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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Palestinians Gear For Sunday March On Israel’s Borders

Fatah representative in Lebanon, Munir Maqdah, said Tuesday that Palestinians residing in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Gaza were planning to march towards their respective borders with Israel on Sunday, the 44th anniversary of the Six Day War.

“We want our lands in Palestine back,” Maqdah said, noting that the processions aim to remain non-violent. He also urged UNIFIL forces in south Lebanon to “ensure the march’s safety.”

The Fatah official’s statement is the last in a myriad of activities calling on pro-Palestinian activists to march on Israel’s borders.

The highest flurry of activities is noted on Facebook, where various pro-Palestinian group have issued a similar call: “Our Palestinian countrymen, as part of our just pursuit of statehood… and in response to Netanyahu’s speech in Congress and Obama’s hesitant speech, we emphasize that Palestine is our land and the land of our forefathers and that will not accept any division or compromise.

“On this day, June 5, we urge you to take active part in actions meant to empathize with our prisoners,” the “Youth of June 5″ page read.

Facebook pages affiliated with Syrian pro-Palestinian groups, called on the masses to “unite and turn June 5 into a day commemorating the fallen and right of return.”

Another group urges masses to “march on Israel’s border this Saturday and free the Golan Heights.”

Still, at this time no concrete plans for any march have been posted on social media websites.

Rabbi Josh Pruzansky Leaves Agudah, Joins OU

Rabbi Josh Pruzansky has departed from his position with Agudath Israel of New Jersey and has been appointed as Regional Director of Public Policy (NJ) at the Institute for Public Affairs (IPA), the public policy arm of the Orthodox Union (OU).

This position will have Rabbi Pruzansky advocating on behalf of the New Jersey Jewish community in Trenton on a wide array of public policy issues, with a particular focus on initiatives aimed at reducing the financial strain that yeshivos, day schools and families face in educating our community’s children.

Rabbi Pruzansky will work with Mr. Howie Beigelman, who has done extensive work in New Jersey during the past few years, and with his colleagues at Agudath Israel who afforded him the opportunity to work on their behalf from 2008 to 2011.

Rabbi Pruzansky thanked Dr. Simcha Katz, president of the OU; Rabbi Steven Weil, executive vice-president of the OU; Yehuda Neuberger, chairman of the OU/IPA, and Nathan Diament, director of the OU/IPA, for offering him this position.

Gov. Christie arrives at son's high school baseball game in State Police helicopter

N.J. State Police: Gov. Christie's Helicopter Rides Don't Burden Taxpayers:

Gov. Chris Christie arrived at his son's baseball game this afternoon aboard a State Police helicopter.

Right before the lineup cards were being exchanged on the field, a noise from above distracted the spectators as the 55-foot long helicopter buzzed over trees in left field, circled the outfield and landed in an adjacent football field. Christie disembarked from the helicopter and got into a black car with tinted windows that drove him about a 100 yards to the baseball field.

During the 5th inning, Christie and First Lady Mary Pat Christie got into the car, rode back to the helicopter and left the game. During a pitching change, play was stopped for a couple of minutes while the helicopter took off.

Christie's eldest son, Andrew, was the starting catcher for Delbarton High School, in Morris Township. The governor played the same position of catcher when he was in high school.

The game was being held at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale in Bergen County. Christie watched the game from the stands, flanked by State Police security guards.

"It is a means of transportation that is occasionally used as the schedule demands," said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak in an email. "This has historically been the case in prior administrations as well, and we continue to be judicious in limiting its use."

The governor had no public events on his schedule, offering no insight to where he might have been traveling from. He had a private meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Drumthwacket, the governor's mansion, in Princeton. He is meeting with a group of Iowa donors who have publically expressed a desire to persuade him to run for president in 2012.

Christie was ferried to the field in a brand-new AugustaWestland helicopter, purchased at a cost to taxpayers of $12.5 million.

The State Police has received two of the five helicopters purchased so far, according to testimony from Attorney General Paula Dow during a May budget hearing. They were purchased to replace aging Sikorsky helicopters that the State Police have flown for about two decades.

The helicopters, which can reach nearly 200 miles per hour with its twin turbo-shaft engines, are designed for homeland security duties and transporting critically injured patients.

'Limousine Liberals' Report Shows Government Limo Fleet Swelling

President Obama's motorcade travels along the Mall as it leaves Buckingham Palace to go to Downing Street in central London May 25

Obama administration officials are riding in style.

A new report from a watchdog group shows that the number of limousines owned by the federal government rose by 73 percent during the first two years of President Obama's administration. The State Department was the recipient of most the new luxury vehicles.

The "Limousine Liberals?" report from iWatch News, part of the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity, showed that government data pegged the number of limos in the federal fleet at 412 in fiscal 2010, up from 238 in fiscal 2008.

Some of the details are a bit hazy. Most of the new limos were obtained in fiscal 2009, which covered the very end of George W. Bush's term and the first eight months of Obama's -- so the Bush administration could have initiated some of the purchases.

The General Services Administration, which keeps the data, also told iWatch News that its "limousine" category refers to a range of vehicles, including sedans.

But that doesn't mean the government is buying jalopies. The State Department said its vehicle of choice was the Cadillac DTS. The department told iWatch News the vehicles are mainly used by diplomats overseas and "distinguished foreign visitors" in the United States.

Israeli convicted of murder arrested in Thailand 11 years after escape from prison

Israeli and Thai police found Ben David Levy, 41, in Bangkok living with his Thai wife and two children; he fled Israel in 2000, seven years after he was convicted of robbery and double murder.

An Israeli man convicted of robbery and a double murder was arrested in Thailand on Tuesday, 11 years after he disappeared from Israeli prison.

Levy Ben-David, 41, was convicted in Israel in 1993 of robbing a jewelry shop and killing the two owners, Danielle and Jacob Himler in Antwerp, Belgium.

Following the murders in 1992, Ben-David fled to Israel with his partners, Israeli citizen Guy Gogeshvili and Belgian citizen Lilian Shterer. The three were subsequently arrested and tried in Israel.

