JNS BRIEFS 5-29-12



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Click photo to download. Caption: Jonathan Pollard. Credit: PD.Secure Pollard’s release, terror victims say

Several bereaved families have asked President Shimon Peres to take advantage of his upcoming visit to Washington to lobby U.S. President Barack Obama for the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, Israel Hayom reported. The parents wrote to Peres and hope to meet with him before he leaves for Washington in mid-June to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S.’s highest civilian distinction.

“We believe that we have a responsibility to make sure we do not miss an opportunity to bring Pollard back home,” wrote Yehuda and Esther Waxman, the parents of Nachshon Waxman, who was kidnapped and killed by Palestinian terrorists in 1994. Ruhama Raz, whose sister Miriam was killed in 1989 when terrorists caused a bus to breach guard rails along the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway and fall dozens of meters, also signed the letter, along with Ron Kerman, who lost his daughter, Tal, in a 2003 bus bombing in Haifa.

Several weeks ago, a group of activists circulated a petition demanding that Peres refuse to accept the award unless Pollard was released.

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi visits the Communications & Computers Branch School. Credit: IDF.Turkey, still blaming Israel for flotilla, approves indictments

Despite international exoneration of Israel for the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, Turkey is still blaming the Israel Defense Forces for what transpired. 

On Monday—just a few days before the flotilla’s May 31 anniversary—a Turkish court approved a series of indictments seeking multiple life sentences for former IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi and three other former army commanders over their alleged involvement in a raid during which nine Turkish citizens were killed.

IDF soldiers boarded the Mavi Marmara in 2010 after the flotilla illegally tried to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Flotilla activists attacked the Israeli commandos. A United Nations report following the incident said Israel “faces a real threat to its security” from terrorists in Gaza, and that Israel’s naval blockade “was imposed as a legitimate security measure.”

A senior source told Israel Hayom on Monday that the Turkish indictments are “another personal and intentional move by Turkish Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] to erode Israeli-Turkish relations.” Israel would seek legal counsel only once all details in the case became clear, the source said.

—JointMedia News Service             

U.S. and Israeli positions on Iran diverge

There are gaps between the positions of the Israeli prime minister and the White House on negotiations with Iran, sources in Jerusalem said on Sunday.

The remarks were made following the official visit of U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman in Israel over the weekend to discuss regional developments, Israel Hayom reported. Sherman, who serves as head of the U.S. negotiating team for nuclear talks with Iran, traveled to Israel with officials from the White House’s National Security Council and met on Saturday night with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's National Security Adviser Ya’akov Amidror.

According to a senior official in Jerusalem, the Israeli position presented at the meeting required that the three conditions initially set by Israel be executed all at once: the dismantling of the nuclear site in Qom, the cessation of all uranium enrichment, and the removal of all enriched material from Iran. However, these are not the same demands the world superpowers made to Iran, according to the official.

“This is not the position that was presented by the superpowers in talks with Iran,” he said. “The Iranians did not concede to anything and just earned time.”

—JointMedia News Service

Senate, admin differ on bill that may reduce recognized Palestinian refugees

Click photo to download. Caption: Sen. Mark Kirk proposed an amendment that would reduce the number of recognized Palestinian refugees. Credit: U.S. Senate.The Obama administration is opposing a Senate amendment that would require the State Department to report how many Palestinian refugees are receiving aid money from a U.S. tax dollar-funded UN agency. 

The bill also requires the government to quantify how many Palestinians receiving aid were actually displaced after the Israeli Independence War of 1948, and how many are descendents of such refugees.

The amendment passed even though it faced strong opposition from the State Department, the Jordanian government, and the UN refugee agency. It is likely to reduce the number of recognized Palestinian refugees from almost 5 million to about 30,000, the Washington Free Beacon reported. “The amendment simply demands basic transparency with regard to who receives U.S. taxpayer assistance,” said Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who proposed the bill.

—JointMedia News Service

Iran plotted to kill foreign diplomats, including Israeli and American

U.S. and Middle East officials have revealed that a recent plot to kill Americans in Azerbaijan was a small part of a larger plot by Iranian-linked operatives to kill foreign diplomats in at least seven countries. The targets included two Saudi officials, half-a-dozen Israelis and a group of Americans in Azerbaijan, officials said, according to Israel Hayom.

