DM Ya’alon: Compelling Chareidim to Serve in the IDF is a Dangerous Policy

August 26th, 2015

idffDefense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has once again emphasized that trying to compel chareidim to serve in the military is a dangerous policy that is likely to backfire. Ya’alon has been a longtime advocate of dialogue towards bringing more chareidim into the IDF or national service and he has always spoken out against efforts such as the ones seen in the previous government to compel chareidim to enter the military against their will. The passage of the new induction law compelling chareidim to serve seems to have backfired as Ya’alon feared for there are fewer chareidim stepping forward to serve as a result according to statistics released in recent months.

Kikar Shabbos News interviewed the senior minister in his office in an effort to understand the Ministry’s position vis-à-vis the drafting of chareidim into the IDF. The minister has not changed his position. He emphasized that a great deal has been accomplished in recent years through dialogue and mutual respect and he remains opposed to efforts to compel the chareidi community to serve in the military. He explains that he believes the eligible men should serve, but never must he never wanted to accomplish this by passing a law as was the case in the previous administration. “I saw this as being very dangerous” he explained.

“When I became involved in this political argument, primarily in the previous administration, my position was extremely clear. I was afraid the frenzy among politicians might lead to a process of withdrawing from entering the military. We achieved significant progress with a law compelling the situation. I was happy to learn that after the political crisis and the legislation, I was afraid of a decline. I saw the numbers which show a continued willingness of chareidi youths to enlist. I said if we can overcome this crisis I am optimistic regarding the future”.

Ya’alon was quick to add that this compels the system to continue efforts to bring chareidim onboard without compelling them. “From my perspective this is very important. I am absolutely optimistic for there is a process of integration which is for the good of the chareidi community, Israeli society and the State of Israel”.

Ya’alon explains the need to accommodate the chareidi lifestyle as a major step towards bringing the young members of the community into the military and he stresses he does not differentiate between combat service in Netzach Yehuda or in one of the non-combatant units, the technological units. He insists that continue dialogue along with accommodating the needs of the chareidi inductee will result in more young men coming onboard.

“It is no secret that there are those in the chareidi community who do not love the chareidi inductees to put it mildly and there are families who do not love it either. Unfortunately there are complicated incidents when a young man enlists against the will of his family and often the surrounding environment does not support him. Therefore it is of paramount importance to provide a family and social structure that accompanies the inductees in their service and as more people grow accustomed to seeing chareidim in the green uniform and green chareidi laundry hanging on the clothes line in chareidi neighborhoods the concept will become more understood but this is a process that takes time”.

Ya’alon spoke of the unfortunately events, when family remains strongly opposed and when there is violence directed at these soldiers, adding those who attack the soldiers are publically rebuked by rabbonim. He points out the need to lend support to the chareidi inductees who face many difficulties, looking back at the process over the past two decades and the progress that has been made.

“One of the most touching events for me is seeing one who represents the chareidi community lighting a torch on Independence Day…when you see the mobilization of the young chareidim it signals the integration and the figures speak for themselves. This is true regarding academic certification for chareidi as well as their integration into the workplace, for men and women, this is a welcome trend”.

“I am acquainted with Nachal Chareidi from its first days when I was serving as Central District Commander. I was there to receive the first company of Netzach Yehuda combatants which began serving in the Jordan Valley district – the first 96 chareidi combatants. It was history in the making and since then, thousands have enlisted”. He pointed out that today there is already a Netzach Yehuda reserve duty battalion.

Ya’alon feels that not every chareidi male wishes to continue in yeshiva and he feels the IDF can attract those seeking an alternative, those who do not view continuing limud as their first objective. “The IDF service is not intended to change the character of the chareidi inductees as the situation permits upholding the level of kashrus and lifestyle he is accustomed to in addition to providing an element of satisfaction knowing one is participating in the defense of the nation, giving of himself and amassing personal experience which leads to increased self-confidence”.

“Towards the end of his service if the young man does not have an occupation, his service permits him to acquire one and at the completion of his service he can enter the workplace with a profession. The chareidi young are quite talented”.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

State Department Officials Routinely Sent Secrets Over Email

August 26th, 2015

hilThe transmission of now-classified information across Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email is consistent with a State Department culture in which diplomats routinely sent secret material on unsecured email during the past two administrations, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Clinton’s use of a home server makes her case unique and has become an issue in her front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. But it’s not clear whether the security breach would have been any less had she used department email. The department only systematically checks email for sensitive or classified material in response to a public records request.

In emails about the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, department officials discuss sensitive matters in real time, including the movement of Libyan militias and the locations of key Americans. The messages were released last year under the Freedom of Information Act and are posted on the State Department’s website.

An email from diplomat Alyce Abdalla, sent the night of the attack, appears to report that the CIA annex in Benghazi was under fire. The email has been largely whited out, with the government citing the legal exemption for classified intelligence information. The existence of that facility is now known; it was a secret at the time.

In an email sent at 8:51 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2012, Eric J. Pelofsky, a senior adviser to then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, gives an update on efforts to locate U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who died in the attack.

The email was marked unclassified when sent. Later, part of it was deemed classified and censored before its release.

In five emails that date to Condoleezza Rice’s tenure as secretary of state during the George W. Bush administration, large chunks are censored on the grounds that they contain classified national security or foreign government information.