Ben-David was sentenced to two life sentences. He served seven years of his sentence, and in September 2000, during a short vacation from prison, he fled to Thailand, apparently using a fake passport.

He was arrested on Tuesday in an apartment room in Bangkok's Din Daeng district following a joint investigation by Thai police and Asian Pacific Region's Israeli police.

Thai daily The Nation reported that Ben-David had apparently used a fake passport of Maldives nationality under the name of Dmitry Milev to enter Thailand at the time.

Ben-David has since married a Thai woman and has two children.

The Israeli Embassy in Thailand was also involved in the arrest. Ben-David is expected to be extradited back to Israel shortly.

Security professionals learn to go native

Special: Arab Spring unrest boosts demand in Middle East for personal protection

It looked as if someone had broken into the central casting wardrobe room and handed out the jalabiyas and kaffiyyehs marked “Arab sheiks” to the two dozen unshaven men lounging on a grassy knoll, puffing on water pipes and looking bored. A large, blue United Nations flag flutters in the wind.

Suddenly, a group of young men, faces hidden by masks, rushes into the compound shouting Allahu akbar and the shooting begins. Out from under the robes of the “sheiks” come automatic weapons, as they spring into action. One man, a suicide belt strapped to his body, moves forward, his hands clenching two grenades. Two of the men in robes fly at him and wrestle him to the ground, knees in back, as they disarmed him.

It looks like a scene from a low-budget action film, complete with smoke grenades and onlookers slipping into the frame like loose boom microphones. But it’s the final drill in a week-long course for protection specialists learning how to behave in the high-risk Middle East environment. The participants were reenacting a real incident at a UN installation not long ago, except that it was staged near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip.

“When you neutralize a suicide bomber, you don’t need to kill them. You don’t need to give him a bullet if he is still alive and, anyhow if you have to give him the bullet, it has to be in the right place because otherwise you might hit the explosives,” explains instructor Mirza David.

With unrest in the Arab world now in its sixth month and no end in sight, there’s growing demand for personal security experts from government officials and businesspeople. Over two dozen people came to Israel to learn from former members of the country’s secret services. They got instruction not only how to carry a weapon and disarm an attacker but how to look and act like a local.

Don’t call them bodyguards

“It’s a protection counter-terrorism specialist and, no, we don’t do body guarding. We do guard VIPs, but that is just one aspect. A small, small aspect to what we do. It can go all the way from guarding convoys in the Middle East to guarding an actor or actress in Hollywood. It’s very broad,” says Daniel Hout, an American currently working in Afghanistan.

Mirza David, chief executive officer of the International Security Academy (ISA), the company running the course, believes the chaos will last “more than a decade.” In the meantime, countries need to keep their governments and economies functioning, which requires experts such as business people, engineers and policy makers to be there on the ground.

“Without protection specialists, nobody will enter,” David says. “You cannot improve the economy in a developing area if nobody is protecting you.”

Israel’s unique experience

On this training base run by ISA, they are tapping into Israel’s unique experience in dealing with these threats and learning counter-terrorism techniques like convoy and VIP protection. The week-long course on familiarization with the Arab-Islamic world was preceded by three weeks of armed and unarmed tactical response training.

While learning how to look and act like an Arab, the students have gone unshaven and dress the part. They even were taken on a ride on the desert “Ferrari,” a grunting camel, and learned rudimental Arabic phrases that will allow them to do their job.

David, a chunky, gregarious former high-ranking Israeli security officer, struts into the Bedouin tent and says in his booming voice: “Repeat after me, ‘Amn al-ard.’”

The crowd of mostly Europeans with a smattering of Africans and Asians reply, “Amn al-ard.” It’s the Arabic for “security on the ground.

“You repeat this to let people know you are there when you secure an area,” David says.

Out here, far away from prying eyes, ISA instructors teach Israeli tactics. It is based on an aggressive philosophy, one that requires you first neutralize the threat and then evacuate the VIP.

With this kind of audience, representatives of Israel Military Industries (IMI), the state-owned weapons manufacturer, couldn’t pass up the chance at making a sales pitch. Tossing about the micro-Uzis and Tavor assault rifles of various sizes, he demonstrated their lethality and offered them loaded to students to pop off a few rounds.

Some of these men already work as close-protection bodyguards for the world’s leaders or leading business people.

Feti Fanaj, 31, a former bodyguard for Albania’s prime minister, says he sought out expertise for his new security business and was drawn to the course due to Israel’s reputation.

“We have Albanian investors working in Iraq and Afghanistan. The idea of close protection in high-risk zones makes them feel confident with us,” Fanaj says.

“Some of those dictatorial governments have fallen very recently, and that’s going to create new chaos and confusion in the market and is also going to create some instability in the market so I think there will be more incidents of terrorist attacks and such,” says Venky Raman, CEO of Singapore-based Homeland Security and Defense, who also taking the course.

‘We aren’t mercenaries’

Their background is diverse, from police to military, even a former French Legionnaire. They will go on to work for governments and private security contractors. Julian Douet, 37, an Austrian who was born and raised in Lebanon, says he left his family’s restaurant business to answer a calling.

“For this profession, you have to do it with heart and soul and the body for sure. It’s an instinct which had lay dormant inside me. I needed someone to wake it up and they did it,” Douet says.

Multilingual, Douet is confident his meager resume isn’t going to prevent him from getting a job.

“There are a lot of European businesspeople and they would like to come and continue their business in the Middle East. Now it’s impossible to go alone and that’s why they need our protection,” he says.

Hyacinth Turnoe, a bodyguard for Nigeria’s minister of commerce, says he’s anxious to share what he learned with his colleagues back home.

“Israel has brought a standard of training that everyone in the world will have to emulate. I will take what I learned from Israel and impact on my fellow colleagues to make them perfect,” Turnoe says.

It’s an expensive program, costing upwards of 2,000 euros a week. But this can be a lucrative profession earning thousands of euros a day. Just don’t call them mercenaries.

“This has nothing to do with soldiers of fortune. We aren’t mercenaries, nothing like that. We are here to protect against global terror, from sea to sea and from country to country. This is what we are here for,” says the American Hout.

But David sees the connection, even if he disagrees with the semantics.