“They were going after individuals…They had names [of employees]. And they were interested in family members, too,” said a former U.S. State Department official who worked with the embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan.

—JointMedia News Service

Intel to invest in Israeli universities

Intel Corporation (Nasdaq: INTC) plans to invest in computational intelligence projects at the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as part of a $40 million global investment in leading innovation universities over the next five years.

The Intel Collaborative Research Institutes (ICRI) is funding “collaborative university research to fuel global innovation in key areas and help address some of today’s most challenging problems,” Intel CTO Justin Rattner said, according to Globes.

“Forming a multidisciplinary community of Intel, faculty and graduate student researchers from around the world will lead to fundamental breakthroughs in some of the most difficult and vexing areas of computing technology,” Rattner said.

—JointMedia News Service

White House sends Biden to meet Jewish leaders

A delegation of 70 leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met in Washington, DC, on May 21 with Vice President Joe Biden and other officials to discuss a variety of foreign policy issues.

Click photo to download. Caption: Vice President Joe Biden, with Malcolm Hoenlein and Richard Stone, speaks to delegates of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations May 21. Credit: Conference of Presidents.Rather than Biden, President Barack Obama was the headliner of last year’s White House meeting with Conference of Presidents delegates. At that March 2011 gathering, Obama reportedly told Jewish leaders to search their souls over Israel’s seriousness about making peace.

Earlier in May, Obama—who was at the NATO Summit in Chicago on Monday and did not speak to the Conference of Presidents delegation—attended a gathering of nine foreign policy editors who discussed Afghanistan, Israel, NATO and the G8 Summit at Camp David. Some of the participating editors are known for being highly critical of Israel.

The journalists who met with Obama included author Peter Beinart, who has come under fire since writing a New York Times op-ed titled “To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements,” The New Yorker’s David Remnick, who has called Israel undemocratic and compared the Jewish state to Syria and Egypt, and Time Magazine’s Joe Klein, who has written that Iran is developing nuclear weapons merely to “deter Israel.” 

Some of the topics on the agenda when Jewish leaders met Biden and other government officials on Monday included preventing Iran from developing or acquiring nuclear weapons, U.S.-Israel security cooperation, and the “Arab Spring.” The officials re-emphasized the Obama administration’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security and their agreement to “keep all options on the table” in order to prevent a nuclear Iran.

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: The cover of "The Observant Life." Credit: The Observant Life.Conservative Judaism book bestseller on Amazon

“The Observant Life: Ritual and Ethics in Contemporary Judaism today,” a book on Conservative Jewish religious philosophy, has reached No. 1 on Amazon.com’s Jewish Life section. 

Written by 30 conservative rabbis, the book discusses how to live a life true to both personal morality and the tenets of the Jewish faith. “The Observant Life, with its open and engaging approach to Jewish Life and practice, is a book that every Jewish home should have,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly.

—JointMedia News Service

Palestinians ‘love’ Israeli products despite global boycotts 

Despite several countries choosing to boycott Israeli products, the Palestinian Authority continues to sell Israeli goods.

Even though PA officials encouraged the recent boycotts by South Africa and Denmark, Israeli products like Strauss and Tnuva regularly fill shelves in Palestinian cities like Bethlehem.

“People love and buy Israeli products,” said one Bethlehem minimarket owner. “If my clients see that the product has Hebrew letters on it or if it says the product is from Israel, they are sure that it is better,” he added, according to Yedioth Ahronoth.

—JointMedia News Service

Palestinian terrorists intensify efforts to abduct Israelis

Several Palestinian terrorist cells were apprehended near Hebron recently, and one of them had been planning to abduct an Israeli in Kiryat Arba, on the outskirts of Hebron, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) officials said May 23, according to Israel Hayom.

The disclosure followed the lifting of a gag order in the case. It also followed a report that the agency had exposed another group that tried to abduct an Israeli in the Binyamin region of Judea and Samaria.

The cell planning the Kiryat Arba abduction included three Hamas members from Hebron. The group’s leader was Matiz Suliman Mahmad Qawasmeh, 21, who has been imprisoned by Israel several times for terrorist-related activities, including having helped his brother transport the terrorists who carried out a suicide bombing in Dimona in February 2008, in which an Israeli woman was killed.