These emails also are posted on the State Department website’s reading room.

In a December 2006 email, diplomat John J. Hillmeyer appears to have pasted the text of a confidential cable from Beijing about China’s dealings with Iran and other sensitive matters. Large portions of the email were marked classified and censored before release.

Clinton insists she didn’t send or receive classified information. But government officials have found material they deem classified in 30,000 emails that the former secretary of state has turned over, an unfolding saga that has dogged her 2016 campaign.

Many of the emails to Clinton containing classified information were forwarded to her by a close aide, Huma Abedin. Most, however, originated with diplomats who have access to confidential material. Some emails sent by Clinton have since been censored.

Such slippage of classified information into regular email is “very common, actually,” said Leslie McAdoo, a lawyer who frequently represents government officials and contractors in disputes over security clearances and classified information.

What makes Clinton’s case different is that she exclusively sent and received emails through a home server in lieu of the State Department’s unclassified email system. Neither would have been secure from hackers or foreign intelligence agencies, so it would be equally problematic whether classified information was carried over the government system or a private server, experts say.

In fact, the State Department’s unclassified email system has been penetrated by hackers believed linked to Russian intelligence.

Many of the emails to Clinton came from email accounts, noted Steven Aftergood, an expert on classification at the Federation of American Scientists. “So if there is routine security screening and monitoring of incoming and outgoing State Department emails, anything that is classified should have been flagged. That does not seem to have happened. I think it’s the State Department culture.”

That may be true, but it would not save a rank-and-file official with a security clearance who was caught sending classified information over email, said Bradley Moss, a lawyer who frequently represents intelligence officers. That person could lose his job, his clearance, or both.

“In real life, the ‘everybody does it defense’ doesn’t fly,” Moss said.

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said State Department officials were permitted at the time to use personal email accounts for official business, and that the department was aware of Clinton’s private server.

The AP has asked the State Department to turn over records reflecting any concerns by agency computer staff or security officials over Clinton’s use of a private email server, but has received no responsive documents.

There is no indication that any information in Clinton emails was marked classified at the time it was sent. But critics have said Clinton and her aides should have known not to discuss anything remotely secret over unsecured email. The emails show they were cognizant of security, routinely communicating over secure phone and fax lines.

Clinton also had access to a classified messaging system, but it’s not widely used at the State Department. Most department officials in Washington and at embassies have on their desktops a classified network that goes up to “secret” level. A small number of State officials, including the secretary, can use a third system that goes up to “top secret” level in special secure rooms.

But even the middle-tier “secret” network is cumbersome for many in the agency, said officials who would not be quoted when discussing internal security policies. Only a few top officials in Washington are able to read classified emails outside the department’s headquarters. Most ambassadors can’t open their accounts from home. Officials in the field may have no access at all.

Lots of State Department information is meant for use, sharing and interaction with foreign officials, the vast majority of whom aren’t authorized to receive classified U.S. material.


Erdan Taps Former IDF Officer Gal Hirsch as Next Israel Police Chief

August 26th, 2015

galPublic Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced his nomination for the next Chief of Israel Police, former IDF Brigadier-General Gal Hirsch. The appointment must be approved by the Turkel Committee and the cabinet, which is expected to be the case.

Hirsch, a highly decorated officer, resigned from the military after the Second Lebanon War after he came under fire for his conduct. His appointment came as a surprise to many, not to mention Acting Police Chief Bentzi Sau, who close friends signal will retire from the force when his tenure ends on September 1, 2015. There was much criticism heard from among the senior ranks of Israel Police in response to the appointment of an outsider. Petitions challenging his appointment are also likely to be filed with the High Court of Justice following the blemish to Hirsch’s record in the Second Lebanon War.

Hirsch, 51, was raised in Arad. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mideast Studies from Bar Ilan University and a master’s degree in business administration from Tel Aviv University. He began his IDF career as a paratrooper and served in many prestigious command posts before resigning at the rank of brigadier-general. Many viewed Hirsch as a prime candidate to become a future IDF Chief of Staff prior to his decision to resign.

During the war Hirsch told the press he forces were in control of Bint Jbeil only to have eight soldiers fall in combat the very next day. The nation was split regarding the criticism leveled at Hirsch. Some felt he was being made the scapegoat for the failures of IDF Chief Dan Halutz and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who both ultimately resigned as well. The two were viewed as colossal failures in their posts, with Peretz lacking a military past and Halutz the first-ever Chief of the IAF appointed as Chief of the General Staff. Based on his performance in the Second Lebanon War it was clear that Halutz’s experience in the air force exclusively left him ill prepared to lead the nation’s armed forces.

Supporters of Hirsch said the IDF chief and the defense minister placed the blame on his shoulders and he made the decision to resign in response.

In a brief statement to the press on Wednesday, 11 Elul, Erdan explained that in the past days and weeks he read many reports, including internal Israel Police reports which cited many alarming deficiencies in the force. This accompanied with the resignation of six deputy chiefs for alleged involvement in corruption and immoral activities led Erdan to select the department’s successor from outside the department. It is added that this appointment is not the first time a chief was appointment from outside the department.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly wanted to promote a deputy to the chief’s slot, taking someone from inside the force, but Erdan reportedly persuaded the prime minister to back his decision to tap the decorated retired senior IDF officer for the position. Erdan is confident that Hirsch is the man to rebuild the image of Israel Police, telling Kol Chai Radio that he hopes more chareidim will opt to join the police as a career. He explained that while he does not support everything the chareidi community does, he finds the community unique in its character and abilities and feels chareidi inductees could contribute greatly to changing the department for the better.