“Yes, this is a profession that has existed for thousands of years. Once it was called a musketeer, or a samurai. Today, it‘s a modern protection and counter-terrorism specialist,” he says. “Those who call these guys mercenaries really don’t appreciate the risk these people are taking in order to protect their interests in this world.”

NYC DOT To Remove Borough Park Traffic Islands

Lawmaker, Business Owners, Residents Win Long Battle Against City Hall

NEW YORK - There has been a rare change of heart from the beleaguered New York City Department of Transportation.

The Borough Park traffic islands that CBS 2 first told you about six months ago, the ones that caused such chaos, are apparently going to be removed, Marcia Kramer reports exclusively.

When CBS 2 first aired this story last November you saw Ladder 114 having trouble rushing to a fire in Borough Park. It ran smack dab into cement traffic islands installed by the DOT.

A back-up caused by the traffic island forced an ambulance to pull into oncoming traffic to swerve around the barricade and the problems of ambulances trying to reach the Maimonides Hospital emergency room down the block continue to this very day.

But apparently not for very much longer.

“It takes a lot of guts to recognize that maybe we could have done it differently, maybe we shouldn’t have done it, so I have to applaud the commissioner for seriously looking at this,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind said.

In a rare change of heart, Commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Khan has, sources say, agreed to remove the offending barricades. The move will head off a threatened suit by Assemblyman Hikind, who had gathered petitions from more than 1,000 constituents.

“The message was a very clear one: remove the islands; they jeopardize people in the community,” Hikind said.

It’s a big step for the agency to take. Just last week it installed new trees on the islands and the barricades themselves were costly. Those trees will now have to be uprooted.

“They actually spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to do this,” Hikind said.

Local businesses and residents are thrilled at the change of heart.

“It caused a lot of chaos with the ambulances going to the hospital,” said Jimmy Giapoutzif, adding when asked what his reaction will be when he sees bulldozers come up the block, “We’ll be celebrating.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it — as long as it’s not some political dodge,” Borough Park worker Dov Schechter said.

Officially, the only thing transportation officials would say is that they are considering making “improvements” to the area. But Assemblyman Hikind said this is an example of how you can fight City Hall.

Sources tell Kramer the DOT is expected to reveal its plans to remove the barricades at the end of next month.

Beauty queen Katya Koren stoned to death by Muslims for being in pageant

A would-be teen beauty queen was stoned to death after her participation in a Ukranian pageant reportedly infuriated local Muslim youths.

Katya Koren, 19, was targeted by three fellow teens who said her seventh-place finish in the beauty contest was a violation of Muslim laws, according to British newspaper reports.

One of the suspects, identified as 16-year-old Bihal Gaziev, told authorities that he had no regrets about the stoning because the dark-haired Koren "violated the laws of Sharia."

The teen's battered body was found buried in the forest near her village in the Crimea section of the Ukraine. She had disappeared a week earlier.

Koren, described by friends as a stylish dresser, finished seventh in the beauty pageant. The British newspapers said the girl, just like her attackers, was a Muslim.

Stoning became a major international issue last year when an Iranian woman was sentenced to die by the barbaric method after her conviction for adultery.

The woman had killed her abusive, drug-addicted husband - and was sentenced to serve 10 years for the killing. The adultery charge carried the death penalty.

But the woman's life was spared after an international appeal for mercy, including a request from the Vatican for clemency.

Crime boss 'Vinny Gorgeous' refuses to answer judge on whether he'll testify in sentencing hearing

Yes or no, Vinny Gorgeous - will you testify?

That's the simple question that led to a 40-minute standoff Tuesday between crime boss Vincent Basciano and a federal judge in a hearing that will determine whether he'll be executed.

Federal prosecutors, defense lawyers and courtroom spectators sat in silence while Basciano repeatedly ignored Judge Nicholas Garaufis' demands.

"Do you have a single, noncompound sentence answer...Just a 'yes' or 'no?'" Garaufis asked.

Instead, Basciano, convicted last week of ordering a mobster's murder, launched into a bizarre rant claiming that feds had withheld evidence about a purported "hit list" he scribbled in prison.

On the list was the judge's name, a prosecutor, and three cooperating witnesses.

Basciano claims the list was a Santeria spell intended to protect him from enemies.

Defense lawyers, who had just rested their case in the penalty phase of the trial, appeared to distance themselves from Basciano's 11th-hour demands for evidence, urging him to comply.

"I know Miss (prosecutor Taryn) Merkl would relish the fact of cross-examining me," Basciano bellowed. "It's ludicrous and I'll say it in front of the media, I'll say it to the attorney general, I can't properly defend myself!"

The jury convicted Basciano last week in Brooklyn Federal Court of capital murder for ordering the killing of mob associate Randolph Pizzolo.

They will begin deliberating Wednesday whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison.

Finally the judge's 4 p.m. deadline passed with Basciano's lips still zipped. Garaufis ruled that he had waived his right to take the stand. Basciano winked at his family as he left the courtroom.

Basciano refused to allow his ex-wife or four sons to testify that his life has value - instead he called a hair colorist from his beauty salon "Hello Gorgeous" where his mistress also worked.

Damarys Mojica tearfully recounted that Basciano loaned her money after her mentally ill son attempted suicide and was admitted to a private hospital in Westchester.

"Vinny saved my son's life," she cried.

Outside court, Mojica refused to say how much Basciano gave her and whether the loan was repaid. "It doesn't matter," she snapped. "He shouldn't die."

Her husband, refusing to give his name, said the loan was "a couple thousand."

Jetpack invention reaches 5,000ft as futuristic transport gets ever-closer to commercial use

Travelling by jetpack used to be something only seen in science fiction.
But the first commercial suit could soon be on sale following another successful step on the flight towards production.

Over the weekend, a team of New Zealand inventors behind the Martin rocketman suit conducted a test flight that saw them soar to 5,000 feet.

In the test, carried out over the Canterbury region of the country, a dummy took the place of a passenger as it was flown by remote control from a helicopter.

And in another first, the suit then descended to 2,000 feet before deploying a parachute and landing, albeit with rather a large bump.

