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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Liars, More Liars, Damned Liars and Estherina Tarman

After she boasted about her professional qualifications for post of tourism minister, it turns out that Estherina Tartman lied about her academic career and has little academic training, and aslo collects disability insurance because the claims she can't work. Indeed, she is the perfect marketing person, who has no respect for truth.

Tartman holds no university degree, despite claims in her CV

By Tamara Traubmann and Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondents and Haaretz Service

Tourism Minister-designate Esterina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu) does not hold any university degree, despite claims in her curriculum vitae to the contrary.

Following reports earlier Tuesday in Yedioth Aharonoth that Tartman never received a masters degree, various media sources reported that the minister-designate had also never received a bachelors degree.

In her CV and on the Web sites of the Knesset and Yisrael Beiteinu, Tartman claims to have received a bachelors degree from Bar Ilan University and a masters degree in finance and marketing from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Bar Ilan University spokesman Samuel Elgrabli confirmed that Tartman is not, and has never been, registered as a student. According to a university investigation, Tartman completed continuing education courses at an institution affiliated with Bar Ilan.

With regard to her claims to a masters degree, Tartman apparently completed a few courses at Touro College, an institution that does not grant degrees.

In an interview with Haaretz correspondent Ari Shavit earlier Tuesday, Tartman confirmed that her long and short-term memory and her powers of concentration are compromised.

Tartman also said that she would propose revoking the citizenship of Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews who refused to sign a declaration of loyalty to the state, and would require those who did, to perform a form of national service.

Tartman has been under growing scrutiny since her party chose her on Sunday to replace Labor cabinet minister Yitzhak Herzog as tourism minister.

One focus of the media glare has been a claim of disability stemming from a 1997 traffic accident. Following the accident, she claimed that she could no longer work more than four hours a day, a suit entitles her to an award of NIS 2.5 million by two insurance companies, plus a monthly stipend of a few thousand shekels from the National Insurance Institute. The NII found that she was 52-percent disabled.

But documents in the case have revealed that shortly after the accident, she was maintaining a busy schedule, including long hours of political activity.

In an interview with Shavit broadcast on the Channel 10, Tartman was asked if the disability claim was accurate, and, if so, how the disability might affect her work as a cabinet minister.

"The problem still exists, but I have acquired skills to deal with it, and to minimize it," she said.

"My level of concentration and my level of memory were harmed," she said. "I have a disability, there are areas of my memory of the past that were affected, I have a problem with long-term and short-term memory."

However, she added, in a reference to her freshman term in the Knesset, "Over the past year has anyone detected this? No. Not because I am not disabled, but because I learned to deal with it."

In the Tuesday interview, Tartman was also asked about her stance with regard to Israeli Arabs. Earlier Tuesday, the Knesset Ethics Committee decided against taking any action against Tartman for a January statement in which she called the appointment of Muslim Arab MK Raleb Majadele to the post of minister as "a lethal blow to Zionism," and said "we must destroy the affliction within us, with God's help, the Holy One blessed be He will help us."

Tartman said Tuesday that "Any citizen who is not loyal to the idea of a Jewish state ? his citizenship should be rescinded."

She said she opposed the idea of expelling citizens ? whether Arabs or ultra-Orthodox Jews - who refuse to sign a loyalty declaration, rather "to turn their status into one of a resident, without the right to vote or to run for office."

According to Tartman, Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews who do not perform IDF service would be required to do a form of national service.

Allegations of misrepresenting her studies
Meanwhile, concerns were raised within Yisrael Beiteinu over allegations published Tuesday in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, which indicated that Tartman had lied about her educational background.

In an interview this week to the Knesset television channel, Tartman stated that she held a master's degree in business administration.

Yedioth noted that on the official Yisrael Beiteinu Web site, Tartman's biography listed her as having a "Master's degree in economics and marketing from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem."

In response to queries from the media, which found that her graduate education was limited to several courses in a college that does not grant advanced degrees, the site entry was changed to read "Business administration Master's degree studies."

The Knesset's official Web site still lists her as having a Master's degree.

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