President Reuven Rivlin praises Hirsch’s appointment

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Rubio: Donald Trump Won’t Be Republican Nominee

August 26th, 2015

rubioFlorida Sen. Marco Rubio says Donald Trump will not be the Republican presidential nominee because his message is not an optimistic one.

He says the GOP nominee “is going to be someone who embraces the future,” and he is taking issue with Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again.” Rubio’s parents came to the United States from Cuba and he uses his family story to show the power of the America dream.

Rubio says America is already a great country that can be made greater with forward-thinking policies on education and the economy.

Rubio has largely shied away from taking on Trump, even as rivals such as Jeb Bush and Rand Paul have become more forceful in criticizing the billionaire businessman who sits atop Republican polls.


Ads Slamming Congressman Jerry Nadler run in Jewish Papers

August 26th, 2015




If you read a Jewish newspaper this weekend you are likely to see an ad slamming Congressman Jerry Nadler for his support of the Iran deal. The ad plainly states: “Jerry Nadler represents more Jews than any other Congressman. He claims to be Pro-Israel. So why is he backing Obama and Iran?” The ad calls on voters to call Congressman Nadler at (800) 733 5417 and “tell him to stand with Israel – NOT Iran.”

Congressman Nadler set of a fire-storm last week when he became the first Congressman from New York to announce his support for President Obama’s deal with Iran. Nadler’s decision to support the Iran deal was especially surprising considering Senator Chuck Schumer’s strong public opposition to the Iran deal just a few days earlier. Nadler was roundly condemned by Jewish leaders including those that represent his Brooklyn district: Assemblyman Dov Hikind, Councilman David Greenfield and Senator Simcha Felder. Hikind promised that the community would run a candidate against Nadler and spend millions to defeat him. Greenfield criticized Nadler for lying to the community when he told community leaders days before his announcement that he was undecided. Felder is headlining a rally against Nadler with holocaust survivors later today in front of Nadler’s office.


The decision by Nadler to support the Iran deal has opened a rift between Nadler and Brooklyn’s Jewish community which generally feels ignored by Nadler’s Upper West Side politics. However, the community traditionally supported Nadler based on his pro-Israel record. Nadler’s support for the Iran deal was an especially big blow for opponents of the deal because it provides political cover for non-Jews to vote in favor of the Iran deal. These critical ads are likely to be the first of a long campaign of disenfranchisement with Congressman Jerry Nadler within his traditional base of support in the Jewish community.


(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

40-Year-Old Man Badly Burned in a Bnei Brak Store Fire

August 26th, 2015

mdanA 40-year-old man sustained moderate-to-serious injuries in a fire in a store that sells baby items, ‘Motzatzim’. The fire occurred on Mivtza Kodesh Street on Wednesday morning 11 Elul. Hatzalah Gush Dan EMTs responded to the blaze.

The man was extricated from the basement of the store by firefighters. He was transported by Magen David Adom paramedics to Ichilov Hospital.

A number of other people were treated on the scene for light injuries.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Airfare Deals Pop Up As Airlines Wage Limited Fare Wars

August 26th, 2015

planeAirline fare wars are making a comeback.

Don’t expect widespread sales or cheap flights home for Thanksgiving. But a number of cities are seeing ridiculously low prices at off-peak hours — prices the industry has spent the years trying to eliminate.

Fliers have been able to fly Chicago to Boston for $80 roundtrip, San Francisco to Las Vegas for $67 roundtrip and New York to Los Angeles, with a connection, for $150 roundtrip.

“This is the big break consumers have been waiting for in response to lower fuel prices,” says Seth Kaplan, managing partner of industry newsletter Airline Weekly.

The price of oil is at the lowest level in six and a half years and the industry is saving billions of dollars on fuel, giving airlines leeway to cut fares but still post healthy profits. Airlines have also added larger, more efficient planes to their fleets while packing more seats into existing jets. So, while the number of domestic flights is down slightly over the past 12 months, there are now 3.4 percent more seats for sale — too many to meet the demand in all cities. To fill those extra seats, airlines have had to offer discounts.

Still, airlines are being very selective. Forget finding a deal for busy holidays or on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays when business travelers fly. The best prices are for flights on traditionally slow days like Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. And it helps if Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines or Frontier Airlines flies the route.

For instance, Frontier recently had a sale for members of its club who pay an annual $50 fee. Tickets were being offered for $15 one-way including taxes.

American Airlines and — to a lesser extent — Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are matching some of the discount fares. By doing so, they actually undercut the ultra-low-cost carries because Spirit and Frontier charge customers extra to use overhead baggage bins or to have a drink of water.

“They’re trying to force them out of the market and they have the power to do this because they are making record profits,” says George Hobica, founder of travel deal site

Spirit and Frontier each carries less than 2 percent of all domestic passengers. American, United and Delta made $6.6 billion in combined profits during the first half of this year, so they afford to fight back on routes such as Chicago to Atlanta.

