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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met last month in New York with Hollywood producer Brett Ratner, a close associate and former partner of Australian billionaire James Packer, a key figure in Case 1000 in which Netanyahu is accused of receiving gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from businessmen, Walla has learned.
Hollywood producer Brett Ratner/AP
- Netanyahu even invited Ratner to be his personal guest in the gallery during his speech at the UN General Assembly, alongside other donors and associates who joined the UN visit. Ratner posted on his Instagram account a joint photo with Netanyahu and his wife and their associate, American lawyer Alan Dershowitz, taken after the speech.
- Ratner, an American Jew, was once one of the most famous and successful producers in the United States, but in recent years his career has been dealt a serious blow by the Hollywood MeToo Revolution, in which several women and actresses accused him of rape, assault and sexual harassment. In recent days, about a week after meeting with Netanyahu, Ratner arrived in Israel, and in an Instagram post even solemnly announced that he had made aliyah.
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Why is this important?
- The meeting between Netanyahu and Ratner reveals that the prime minister is associating with someone closest to James Packer – one of the main prosecution witnesses against him – while his trial is ongoing. It also points out that Netanyahu continues his habit of surrounding himself with foreign financiers, even though his connections with billions have led to the opening of investigations against him and the filing of indictments.
- Ratner is the former partner of James Packer, the Australian tycoon who became close to the Netanyahu family about a decade ago, through the acquaintance and mediation of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
- According to the indictment in Case 1000, in which the prime minister is accused of fraud and breach of trust, the two billionaires, Packer and Milchan, illegally provided him and his family with an open line of gifts, cigars, champagne, luxury jewelry, meals and favors worth hundreds of thousands of shekels.
- Packer was also very close to the prime minister's son, Yair Netanyahu. According to an investigation by HaMakor in 2016, Packer used to host him in his apartment in an apartment hotel in Tel Aviv, fly him on his private jet and pay for private vacations, during which he also stayed in luxury hotels in New York when he accompanied his father to his father's speeches at the UN General Assembly.
- As part of his close relationship with the family, Packer was also invited to significant speeches by Prime Minister Bencher, and he sat in the gallery of honor during a speech to Congress in 2015 and accompanied his entourage that year at the UN General Assembly, as Ratner was seen around Netanyahu last week.
Australian billionaire James Packer/ShutterStock
Meanwhile, this too happened:
- At the same time that Packer became close to the Netanyahu family, his business partnership with Ratner, a famous and successful producer and director, who created, among other things, the "Rush Hour" film trilogy and the series "Fugitives" began. Ratner already knew the Netanyahu family, and even posted a joint photo of himself hugging Yair Netanyahu and singer Mariah Carey, who was Packer's fiancée when she performed in Israel in August 2015.
- Packer and Ratner co-founded a joint production company in 2012, from which Packer broke off in recent years following a variety of entanglements, including Netanyahu's investigations in Israel. Ratner also got into trouble, and in 2017, as part of the resurgence of the MeToo movement, his marketing manager and six other well-known actresses who worked for him accused him of sexual assault and harassment.
- In 2019, Packer and Ratner became embroiled in another sexual scandal, this time together: British actress Charlotte Kirk claimed she was forced by three Hollywood super-producers, including Packer and Ratner, to have sex with the president of Warner Bros. without consent in order to close a deal for their co-production company for the film. All the men involved denied the allegations.
- Since Netanyahu's investigations began, Packer has not been to Israel in recent years. In 2017, he gave testimony in Australia to the police investigation in the gift case, which later became Case 1000, one of the three indictments currently being heard in the Jerusalem District Court. Last year, his housekeeper and driver testified on behalf of the prosecution, but he himself is not expected to testify at trial amid reports of poor health and mental health and his disappearance from the public eye.
- The women's allegations against Ratner led to the cancellation of his production company's hundreds of millions deal with Warner Bros., and since then, after nearly three decades of blockbusters, he has not directed a single film or produced a single one. His fortune is currently estimated at $85 million.
- In recent days, exactly a week after visiting New York with the Netanyahu family, Ratner arrived in Israel. He posted a photo on his Instagram story of an immigrant certificate from the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and documents from the National Insurance Institute, and added in Hebrew what is apparently his new name, Bert Shai Ratner.
Hollywood producer Brett Ratner's immigrant certificate/screenshot, from Brett Ratner's Instagram
What do they say?
- The Prime Minister's Office did not respond to a request for comment. Attempts to obtain Ratner's response were unsuccessful.
- More on the subject:
- Benjamin Netanyahu
- James Packer
- New York City