Qawasmeh recruited two of his friends for the planned Kiryat Arba abduction and, in preparation, detonated several explosive devices along the security fence around Kiryat Arba to test the Israeli military’s reaction and observe its operational procedures.

—JointMedia News Service             

Israeli-manufactured drones fly over Singapore skies

The Singapore Air Force has officially announced its receipt and deployment of the Heron-1 unmanned aerial vehicle, which is manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries, the Straits Times reported in Singapore on May 24. The announcement boosts Israel’s already strong international standing as a top-grade UAV manufacturer.

The Straits Times called the drone “Singapore’s new eye in the sky,” and said, “Heron-1 not only makes it easier for soldiers to conduct reconnaissance missions but is also safer for them to spot the enemy.”

The drones will replace others used by the Singapore Air Force since 1994. The previous drones, known as “Searchers,” were also manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries but required teams of pilots to launch them and land them.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Palestinian op-ed and officials call for Israel’s destruction 

An op-ed published in the official Palestinian Authority daily on the anniversary of Israel’s founding called the establishment of the Jewish state “the greatest theft in history,” Palestinian Media Watch reported.

The May 15 op-ed states that Israel’s existence is “the most criminal act that humanity has ever seen... [the establishment of a] fascist state upon the ruins of the Palestinian people, which has suffered the greatest and ugliest ethnic cleansing known to modern history.” The op-ed goes on to wish for Israel’s collapse and Palestine’s return.

Recently, Palestinian Minister of Social Affairs Majida Al-Masri called for Fatah and Hamas to reconcile, but only for the purpose of standing “against the occupation, to halt its activities against our prisoners, and to turn to the struggle to liberate Palestine—all of Palestine.” 

—JointMedia News Service                         

Click photo to download. Caption: The Intel logo. Credit: Intel.Israeli teens win Intel prize for water leak detector 

Students from the Torah U’Mada yeshiva high school of the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) recently won third place in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh.

Nerya Stroh and Gal Oren each won $2,000 for inventing a user-friendly computerized device, AquaStop, which detects water leaks in real time.

Additionally, at the Israel phase of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition in Israel, another group of Torah U’Mada students finished first place in the field of energy and water. The students, David Agassi and Bashan Yehezkel, advanced to the international phase of the Stockholm competition, which is run by the Swedish royal family, the Jerusalem Post reported.

—JointMedia News Service         

Palestinian TV broadcasts girl calling non-Muslims ‘inferior’

Click photo to download. Caption: Palestinian Authority TV recently broadcast this girl reciting a poem in which Christians and Jews are referred to as the “enemy” and as “inferior and smaller, more cowardly and despised.” Credit: PMW. A recent Palestinian Authority television broadcast with the stated purpose of teaching children “responsibility and belonging” showed a young girl reciting a poem in which Christians and Jews are referred to as the “enemy” and as “inferior and smaller, more cowardly and despised.”

Palestinian Media Watch reported that the poem also glorifies violence. “Where is my weapon? I found it—a stone. I took it and threw it at the enemies of destiny,” the girl said.

“Bravo! Applause for our friend Lara,” replies the TV program’s host. 

—JointMedia News Service


Report: White House encourages filmmakers to use Bin Laden raid talking points

The Obama administration has given Hollywood filmmakers working on a movie about the killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs access to information about the raid. White House officials also encouraged the filmmakers to incorporate Obama administration talking points in the film, including that the raid was a “gutsy decision.”

“The Department of Defense, as well as other agencies and departments, regularly engage with the entertainment industry to inform projects ranging from books to documentaries to feature films,” Lt. Col. Jim Gregory of the U.S. Defense Department told CBS News, insisting that no classified information was released.

However, The Daily Caller reported that John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, and Denis McDonough, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, had met with screenwriter Mark Boal. “They were forward leaning and interested in sharing their point of view,” he said.

A June 2011 email from Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers to the Pentagon’s PR chief, Douglas Wilson, states that the filmmakers “are basically using the [White House]-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.”