American spokesman Casey Norton says the airline “constantly looks at how we compete against a wide variety of airlines — from low cost carriers to premium global brands.”

Delta and United declined to comment. However, Delta has expanded its “Basic Economy” fare to more than 450 markets. Fliers booking these tickets typically save $15 each way, but are not given advanced seat assignments, can’t cancel or change the flight and are last to board.

Fare wars were destructive to the industry in the 1980s. Airlines were focused on being the largest carrier on a route, even though it often meant losing money.

Today’s airline industry is more disciplined, so the fare wars cause much less damage. The airlines still collect substantial fares on highly-profitable business routes and for holiday travel. Additionally, they take in billions in dollars fees for checked baggage fees and other things that were included in the ticket price back in the 1980s.

Even passengers unable to take advantage of today’s bargain-basement deals are getting a tiny bit of relief.

The average cost of a roundtrip domestic ticket, including taxes, purchased during the first seven months of this year was $494.12. That’s down $5.41, or 1.1 percent, from the same period last year, according to the Airlines Reporting Corp., which processes ticket transactions for airlines and travel agencies.

Prices are still higher than they were in 2011, 2012 and 2013, even when adjusted for inflation. And the small drop in ticket prices is nothing compared to the 31-percent savings airlines have seen on their fuel bills since the start of this year.

One city having an outsized impact on fares is Dallas, where a federal law that banned most long flights from Dallas Love Field was lifted in October.

Led by Southwest Airlines, the Dallas market has seen an 8.6 percent increase in seats for the 12 months ending in August, more than double the growth for the entire country.

Wolfe Research analyst Hunter Keay says that two out of every five domestic flights — local market ones or connecting trips — can be affected by what happens in Dallas.

For instance, if Southwest offers a cheap fare from New York to Los Angeles, connecting in Dallas, American tries to match that. That forces United to match the fare for its flights, even if they connect in Chicago.

“If passengers are willing to connect in Dallas, they are willing to connect in Chicago,” says Keay.

The Associated Press purchased a $40.10 one-way ticket on American Airlines from New York’s JFK Airport to Dallas-Fort Worth, departing at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Government taxes and fees were $15.91, leaving American with $24.19 for the 1,391-mile trip.

All but five seats on the 160-passenger jet were occupied. Many passengers were coming off highly-profitable international flights that arrived earlier in New York. Others were just connecting in Dallas, heading on to places like Oklahoma.

Brandon Perdue, a college student, booked the cheapest one-way ticket he could find from New York to his home in Los Angeles four days before traveling. Even with a connection in Dallas, it cost $650.

“I feel ripped off,” Perdue says. It didn’t help that he paid $25 to check a suitcase and an extra $100 fee because it weighed more than 50 pounds.

The AP bought its ticket 22 days in advance, at a time that American’s booking algorithm predicted low demand for the flight.

“If you hadn’t booked the ticket, the seat would have likely gone empty. They’re better off taking your low fare than nothing at all,” says Kaplan of Airline Weekly. “But American would lose a lot of money if everybody on the plane was paying what you paid.”


IDF Forces Arrested 31 Suspects Throughout Yehuda, Shomron And Jordan Valley

August 26th, 2015

idfIDF forces operating in areas of Yehuda, Shomron and the Jordan Valley on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 Elul, arrested 31 suspects. Arrests were made south of Shechem, and Ramallah. Eleven suspects were arrested in Hussan in connection to terror attacks on the Hussan Bypass Road.

Soldiers involved in the operation uncovered weapons and ammunition during some of the arrests. This includes six rifles, a pistol, scope and an unspecified number of magazines.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Ministry Okays Flights to Uman on Motzei Shabbos

August 26th, 2015

umanTransportation Minister Yisrael Katz has given approval for flights to take off from Ben-Gurion International Airport for Uman throughout the night on motzei Shabbos erev Rosh Hashanah. The minister was asked to permit the flights as many persons intending to fly to Uman after Shabbos feared if they can only leave on Sunday morning, some travelers may be stuck close to yomtov as they travel from the airport to the tziyun.

Takeoffs are prohibited in the airport from 01:00 to 05:30 daily. Without Katz’s okay, the first flights for Uman would not have departed from Israel until Sunday morning and this would be cutting it close for many mispallalim who wish to daven at the tziyun of Rav Nachman ZT”L on Rosh Hashanah.

Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush has been working during recent weeks to persuade the minister to give the okay for the flights to take off on motzei shabbos and throughout the night. He was dealing with Transportation Ministry Director-General Uzi Yitzchaki and the Director-General of the Airport Authority, Yaakov Ganot. Porush works to assist the travelers to Uman every year, and this year he came through once again. It was Porush who was also instrumental a number of years ago in eliminating the need for obtaining a visa before traveling to Uman. This made it significantly easier for mispallalim heading to Uman for Rosh Hashanah and year-round.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Trump Starts New Media Feud With Univision Anchor Ramos

August 26th, 2015


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has opened up a new media feud, taking on another popular TV news personality even as his appearances continue to draw big ratings.

Trump engaged in a prolonged confrontation Tuesday with Jorge Ramos, the Miami-based anchor for Univision, during a news conference in Dubuque, Iowa.