The flight lasted around ten minutes, making it the longest ever recorded.
The successful test brings the reality of flight by jetpack another step closer after 40 years of development by inventor Glenn Martin.

Mr Martin has spent NZ$12million on the venture, but now hopes to bring in more investment and possibly even start mass production.

This weekend's flight follows on from a test which took place in April that saw the invention reach 100ft and fly for seven minutes.

Following the test Mr Martin said: 'This successful test brings the future another step closer.

'We limited the jetpack to 800ft/min climb so the chase helicopters could keep up.

The company has reported that it will now enter another period of intensive testing period to refine technology and performance over extended and continuous hours of operation.

In the past two years we've gone from unveiling a world leading invention to a company on the verge of international commercialisation of both the manned and unmanned versions of the jetpack.,' Martin Aircraft chief executive Richard Lauder said.

The jetpack was original unveiled at a U.S. airshow in 2008, when the aircraft did not go higher than 6ft - an arm's reach from a watchful ground crew - or fly for longer than 45 seconds.

Given the success of the trial, the first ‘jet-ski in the sky’ could now be dispatched for solo flights by the end of the year at a price of around £50,000 ($75,000) per machine.

Designed to be the ‘simplest aircraft in the world’ the Martin Jetpack will be a breeze to fly, according to Mr Martin.

He said: ‘You just strap it on and rev the nuts out of it and it lifts you up off the ground.

‘It’s just basic physics. As Newton said, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So when you shoot lots of air down very fast you go up and you're flying.

Mr Martin says 2,500 people have already signed up for to buy the jetpack, with inquiries coming from Middle Eastern royalty and U.S. millionaires.

The two-litre 200-horsepower gasoline engine powers two ducted fans that can soar across the skies at 60mph at heights of up to 160ft.

The jetpack, which produces up to 6000rpm (revolutions per minute), carries enough fuel to fly for 30 minutes.

The invention’s deployment is likely to be as a ground-breaking defence tool with the U.S. military, which first tested jetpacks in the 1960s, and U.S. border control the first organisations to take delivery of the device.

Mr Martin, a 50-year-old father of two, sees the military version of the jetpack being used in hard-to-access areas, war zones to patrol borders and, if unmanned, to make difficult deliveries by remote control.

It could also be used in counter terrorism operations, as an airborne missile platform and mobile surveillance unit.

The New Zealander created the Martin Aircraft Company in 1998 specifically to develop a jetpack that could fly 100 times longer than the 28 seconds of its predecessor, the Bell Rocket Belt.

The Bell Rocket Belt was made famous by presentations at Disneyland, the 1984 Summer Olympics and an appearance in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball.

The belt could carry a man over 30ft-high obstacles and reached speeds of up to 10mph but its limited flying time of just 20-30 seconds and huge fuel consumption at $2,000 per flight made the device impractical and uneconomical.

By contrast, the Canterbury company’s latest jetpack costs just 15 cents for around 20 seconds of air-time.

The jetpack will be fitted with electronic stabilisers and computer aided flight controls while a roll cage and ballistic parachute system will also come as standard.

The engine, fuel tank and pilot are positioned between and below the lift-fans to lower the centre of gravity and prevent the machine turning upside down.

While the tests are a huge advancement in bringing the device to the shelves, it is still unclear how aviation authorities will treat the jetpack.

Weighing just 250lbs, users in many European countries, including Britain, should not need to be licensed. However, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is still considering an official response.

Either way, Martin Aircraft Company said any attempt to fly the jetpack without professional instruction would be ‘extremely foolhardy’.

The company will require all owners to undertake an approved training programme before flying the aircraft with personal users taking delivery in around 18 months.

Vienna - Austria: Nazi Tattoo Leads To Resignation

Vienna - A member of an Austrian municipal council has resigned amid an uproar over his Nazi tattoo.

Gerry Leitmann made headlines recently after it was revealed that the Hitler Youth slogan “blood and honor” is etched on one of this arms.

Leitmann says in a letter dated Monday and made public Tuesday that he is resigning from the municipal council in Ebenthal, southern Austria, with deep regret. He claims he did not know about the “historic connections” associated with the wording of the tattoo and will have it removed it immediately.

Leitmann’s resignation late Monday came as the Austrian town of Waidhofen an der Ybbs revoked the granting of honorary citizenship to Adolf Hitler.

Shechem - AP Report: Kever Yosef HaTzadik Emerges as Israeli Palestinian Friction Point

Shechem - A modest stone building holy to Jews in the midst of this Arab city is becoming an increasingly volatile friction point, drawing growing numbers of pilgrims on nighttime prayer visits, unnerving Palestinian residents and putting Israel’s military into conflict with some of the worshippers it is meant to protect.

The monthly trips by religious Jews to this largely hostile city, coordinated with Palestinian security forces, emphasize the complexity of the Holy Land’s religious landscape and the sometimes deadly intersection of the sacred and the political.

Just after midnight Monday, convoys of buses carrying 1,600 Jewish worshippers began driving into Nablus in waves for prayers at Joseph’s Tomb. Escorted by olive-drab army jeeps and dozens of ground troops, it was the biggest group to reach the site since the military began regularly allowing visits four years ago.

The lead bus was crammed to perhaps twice its capacity with ultra-Orthodox Jews in long black coats, settler teens in jeans and T-shirts, and girls in long skirts. There was an air of anticipation and, as time wore on, a sour smell of perspiration.

When the buses finally moved into Nablus, Israeli soldiers in battle gear were visible securing the route, standing by closed shops and clumped beside a Bank of Palestine ATM.

Organizers, members of the hard core of Israel’s settlement movement, see the visits to the traditional gravesite of the biblical Joseph as a mix of religious duty, assertion of ownership and show of force. For many observant Jews, Nablus is part of the biblical land promised to the Jews by God.

“These are our roots,” said Gilad Levanon, a 22-year-old Jewish seminary student, who was among the worshippers this week. “We have a strong belief that this is our role in this world — to continue the path of our fathers, despite momentary interference.”

Palestinians view them as a provocation and an attempt by Israeli extremists to create a political foothold inside their city, which is one of the main autonomous zones established by the interim peace accords of the 1990s. The Palestinians hope to make the entire West Bank, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, part of a future independent state.

