ago] Scientology so desperate for Narconon patients, new offer drops all pretense of separation
[FOUR years ago] Ray Emmons, 1942-2017: Clearwater’s cop who sniffed out Scientology’s secrets
[FIVE years ago] Talking with Tiponi Grey, who quit her Scientology job and announced it on YouTube
[SIX years ago] Troublemakers: The women who won’t keep quiet about Scientology
[SEVEN years ago] Finally, Scientology has an answer for last year’s Super Bowl power outage
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology’s Trust Issues: A Possible Garcia Legal Strategy?
[NINE years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology Price Increase!
[TEN years ago] Mark Chauppetta, Private Eye Who Worked for Scientology at the time of the South Park Investigation

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,467 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,972 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,492 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,512 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,403 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,710 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,578 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,352 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,682 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,156 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,472 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,038 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,957 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,125 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,706 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,967 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,003 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,718 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,243 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 598 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,773 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,324 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,473 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,793 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,648 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,767 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,123 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,426 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,532 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,930 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,806 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,389 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,884 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,138 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,247 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on October 28, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast

 

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