Ramos stood and began to ask Trump about his immigration proposal, which includes ending automatic citizenship for infants born in the United States to parents in the country illegally.

As Ramos began to speak, Trump interrupted him, saying he hadn’t called on Ramos before repeatedly telling him to “sit down” and then saying, “Go back to Univision.”

As one of Trump’s security detail approached Ramos, the anchor continued to speak, saying: “You cannot deport 11 million people.” Ramos was referring to Trump’s proposal to deport all people in the country illegally before allowing some of them to return.

As he was taken from the room, Ramos said, “You cannot build a 1,900-mile wall,” another proposal in Trump’s plan.

Moments later, Trump justified Ramos’ removal, saying: “He just stands up and starts screaming. Maybe he’s at fault also.”

In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday morning, Ramos said he was not expecting to be tossed from the news conference.

“Never in my life — and I’ve been a journalist for more than 30 years — have I been thrown out of a press conference,” he said.

As to criticism that he was acting more as an advocate than a journalist, Ramos replied, “As a journalist you have to take a stand. I think the best journalism happens when you take a stand.”

Trump told NBC’s “Today” show that Ramos “stood up and started ranting and raving like a madman. He was totally, absolutely out of line.”

The Incident happened the day after Trump resumed his feud with Fox News Channel anchor Megyn Kelly. Trump welcomed Kelly back from a vacation Monday night by tweeting that he liked her show better while she was away. He said Kelly “must have had a terrible vacation” because “she’s really off her game,” and retweeted a message that referred to her as a bimbo.

That drew a response from Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who called on Trump to apologize.

The billionaire businessman’s immigration proposal has sparked intense debate within the 2016 Republican field. Several candidates, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have called it “unrealistic,” and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker bobbled his answer on whether he supports ending birthright citizenship.

Ramos was later allowed back into Tuesday’s news conference. Trump greeted him politely, though they quickly resumed their argument, interrupting each other during an extended back-and-forth.

“Your immigration plan, it is full of empty promises,” Ramos began. “You cannot deny citizenship to children born in this country.”

“Why do you say that?” Trump replied. “Some of the great legal scholars agree that’s not true.”

Citizenship for infants born in the United States is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, and changing that would require amending the Constitution.

During the five-minute exchange, Ramos claimed that 40 percent of people in the country illegally enter through airports, not over the Mexican border. “I don’t believe that. I don’t believe it,” Trump responded.

A 2006 report by the Pew Hispanic Center found that up to 45 percent of the people in the U.S. illegally entered with legal visas but overstayed them.

Trump said he did not believe that a majority of immigrants in the U.S. illegally were criminals, or in the country to commit crimes. “Most of them are good people,” he said. But he described recent cases where people had been killed by assailants later determined to be in the country illegally.

Finally, Trump reminded Ramos that he was suing Univision, which dropped Trump’s Miss Universe pageant after he described Mexican immigrants in the U.S. illegally as “criminals” and “rapists.”

“Do you know how many Latinos work for me? Do you know how many Hispanics work for me?” Trump said. “Thousands. They love me.”

Isaac Lee, chief executive officer of Univision, responded to the confrontation with a written comment: “We’d love for Mr. Trump to sit down for an in-depth interview with Jorge to talk about the specifics of his proposals.”


International Rabbinic Delegation Travels to Vilnius to Plea for the Cancellation of Development Plans on the Snipiskes Cemetery

August 26th, 2015

3A Rabbinic Delegation visited today Vilnius and met the authorities to plead with them to cancel plans to construct a Congress Hall on Snipiskes Jewish cemetery.

The Snipiskes cemetery was established over five centuries ago, and it interred the most famous Jewish leaders of Vilnius. Sadly, the cemetery’s Gravestones were razed and the cemetery was desecrated by a series of regimes, including the Nazis and the Soviets. The latter built a now-abandoned Sports Palace on the cemetery land. Desecration continued in recent years, under Lithuania’s democratic government. During the last ten years, two apartment buildings were constructed on cemetery grounds and human remains were disturbed, shattered and excavated, despite protests from Jewish communities worldwide.

Recently, the government announced plans to redevelop the abandoned Sports Palace into a Congress Hall. Leading American and Israeli Rabbis who maintain the Lithuanian tradition of Talmud study publicly decried the plan, protesting “any use of this sacred site other than for prayer and solemn reflection.”

On Tuesday, a hi-level rabbinic delegation, with members from the US, Europe and Israel, met the Lithuanian authorities. The group met the First Deputy Chancellor Mr. Rimantas Vaitkus – who welcomed the group on behalf of Prime Minister Mr. Algirdas Butkevičius while he was abroad – and the Mayor of Vilnius, Mr. Remigijus Šimašius, to personally express the international Jewish Community’s opposition to the plan. The meetings were attended by a number of top governmental advisers and the chair of the local Jewish community, Ms. Faina Kukliansky.