“If a believer wants to worship God, he can do that from any place,” said Zuheir Dubei, 58, a mosque preacher in Nablus, “not only from a place like Joseph’s Tomb where blood can be shed.”

There are always more would-be worshippers than places on the buses, and people often spend months on a waiting list, said David Haivry, a settler spokesman and convoy organizer.

Some worshippers, including about 200 young men on Monday, have made a point of sneaking into Nablus without permission, forcing the army to play a game of nocturnal cat-and-mouse with them in the fields around the city. Last month, a 25-year-old Israeli man traveled to the tomb without permission and was killed by a Palestinian policeman.

In coordination with the military, Palestinian security forces are pulled off the streets when the worshippers go in to avoid clashes with the Israelis, and the streets were empty when the first buses arrived. The only explicit sign that the city of 125,000 was inhabited came in the form of a lone rock that slammed into the side of the lead bus as it passed a row of homes.

The first to leap out when the bus pulled up outside the domed tomb was a young man with red sidelocks who wore the long black gabardine of the Bratslav Hasidic sect. He sprinted for the tomb, joined by streams of worshippers who poured out of the buses, ran through the gate and pressed ecstatically into the small room that houses the grave marker to chant psalms. Hebrew graffiti on one wall read, “Joseph lives.”

Some visitors openly lamented the fact that they could not freely access the tomb whenever they pleased. “We’re still coming at night, like dogs,” one bearded man said.

The tomb area assumed an air of anarchic festivity as the center of a silent Palestinian neighborhood, between a girls’ school and a shuttered candy kiosk, became the temporary domain of the Israeli religious right: a crush of black-clad men singing Hebrew songs, middle-aged women, cigarette-smoking youths and teenage girls in Ugg boots.

One man dressed entirely in white banged a drum, stopping just long enough to blow a shofar, a traditional ram’s horn. There were the velvet skullcaps and black hats of the ultra-Orthodox, the enormous knitted skullcaps of settler hard-liners, and the berets and helmets of heavily armed soldiers.

A nighttime observer might not recognize the tomb area in daylight.

On a morning earlier this month, the tomb was empty, guarded by two sleepy Palestinian policemen in a pickup truck. The sound of children was audible from the school, and Raji Barah, 43, was selling candy and drinks from his kiosk.

Barah said he had been questioned by Israeli soldiers after the Jewish worshipper’s death two weeks earlier.

“They said, ‘Did you see the one who fired?’ I said, ‘I didn’t see anything,’” Barah said.

Nablus was a militant hotbed in the years of the Palestinian uprising last decade. The city’s Palestinians and the residents of nearby settlements, considered hard-line even by many other settlers, view each other with deep animosity.

To secure the Jewish worshippers, the military takes up positions in nearby buildings.

Sahar Mussa, 38, lives on the top floor of an apartment building overlooking the tomb, making it both a potential threat to the worshippers and a useful position for troops, who typically take it over before the buses come in, she said.

The soldiers usually arrive before midnight, move Mussa, her husband and her children into one room and take up posts at the windows until the last worshippers leave, she said.

“They wake us up, pick a place and say, ‘Sit here,’” she said. Her door bore circular indentations where she said soldiers pounded with the muzzles of their weapons. The army said it uses “external lookout points,” such as rooftops, but does not take over people’s homes.

The authenticity of Joseph’s Tomb is a matter of debate, though the identification with Joseph is many centuries old. Some local Palestinians say the building was a mosque, or the tomb of a sheik. But that means little to the Jewish worshippers who revere the site.

Israel had a permanent presence at Joseph’s Tomb until the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, when troops were pulled out after deadly fighting. Palestinians then burned the building.

In 2007, with violence largely subsided and ties improving with Palestinian security forces, the Israeli military began escorting Jews in to pray at the site, where the Oslo peace agreements of the 1990s stated that Jews would have unimpeded access.

Worshippers get about half an hour at the tomb before organizers hurry them out to allow the next buses in. The convoys continue until just before dawn, when all Israeli forces are supposed to be out of the city.

On Monday, hundreds of Israelis who could not find room on the buses defied the army and made their way on foot. Groups of youths in the black suits of religious seminary students were visible around 3 a.m. on West Bank roads, appearing ghostly in the headlights of a passing car.

Fifty worshippers refused to leave the tomb when dawn broke, and with Palestinian residents waking up, the soldiers guarding the worshippers had to forcibly evict them. The military condemned their “irresponsible behavior” and said they had endangered the troops.

Not long afterward, the last Israelis had left. The tomb was quiet, and Nablus reverted to Palestinian control.

Avigdor Lieberman made millions in illegal business deals

Foreign Minister suspected of concealing enterprises from relevant authorities, first and foremost from the state comptroller, during his tenure as infrastructure minister.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman set up a company in the Virgin Islands in 2001, while he was serving as infrastructure minister, according to new details of the draft indictment against him that have been obtained by Haaretz.

The draft accuses Lieberman of continuing to run a worldwide business enterprise that brought in millions, including from people with business interests in Israel, while he was serving as a minister and Knesset member. He also allegedly concealed this enterprise from the relevant authorities, first and foremost the state comptroller.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will hold a hearing for Lieberman in the coming months, after which he will make a final decision on whether to indict. Lieberman recently beefed up his legal team in preparation, hiring attorneys Yaron Kosteliz and Giora Adereth.

The tentative charges include fraud, breach of trust, aggravated fraud, money laundering and witness tampering.

Prosecutors are also considering indicting Lieberman's daughter Michal, his long-time attorney Yoav Many and his aide, Sharon Shalom. Many is suspected of fraud, breach of trust and aggravated fraud, while Shalom and Michal Lieberman are suspected of money laundering and abetting fraud and breach of trust.

In late 1997, Lieberman resigned as director general of the Prime Minister's Office and began a business career. He set up two companies - Nativ el Hamizrach ("Path to the East" ) in Israel and a similarly named firm in Cyprus - whose activities included commerce in wood in various countries, including Israel.