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: J Street has endorsed California congresswoman Lois Capps (pictured), who refused to sign a 2009 resolution affirming Israel’s right to defend itself and condemning the Goldstone Report. Credit: PD.J Street promotes anti-Israel politicians, targets opposing points of view

The “pro-Israel, pro-peace” advocacy group J Street is reportedly soliciting money for congressional candidates who are known for anti-Israel views. 

According to the Washington Free Beacon, J Street has endorsed more than 50 political candidates. Of those, a large number have openly expressed hostility toward the Jewish state. At least six of the candidates oppose an alliance between the U.S. and Israel, reject Israel’s right for self-defense, and have backed measures intended to force Israel to stop the blockade of the Gaza strip. 

For example, J Street endorsed U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), who refused to sign a 2009 resolution affirming Israel’s right to defend itself and condemning the Goldstone Report, which author Richard Goldstone himself eventually retracted.

“They’re showing their true colors,” said Morris Amitay, a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who currently runs his own political action committee, told the Free Beacon.

Furthermore, J Street has been known to actively oppose candidates who express differing points of view. For instance, the group has called for the ouster of U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), who opposes a two-state solution and advocates for “one contiguous Israeli state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.” J Street has also targeted U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH), who co-sponsored the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012.

—JointMedia News Service

Statue of Raoul Wallenberg vandalized in Budapest 

A statue of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazis in Hungary during World War II, was vandalized in Budapest on May 22, Army Radio reported.

A group of Conservative rabbis from New York reportedly visited the site and saw five bloody pig legs tied around the statue.

“We must not allow anti-Semitism to raise its ugly head,” said a statement issued Wednesday by Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar. “We must act determinedly against all incidents of anti-Semitism. We must not make the mistake of taking this lightly. These acts are directly aimed against the Jewish people’s existence.”

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Yemenite Jewish leader stabbed to death by Muslim

Aaron Joseph Zindani, one of the leaders of the tiny Jewish community in Yemen (about 300 people), was stabbed to death on May 22 in the capital, Sanaa, by a Muslim resident who claimed that Zindani had been practicing sorcery.

Zindani’s son, Yehiya, recounted that his father had been stabbed in his neck and stomach “at the Saawan market near the U.S. embassy in the northeast section of the capital.” Zindani was taken to a hospital and operated on, but eventually succumbed to his wounds.

Yehiya added that the stabber was someone familiar to the family, who had claimed that his father “ruined his business with magic.”

According to Arabic media sources, security forces apprehended a perpetrator named Abed al-Harbi.

—Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JointMedia News Service

Veteran advocate wins $100,000 Bronfman prize

Eric Greitens, founder of an organization that reintegrates post-9/11 veterans into society, on May 22 was named as the winner of the 2012 Charles Bronfman Prize.

The $100,000 award goes to “a young humanitarian whose work is informed and fueled by Jewish values and has broad, global impact that can change lives,” according to The Charles Bronfman Prize Foundation.

Greitens, a 38-year-old former Navy SEAL, in 2007 launched St. Louis-based “The Mission Continues,” which offers six-month community service fellowship to veterans, placing them at local non-profits based on their personal interests. The veterans often transition to full employment or higher education after their fellowships. 

“Eric Greitens views those who have sacrificed on the battlefield as national assets. As history proves, this has not always been the case,” said James Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank, on behalf of the Bronfman prize judges. “By teaching us to respect and value this generation of warriors, he is not only a humanitarian, but also a leader guided by the light of just and noble ends.”

—JointMedia News Service

Click photo to download. Caption: A "Machalnik," or foreign volunteer, during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. Credit: Beit Hatfutsot.Israeli museum to open exhibit on foreign volunteers in War of Independence

Beit Hatfutsot, the “Museum of the Jewish People” in Tel Aviv, announced the opening of a new exhibition focusing on Jewish volunteers from around the world in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. The exhibition will open on June 1.

In November 1947, the UN General Assembly decided to divide Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. After Arabs objected to the plan, surrounding nations attacked the new Jewish state, triggering the War of Independence.

Most of the Jewish foreigners who volunteered to fight in the war on behalf of Israel were from English-speaking countries and significantly contributed to naval, medical, infantry, tank, and artillery operations. They were known as “Machalniks”—4,500 volunteered and 123 were killed.

—JointMedia News Service

Posted on May 29, 2012 and filed under Briefs, Israel, U.S., World.