Among the group members were leaders of the most famous Jewish institutions carrying on the glorious Lithuanian-Jewish tradition, such as Rabbi Malkiel Kotler, dean of Beth Medrash Govoha, a 6,500 student Yeshiva in Lakewood, NJ, and Rabbi Osher Kalmanowitz, dean of the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn, NY. Both are descendants of Vilnius. They were joined by the veteran European Rabbi and Halachic author Rabbi Avraham Yaffe Schlesinger, Chief Rabbi of the Orthodox Jewish community Machsike Hadass in Geneva, Switzerland; Rabbi David Niederman, representing the Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada, an umbrella group of hundreds of Jewish congregations with a total membership of over 100,000; Dr. David Michael Schaps, of the Conference of Academicians for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries; and Rabbi Chizki Kalmanowitz, expert of Asra Kadisha, an organization active for over half a century in preserving Jewish cemeteries worldwide.

“We had a thorough discussion with the Deputy Chancellor and Mayor and other officials, and we appreciate the time they gave to hear the outcry from the rabbinical leaders and worldwide Jewry, and their promise to review our request and respond to us. We were encouraged to hear that the plans aren’t final yet. We hope and pray that our plea to fully preserve the cemetery and cancel the current plans will be granted,” said Rabbi Niederman.

Upon their return, the delegation members will meet their counterparts in the US, Europe and Israel, and Jewish leaders and communities are determined to double down on the effort to reach out to their government and world leaders to assure the preservation and sacredness of the entire cemetery.

Vilnius was known among Jews as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania,” being the city of the most famous scholars and leaders of the Lithuanian-tradition Yeshivos and torah scholarship. At the onset of WWII, the Lithuanian Jewish population reached a quarter million. Ninety percent perished during the Holocaust, among the highest victim rates in Europe – through riots, pogroms, mass executions and deportations. 45 percent of Vilinus’ pre-war population – or close to hundred thousand – were Jewish, but today its Jewish population is merely at five percent of that. Many decedents of the once thriving Jewish communities resettled in the US and re-established famous Lithuanian Yeshivos and communities.

In addition to the rabbis of the Lithuanian communities worldwide, the plans are opposed by the Lithuanian Chief Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, as well as Jewish international organizations, such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center. They demand to fully and appropriately preserve this sacred site, a remnant of the once-glorious community destroyed in the holocaust.

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(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

Suspect Who Murdered 2 Virginia TV News Journalists During Live Broadcast Has Killed Himself [UPDATED 2:35PM]

August 26th, 2015

VLFSuspected gunman in the murders of WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman, Adam Ward, during a live morning broadcast outside Roanoke, reportedly has shot himself. The gunman, identified as Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, was a former station employee who went by the on-air name ‘Bryce Williams.’

A law enforcement official says the suspect in the on-air shooting of two TV station employees died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Franklin County Sheriff W.Q. “Bill” Overton Jr. gave that detail Wednesday during a news conference.

Officials say suspect Vester Flanagan died at 1:26 Thursday at a hospital in Northern Virginia. Authorities say the man killed his former co-workers — reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward — during a live broadcast for WDBJ-TV on Wednesday morning outside a shopping mall.

The station has said Flanagan went by Bryce Williams on the air. While he worked at the station, they say, he was angry and difficult to work with. He was fired.

About 6:35 Wednesday morning, a reporter and cameraman were killed while doing a live broadcast outside a shopping center in central Virginia for WDBJ-TV. The shooting was broadcast live.

Video of the shooting was later posted on the Twitter account and Facebook page of someone under the name Bryce Williams. The video showed an outstretched arm holding the handgun and firing repeatedly at Parker as she tried to run away.


Muhmad Alaan Receives Visitors in Barzilai Hospital After Ending Hunger Strike

August 26th, 2015

20150825085232Former hunger-striking security prisoner Muhmad Alaan remains in Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital to recover from his hunger strike which lasted over two months. Alaan remained determined to gain his release or strike till the death and he emerged the victor as the High Court of Justice temporarily suspended his administrative detention, after which he began eating again.

He has since become a hero and the photos show prominent members of the Israeli Arab community including MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi visiting him along with members of his family.

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(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem/Photos: קאיד אלקסאסי)

2 Virginia TV Station Workers Fatally Shot on Air; Suspect Dead [UPDATED 2:30PM]

August 26th, 2015

t A TV reporter and cameraman were shot to death during a live television interview Wednesday by a gunman who recorded himself carrying out the killings and posted the video on social media after fleeing the scene.

Authorities identified the suspect as a journalist who had been fired from the station earlier this year. Hours later and hundreds of miles away, he crashed a vehicle and troopers found him suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He died at a hospital later Wednesday, authorities said.

The shots rang out on-air as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were presenting a local tourism story at an outdoor shopping mall. Viewers saw her scream and run, and she could be heard saying “Oh my God,” as she fell. Ward fell, too, and the camera he had been holding on his shoulder captured a fleeting image of the suspect holding a handgun.

WDBJ quickly switched back to the anchor at the station, her eyes large and jaw dropping as she said, “OK, not sure what happened there.” The station later went live again, reporting on their own station and staff as the story developed.

Parker and Ward were killed as the gunman fired about 15 shots. Their interview subject, Vicki Gardner, was in stable condition later Wednesday after surgery for her wounds.

The suspect was identified as Vester Lee Flanagan II, 41, of Roanoke, by the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office. Flanagan appeared on WDBJ as Bryce Williams.