In 1999, he was elected to the Knesset. But hundreds of thousands of dollars continued to flow into his companies from various businessmen, including those with interests in Israel. In 2000, for instance, the Cypriot firm received $100,000 from an Austrian company owned by Martin Schlaff - who, inter alia, was part owner of the Jericho casino - and $500,000 from Schlaff's partner, Austrian businessman Robert Nowikovsky. The latter also posted a $1 million bank guarantee for Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party in 1999.

In 2001, Schlaff paid $650,000 to the Cypriot company. In March of that year, Lieberman became infrastructure minister in Ariel Sharon's government.

Shortly thereafter, he reported to the State Comptroller's Office that he had sold the Cypriot company to a close friend, businessman Joseph Schuldiner of Antwerp, for $610,000. (Schuldiner died in 2006. ) But prosecutors say this sale was fictitious, and in reality, Lieberman continued to control the company.

Lieberman also informed the comptroller that he had sold another Cypriot company, Mountain View, one day after his appointment. But this sale, too, was fictitious, prosecutors say: The new owner was merely a front for Lieberman's continued control.

In May 2001, a company controlled by Israeli businessman Michael Chernoy, a close friend of Lieberman's, paid $500,000 to Mountain View. Prosecutors say Lieberman then used his government posts to try to restore Chernoy's Israeli passport, which he had been stripped of in 1999, and to assist him in other personal matters.

Officially, Chernoy lost his passport because he hadn't been in Israel long enough to have one. But police were also investigating suspicions that he lied on his immigration application by concealing his involvement in various serious crimes - suspicions that led the Interior Ministry to announce in 2004 that it was might strip him of citizenship altogether.

Ultimately, Chernoy got his passport back - for one year only - by petitioning the High Court of Justice in 2007. The Interior Ministry has since repeatedly renewed it.

Even as Lieberman reported having sold his Cypriot companies in 2001, he and Many were setting up a new company, named Mayflower Capital Premier, in the Virgin Islands that same year. To conceal Lieberman's absolute control over the company, prosecutors say, it was registered as being held in trust by another firm controlled by Lieberman's former driver and close associate, Igor Schneider.

In 2002-08, the company's revenues exceeded $6 million. During most of that time, Lieberman held various public positions.

In July 2003, while Lieberman was serving as transportation minister in Sharon's government, Mayflower received $500,000 from a firm controlled by Lieberman's friend Dan Gertler, an Israeli diamond merchant based in Congo. The money was said to be payment for mediating a sale of sugar. In reality, prosecutors say, it was made for other purposes entirely, though the draft doesn't specify what.

That same summer, Mayflower was paid $3.5 million for a single transaction. A few days later, it paid out $2.5 million to another Virgin Islands company then owned by Lieberman's friend Schuldiner - the man to whom he sold the Cypriot company in 2001.

In 2007, while Lieberman was strategic affairs minister, Mayflower received several payments totaling $230,000 from a company controlled by another Lieberman friend, Moldovan Jewish businessman Daniel Gittenstein. A year later, it received $455,000 from another company controlled by Gittenstein.

From July 2004 to April 2006, Lieberman was out of the Knesset and back in business. During that time, his daughter Michal set up the company M.L. Lieberman. She and Lieberman's aide, Sharon Shalom, were the signatories on its bank account; they also signed documents listing the company as the account's sole beneficiary and themselves as the firm's owners. In reality, prosecutors say, Lieberman controlled the company and benefited from the millions it earned even after he returned to the Knesset and cabinet.

Until early 2008, including during the period when Lieberman was an MK and strategic affairs minister, M.L. Lieberman received monthly payments of $65,000 from another company controlled by Gittenstein. These payments were listed as consultancy fees, but prosecutors, again without elaborating, say they were no such thing.

Altogether, M.L. Lieberman had revenues of $2.8 million, including over $1 million earned while Lieberman was in government. Prosecutors say most of this money went to Lieberman himself, funding his expenses, a secretary and driver, security and trips overseas during the almost two years he spent working for the company.

Police began investigating Lieberman's business activities in 2006. One person they questioned was Andy Boiangiu, who served as CEO of Nativ el Hamizrach in 1998-2001.

In 2007, prosecutors say, Lieberman asked the company's secretary, Yelena Weinstein, to set up a meeting for herself with Boiangiu while concealing the fact that Lieberman was behind it. Lieberman then allegedly came to the meeting in Weinstein's place and discussed the police investigation with him - which prosecutors say constituted witness tampering.

In 2008, then-ambassador to Belarus Ze'ev Ben Aryeh allegedly told Lieberman about a police request to the Belarusian authorities for information on one of Lieberman's alleged companies. The following year, Lieberman, now foreign minister, made Ben Aryeh his diplomatic adviser.

Lieberman's media adviser, Tzachi Moshe, responded: "We believe that after he hears Minister Lieberman's positions, the attorney general will decide there are no grounds for indicting Minister Lieberman. The only suitable and proper place for addressing these allegations is naturally before the attorney general, not in the media. We will only say we believe that just as the suspicions of bribery were dropped, the same will happen with the rest of the suspicions raised against Minister Lieberman over the last 15 years."

שוב: פשקווילים במאה שערים נגד 'אור החיים'

"חנות 'אור החיים סנטר' מטמא נפש בנינו ובנותינו", כך נכתב בפשקווילים שהופצו השבוע בירושלים. בפשקוויל, מובא בהרחבה סיפורו של הילד א.פ. בן ה-12, שחזר באחד הימים בשעה 21:00 לביתו, לאחר ששהה בחנות 'אור החיים סנטר', יחד עם חברו וקראו ספרים. "יש שם הרבה ספרים טובים לקרוא", מצוטט הילד

המאבק נגד חנות הספרים 'אור החיים סנטר' בשכונת מאה שערים, עולה ויורד, בהתאם לרמת המובטלות של קבוצת הסיקריקים. כעת, הוא מתחדש שוב, בעם הפצת פשקווילים חדשים ברחובות השכונה.

תחת הכותרת "הזדעזעי ירושלים", מופץ פשקוויל נגד חנות הספרים המפיצה לטענת הנלחמים בחנות, "הרבה ספרי כפירה ומינות, וכן ספרי נבלה רח"ל". לטענת המתנגדים לחנות הספרים, היא מבאה לשכונה "הרבה פריצות, ולאחרונה הובאו לאוזני העסקנים כמה וכמה סיפורים מזעזעים ומחרידים".

