Of course it figures that any time a story on Israeli organized crime comes up, my family name (Abutbul in Hebrew) figures in there somewhere. OK, so the Netanya branch of our extremely distant family is a bit of an embarrassment, but the good news is that no one at the shuk fucks with me – and that’s even though Asi Abutbul was sentenced this month to 13 years in prison, convicted of activities related to his status as the ringleader of a criminal organization. Asi was the first prominent mobster convicted by an Israeli court under the Organized Crime Law.
In any case, fellow Canuck Douglas Century, wrote a five part series on the state of organized crime in Israel for Tablet Magazine:
As the economic opportunities contractâ€”this year, according to Israel’s Central Bank, marked the country’s worst recession in its 61-year historyâ€”and as more and more of the market in this formerly socialist country is privatized, Israel’s underworld, once a dangerous if quaint West Side Story-like demimonde governed by its own code of honor, has rapidly morphed into a hellish landscape, similar to the blood-soaked world of the Camorra and Sicilian Mafia as rendered in the book Excellent Cadavers and the film Gomorra.
You can read part I here, part II here, part III here, part IV here and part V when it gets published later today or tomorrow. And don’t miss the photo essay where Century and photographer Antonin Kratochvil show you photos of the Tel Aviv underworld you’ll never, ever see in Time Out: Tel Aviv!
I enjoyed the essays, but as an insider I know Century missed out on mentioning the Arab mob families active in Israel. This would have been great because it is one of the few examples of Jews and Muslims cooperating in lucrative and money making enterprises. That would have added a great heart warming “Kumbaya” element to the story.