Jeffrey Marks, WDBJ’s president and general manager, said Flanagan had to be escorted by police out of the station when he was fired. Marks described him as “an unhappy man” and “difficult to work with,” always “looking out for people to say things he could take offense to.”

“Eventually after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him. He did not take that well,” Marks explained.

Video posted hours after the shooting on Bryce Williams’ Twitter account and Facebook page showed an outstretched arm holding the handgun and firing repeatedly at Parker as she tried to run away.

The shooter appeared to walk up to the victims and stand a few feet away from them while holding the weapon. The three, in the midst of a live TV interview, do not seem to notice the gunman, who doesn’t start shooting until Ward points the camera at Parker.

Ward was engaged to a producer at the station, Melissa Ott, who was celebrating her last day on the job and was in the control room, watching it live, as the shooting unfolded, Marks said.

Tweets posted on Williams’ Twitter account Wednesday described workplace conflicts with both victims. They say Williams filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Parker, and that Ward had reported Williams to human resources.

Marks said Williams alleged that other employees made racially tinged comments to him, but said his EEOC claim was dismissed and none of his allegations could be corroborated.

“We think they were fabricated,” Marks said.

ABC News reported on its website that the network received a 23-page fax from someone claiming to be Williams. The network said the fax was turned over to authorities, and did not elaborate on its contents.

Both the victims were romantically involved with other employees at the station, according to Parker’s boyfriend, WDBJ anchor Chris Hurst. He wrote online that they hadn’t shared their relationship publicly but “were very much in love.” He said they had just moved in together and wanted to get married. “I am numb,” he said.

The shooting happened around 6:45 a.m. at Bridgewater Plaza in Franklin County, as Parker interviewed Gardner about the upcoming 50th anniversary festivities for Smith Mountain Lake, a local tourism destination.

Ward, 27, graduated from Virginia Tech and was engaged to a producer at the station, Melissa Ott, said WDBJ spokesman Mike Morgan.

“Adam was our go-to guy. He pretty much was available to do anything that we asked,” Morgan said. “He did live shots during our morning show for several years.”

Parker had just turned 24 and had joined the station as an intern after attending James Madison University, where she was the editor of the school’s newspaper, The Breeze. According to her Facebook page, Parker spent most of her life outside Martinsville, Virginia. She was an avid kayaker and attended community theater events in her spare time.

The station is based in Roanoke, Virginia, and serves the southwest and central part of the state. The shootings happened at a mall just off Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, about 25 miles southeast of Roanoke.


Gunman In French Train Attack Charged With Terrorism

August 26th, 2015

aekThe Moroccan suspect in a foiled attack on a high-speed train in France is facing terrorism charges over what authorities say was a plan to unleash carnage among hundreds of passengers — but his family defended him Wednesday, saying he was in a desperate situation.

The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed Wednesday that Ayoub El-Khazzani was charged overnight. El-Khazzani, 26, was overpowered by at least five passengers, including three Americans and a Briton, after trying to attack the train with a small arsenal. One person, a French-American who tried to seize an assault rifle from him, is hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

El-Khazzani has denied having terrorism plans, saying he stumbled on a bag of weapons and decided to use them to rob passengers.

His older brother, Imran, reached by French radio network RMC, also said the younger man had no links with terrorism.

“I swear to you before God that my brother has nothing to do with a terrorist. We are Muslims. We respect people,” the brother said. “He could have gone crazy. His life was without a doubt difficult. He didn’t have much money.”

His father, Mohamed, said Ayoub’s job in France ended after about a month and a half and he believed his son acted out of a need for money.

“If he had nothing to eat, he doubtless wanted to commit a theft,” his father told BFM television network.

But Paris prosecutor Francois Molins has said El-Khazzani watched a jihadi video on his cellphone moments before the attack and that — although he claimed to be homeless — he bought a first-class ticket. Molins said the suspect’s explanations became increasingly incoherent until he stopped speaking altogether to investigators.

Among the terrorism charges he faces are multiple counts of attempted murder, possession of weapons, and conspiracy.


Deri on the Opening of Yes Planet on Shabbos

August 26th, 2015

yesThe Moetzas Gedolei Hatorah of Agudas Yisrael is set to convene on Thursday, 12 Elul and the Eida Chareidis has been protesting following the opening of Yes Planet on Shabbos. Surprising some, Economy Minister (Shas) Aryeh Deri announced on Wednesday that he does not see the opening of Yes Planet as a violation of the religious status quo.

During a briefing with reporters, Deri was asked to comment on the opening of the entertainment center on Shabbos. “This is a small problem. The opening of the theater is not a violation of the status quo. Some feel that Deri’s ‘moderate’ tone with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat regarding chilul Shabbos in the capital undermines the efforts of Yahadut Hatorah.

Yahadut Hatorah on the national and local level is working aggressively against what it perceives to be spreading chilul Shabbos in the capital while Shas appears to be taking a back seat to those efforts.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Holocaust Survivors Join Elected Officials to Oppose Iran Deal; Express Concerns about Dangerous Deal in Front of Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s Office

August 26th, 2015

11Several Holocaust survivors joined New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, New York State Senator Simcha Felder, and New York State Senator Jesse Hamilton to oppose the Iran nuclear deal. The group of survivors chose to voice their concerns in front of Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s office, who represents the largest number of Holocaust survivors in the United States, and who announced support for the Iran deal last week.