בפשקוויל, מובא בהרחבה סיפורו של הילד א.פ. בן ה-12, שחזר באחד הימים בשעה 21:00 לביתו, לאחר ששהה בחנות 'אור החיים סנטר', יחד עם חברו וקראו ספרים. "יש שם הרבה ספרים טובים לקרוא", מצוטט הילד.

האם, כפי הנטען בפשקוויל, הזהירה את הילד שלא ייכנס לשם שוב, מחשש שייתקל בספרים שאינם ראויים. יומיים לאחר-מכן, הילד שוב איחר, והאם ניסתה לשאול אותו היכן היה, כשהוא ניסה להערים עליה כי לא היה בחנות.

"לפתע, א.פ. שואל אותה למה הקב"ה עשה... איך ב"א יכול... אמו שאחזתה תדהמה נשתתק לשונה, והילד ממשיך - אם לא תעני לי על השאלות האלה אז אלך לחנות אור החיים סנטר, ואמצא את התשובות בספרים הנמכרים שם!", נכתב בפשקוויל.

"האם שהזדעזעה למשמע אזנה לראות איך בתוך שכונתנו יש חנות המפיצה כפירה ומינות וספרים המלאים בנבלות פה, והילדים בלא יודעים מציצים ונפגעים, רצה בבהלה לאחד מהעסקנים וסיפרה לו על הפרצה הנוראהף ועל שבנה הולך ומתדרדר ואין לאל ידה להושיע", לשון הפשקוויל, המציין כי בשל חששה, האם מחכה מדי יום לילד ליד החיידר כדי לקחתו מיד לבית.

בסיום הפשקוויל, נכתב: "הורים, עסקנים, מנהלי ת"ת! האין די בסיפור מזעזע זה להרעיש עולם ומלואו? החוב מוטל עליכם להפוך עולמות, להסיר מחטיא ומוריד נשמות לבאר שחת ממחננו, ולהזהיר הילדים והתלמידים לבל יהינו לדרוך על מפתן החנות 'אור החיים סנטר' המטמא נפש בנינו ובנותינו".

NY: Eight dead from gun violence during bloody Memorial Day weekend

Bullets flew over the Memorial Day weekend, leaving eight people dead of gun violence during the unofficial beginning of the summer.

With each killing, a family was torn apart. Perhaps no other case illustrated the pain like the murder of Claudia Millan, 29, of the Bronx. She was shot in the face Sunday night by a heartless killer, as she held the hand of her 2-year-old son.

Millan fell to the ground on an East Tremont street near her home. The boy, Jah-mere Lassiter, got down on his knees and clung to his dying mom, a witness said.

Millan has three other children, one of whom is visually impaired. She was an orphan who was reunited a few years ago with her biological brother, Antonio Millan, 20.

"I live in the Bronx. It's every day for us," the brother said.

Because he's accustomed to random violence, he said, he thought nothing of the gunshot that rang out shortly after 11 p.m. But 30 minutes later, police knocked on the door of the apartment he shared with his sister.

"I kicked the door. I was just angry. Who would kill a woman with a child?" he railed.

The eight people killed in seven shootings over the weekend helped bring the city's murder tally to 185 through late yesterday. Through May 29 of last year, police reported 186 murders.

"I'm worried about my family," said Robert Pressley, 48, a city worker from Brownsville, Brooklyn. "This is only the beginning of ugly things to come. I think it's going to be a hot, out-of-control summer."

The victims in the recent spate of violence included a young, pregnant mother, Crystal Sweet, 22, who was killed in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, early Sunday in a hail of bullets intended for others. Her boyfriend, Timothy Walter, 29, was killed in the shooting. Walter's brother, Cornelius, 30, was critically wounded. Police sources said the Walter brothers were carrying crack when they were shot. Detectives think it was a drug hit, the police sources said.

In Crown Heights, Brooklyn, shortly after 5 a.m. yesterday, Kareem Russell, a 37-year-old father who worked as a bricklayer, was shot in the head and arm near the intersection of Pacific St. and Schenectady Ave.

While the murder rate nearly matches that of last year, homicides have been on the increase in recent months. As of Feb. 23, murders were down 25% compared with last year.

The Bronx is a big reason for the upward trend. As of May 22, murders in the borough were up 27.5% - a spike to 51 from 40.

At the exact same time Millan was killed - and a few miles away - Johnny Moore, 16, was gunned down in Mott Haven, the Bronx.

Detectives believe Johnny, a well-known talent on the basketball courts of Mott Haven, was killed by a young man he beat in a game of one-on-one hoops for money. The sore loser refused to pay up - and he shot Johnny over the cash, police sources said.

"That was my brother, and I love him to death," said his sister Tempest Moore, 22.

In a tearful tribute, she stood on a basketball court at the Patterson Houses wearing her brother's jersey. It was early yesterday - hours after the murder.

"He wasn't a bad kid," she said, lobbing his basketball toward a netless goal. "I'm in a daze right now."

A Plan Like No Other

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated Torah as we treat our cell phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several time a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it as if we couldn’t live without it?

What if we gave it to Kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go….hmm…just where is my Torah today?

Oh, and ooooooone more thing.

Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about Torah being disconnected because its calls never fail.

Makes you stop and think ‘where are my priorities’?

No dropped calls!

No worries about running out of power-recharging it

It constantly Recharges you !!

No misdialed or wrong connection etc !!

Can be totally concealed in you.

Can be used without Hardware.

No activation or usage fees.

Free Nights and Days 365

Free Text

Unlimited amount of users.

Always connects to the President/CEO/CFO 24/7

Controversy Surrounds Renaming Of Brooklyn Street After Italian Community Activist

Borough Park Leaders Concerned Over Ties To Italian Army

NEW YORK — A proposal to rename a street in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn in honor of a longtime Italian community activist has run into a roadblock.

Some community activists want to know more about the man’s record in the Italian army in World War II, reports CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.

