Spencer Partrich (L - Ron Lieberman Photography) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R-Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90 via JTA)

Spencer Partrich, local real estate magnate and philanthropist, wants to donate millions of dollars to Netanyahu’s corruption defense fund. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery back in January. According to the Associated Press, the trial began last month in Jerusalem and is set to resume next month... and a prominent Jewish Detroiter may play a large part. 

Although he’s on trial for receiving money from wealthy friends, Netanyahu has asked an Israeli oversight committee to review and allow him to receive a $2.9 million donation from his friend, Bloomfield Hills resident Spencer Partrich, to help fund his legal defense. Partrich is currently a witness, number 283 out of 333, in one of the cases against Netanyahu.

Partrich declined to comment to the JN regarding the matter.  

Partrich is co-owner of Lautrec Ltd., a Farmington Hills-based real estate management and development firm. He has also been long associated with Jewish causes throughout the Metro Detroit community, including running the Spencer M. Partrich Charitable Foundation, a private foundation in Farmington Hills founded in 2016.  

Partrich serves on the executive board for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and was honored on November 3, 2015 at the FIDF Michigan Gala Dinner. Netanyahu spoke via video at the dinner honoring his “close friend and a committed, dedicated Jew, Spencer M. Partrich.” 

“As a matter of policy,” the FIDF would not comment on the issue.

Partrich also donated $10,000 to the Republican Party of Michigan back in 2018, according to Open Secrets. His wife, Myrna, also donated $10,000 that same year. 

According to the AP, Netanyahu’s ties to Partrich span as far back as 1999, when Netanyahu was just finishing his first term as prime minister. 

Partrich, according to AP and the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, also purchased Netanyahu’s brother’s half of the Jerusalem home that Netanyahu and his brother had inherited from their father. 

According to court documents, Netanyahu has already been approved to receive a $570,000 loan from Partrich. Last year, however, the committee denied Netanyahu’s request for the $2.9 million donation from Partrich, saying it was inappropriate given the circumstances. 

This year, a new committee was formed under Netanyahu which allowed for the request of the money from Partrich to be brought back up. Currently, the committee is awaiting the Israeli attorney general’s decision on whether or not Netanyahu will be allowed to receive Partrich’s money for his legal funds. 

Bryan Roby, an assistant professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan focusing on Middle Eastern and North African Jewish history, told the JN that the outside donation to a sitting prime minister “is incredibly unusual.”

“I know over the past decade or so there have been, in the Likud party particularly, attacks against the center and left-wing parties for receiving foreign donations from American Jews, and that it is an unnecessary and undue foreign influence on Israeli politics,” Roby said“To hear that [Netanyahu] is openly soliciting donations from American Jews is not surprising, but pretty shocking that he would openly solicit this.”

You can check out the JN’s previous coverage of Spencer Partrich below:

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