Speakers included Shirley Feinbuch, who survived Auschwitz, and Jack Ratz, who survived the Gottendorf death camp. The survivors spoke about their experiences of going through “hell,” connecting it to Iran’s repeated threats to annihilate the United States and Israel and the regime’s rampant Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, and how they hoped the administration would not make the same mistakes. Their message was particularly relevant in light of remarks this week by an Iranian official who said that the Iran deal would not lead the regime to moderate its stance on Israel’s existence and that “Israel should be annihilated.”

The group voiced disappointment and outrage at their representative in Congress, Nadler, for his support of the deal, but hoped Nadler would change his mind. In addition to the speakers, Holocaust survivors at the event included Rose Friedman (Auschwitz survivor), Breiny Ginhorn (Auschwitz survivor), Ruth Solomon (Auschwitz survivor), Lenke Keller (Auschwitz survivor), and Leibish Daskal (Budapest forest).

Added Hikind, “The proposed deal with Iran is a serious predicament for the Jewish people. Holocaust survivors in particular know all too well the tyranny of dictators. Given their experiences in life, they are here to speak out about how concerned they are about this horrible deal. When someone publicly calls for destruction and death to Jews, you take them seriously. Leaders of Iran have repeatedly sworn to annihilate Israel and they even sponsor official state conferences denying the Holocaust.”

Hamilton stated, “Iran Nuclear Deal supporters focus on the early years. Well, what happens when Iran receives generous upfront sanctions relief? When tens of billions of dollars go to terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah or to groups who have plotted attacks in Buenos Aires, Berlin, Jerusalem, and Washington DC? And further down the line, this deal allows restrictions to phase out over time. I stand with my community in demanding a better deal: prevent sponsorship of terror, stop Iran menacing us and our allies, and don’t rely on trusting words from Iran to assure our security.”

Hikind and Hamilton will join NYC Councilman David G. Greenfield later in the evening at a rally urging their colleagues in Congress to oppose the deal with Iran. The rally will take place at 6 PM at the Jewish Children’s Museum at 792 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn. New York Representatives Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries, Nydia Velazquez, and Carolyn Maloney have yet to make a decision regarding the Iran deal. Recent polling indicates that a growing majority of Americans oppose the Iran deal. According to a CNN/ORC poll released on August 20, “56% of Americans now say they think Congress should reject the deal with Iran — up from 52% less than a month ago.”

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(YWN Desk -NYC)

BDE: Former Prisoner of Zion Mark Dimshitz

August 26th, 2015

candle914Former Prisoner of Zion Mark Dimshitz z”l was niftar at the age of 88. He was a Prisoner of Zion, a refusnik, one of the leading figures in the struggle of Soviet Jewry to immigrate to Israel.

Dimshitz, a Jewish pilot, was a leading player in 1970 hijacking conspiracy which became known as Operation Wedding. The 16 refusniks taking part planned to fly a plane from the USSR to the West on June 15, 1970. They hoped to escape the USSR and make their way to Israel. Their unsuccessful attempt brought international attention to the plight of Jews in the USSR and led to a reduction in aliyah restrictions.

The plot was organized and headed by Edward Kuznetsov. They planned to buy seats on a small civilian aircraft under the guise of traveling to a wedding.

Minister of Absorption Ze’ev Elkin mourned the death of the former activist, calling him “one of the heroes of Israel in our generation”. He added that it was symbolic that he was niftar on the year during which Israel marks the 25th anniversary of the big aliyah from the USSR.

The levaya is set to take place on Wednesday, 11 Elul. Details have not yet been announced.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

Today is Last Chance to Enter Tesla Raffle – Drawing Tonight

August 26th, 2015

CaptureWe all live on different budgets, and for most of us, a Tesla vehicle is a luxury that hasn’t even made it close to our wish lists. But for some among us, the same can be said about new clothing or shoes. Or chicken for Shabbos. Or even paying the gas bill.

The creative fundraisers at The Chicago Chesed Fund have stepped in to address the latter need, and as a result, you may just be able to add a Tesla to your wish list! The cost of the car has  been sponsored by and all proceeds will go directly to the chesed fund.

The Chicago Chesed Fund has provided much needed financial relief to Jewish families in crisis since 1987. Today, more than 30 programs and services provide vital assistance to over 4,000 individuals annually. While the organization’s original budget was $100,000, unfortunately the amount of families in need of immediate help has risen dramatically, and today the budget is at over $4 million! They desperately need our help!

To reach out to the broader community, the organization came up with the ingenious idea of raffling off a Tesla Model S 60 KWH. The much-coveted all-electric luxury sedan is valued at $80,000, with the option to customize at the winner’s expense. The drawing will be held on Labor Day. But there’s a catch: A maximum of 3,999 tickets will be sold, so your chances of winning are increased! Which also means YOU HAD BETTER ENTER NOW! TIME IS RUNNING OUT AND SO ARE TICKETS!

The more tickets bought, the better your chances of winning. Interested participants can find out more information or enter on this page.

Joining the raffle gives you the chance to own a dream car, but more importantly, it earns you a share in the foundation’s vital mission: to help local families in need with discretion, dignity, and respect.