A street sign in Borough Park was on the verge of being renamed for Zachary Sansone, a founder of the Congress of Italian American Organizations, which he started with his wife, Mary. Zachary Sansone passed away last year. The sign was about to be approved for renaming, but then some questioned Zachary Sansone’s military service.

“I think we don’t have enough information as to what Mr. Sansone’s role was in the fascist Italian army during the second World War. And pending that information, I think this matter should be held in abeyance,” Rabbi Chaim Israel said.

Rabbi Israel and Assemblyman Dov Hikind objected to Community Board 12, about renaming 59th Street between 14th and 15th avenues until more could be learned about Sansone’s time with the Italian army.

“I think it’s outrageous!” Mary Sansone said.

Mary Sansone said her husband went to Italy when he was 12 and was drafted into the army. She said as an American citizen, he went to the American consulate to object — but was denied.

“Oh, he was against Mussolini! He had no choice!” Mary Sansone said.

“But we also know that he made it up to first lieutenant,” Rabbi Israel responded.

Mary Sansone attempted to clarify Rabbi Israel’s claims.

“No, no! The reason why he was first lieutenant is because he was a lawyer, and when you get drafted, you go according to your rank!” she said.

As for Zachary Sansone’s decades of community service, Rabbi Israel stopped short of downplaying all that he did for the area.

“Well he’s a very fine human being. He really was. And he deserves honors. The question is do we name an American street for him? That’s all,” Rabbi Israel said.

Mary Sansone said she is confident that the street will be renamed for her husband.

Community Board 12 put off the vote to rename the street for Zachary Sansone until the end of June.

Maid Likely to Be Focus

Strauss-Kahn Defense Teams Gears Up to Challenge Credibility of Hotel Worker.

It's a classic he-said, she-said case. And now the he appears to be gearing up to challenge the credibility of the she.

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested May 14 after a maid, who works at the Sofitel New York, told police he had sexually assaulted her earlier that day. Mr. Strauss-Kahn has maintained his innocence.

It's not yet known what tactics Mr. Strauss-Kahn's defense team will use if the case goes to trial. But his defense lawyers have intimated that he plans a consensual-sex defense. And for that to work, experts say his lawyers must seek to undermine the credibility of the maid, a 32-year-old immigrant from Guinea.

Defense attorneys for Dominique Strauss-Kahn asserted in a letter last week to the Manhattan District Attorney's office that "were we intent on improperly feeding the media frenzy, we could release substantial information that in our view would seriously undermine the quality of the prosecution and also gravely undermine the credibility of the complainant in this case."

It remains to be seen exactly what information Mr. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers possess. But experts in the investigations field predicted that investigators for the former IMF chief will check out everything the maid has done from around the time she turned 14 or so until now.

"There's not a lot of rocket science to this. They're going to be looking to discredit her," said John Cutter, vice president of the investigative firm Beau Dietl & Associates and a retired New York Police Department top official.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn's defense team has hired Guidepost Solutions to handle at least part of the investigative duties. Guidepost was founded by Bart Schwartz, former chief of the Criminal Division in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office. Last year, the company acquired SafirRosetti, the investigative firm co-founded by former NYPD Police Chief Howard Safir. Guidepost didn't respond to calls seeking confirmation that it was working on the case. Investigators who spoke to The Wall Street Journal said the defense investigation just of the maid could easily cost half a million dollars or more.

For those accused of a serious crime and who have the money to afford it, these type of investigations of the alleged victim have become commonplace; the goal is to make the accuser end up as the accused.

"When you have money you can put up a good defense for what should be indefensible," said Anne Seymour, who works at Justice Solutions in Washington, D.C., and has worked as a victim's advocate for the past 29 years. "It means you can hire high-profile attorneys and in many cases they will rip the poor victims to shreds and go into her background and completely question her lifestyle and go deep in her personal life and find things that have absolutely nothing to do with the case."

Law-enforcement sources have said that Mr. Strauss-Kahn's DNA matched semen recovered from the maid's shirt. But that could still be consistent with a consensual-sex defense.

"At the end of the day, it's a he-said, she-said situation," Mr. Cutter said. "Just because they have evidence of DNA doesn't mean there was no consensual sex. If you had bruising, torn clothes, things like that, then the defense would be really worried. But he's saying it's consensual and she's saying it's nonconsensual."

The first thing that Mr. Strauss-Kahn's investigators may do, Mr. Cutter said, is run a computer check using databases to get her birth date, address, work location, past residences. They'll check to see if the maid has an arrest record. Has she ever had money problems, filed for bankruptcy? Does she have a history of drug or alcohol abuse? Has she broken her lease, does she move every couple of months, are there any liens on her?

Among the things that investigators uncovered in the case of William Kennedy Smith, who was accused of raping a woman in the Kennedy family's Palm Beach estate in 1991, was that his accuser had three abortions and used drugs in the past.

"They brought up just about everything, talking to everyone who ever knew her," said Ms. Seymour, who attended the trial and provided emotional support to Mr. Smith's accuser. "Her past sexual history, medical history, personal things like she wasn't a good mother, which she was, or whether she was a party girl, which she was not."

The information was reported in the media but most of the information wasn't brought up during the trial. Mr. Smith was acquitted of the rape charges.

At the same time as Mr. Strauss-Kahn's investigators look in the maid's past, a second parallel defense investigation, most likely by a separate team, could be delving into Mr. Strauss-Kahn's own life, said executives in the investigation industry.

"You absolutely have to know what they have against your own guy," said an executive at an internationally known investigative firm. "You cannot rely on what your guy is telling you either about his own background and also about what went on in that room. You've got to figure out the universe of people who are going to be called as witnesses and learn what they might say as soon as possible."

Egyptian businessman Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar accused of sexually abusing hotel maid at The Pierre

Egyptian businessman Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, accused of groping maid at The Pierre hotel, is led by NYPD detectives from the 19th Precinct early Tuesday

Egyptian Businessman Faces Sexual Assault Charges:

An Egyptian businessman has followed in the footsteps of pervy Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn - sexually abusing a maid in a swanky Manhattan hotel, police said Monday night.

Mahmoud Abdel-Salam Omar, 74, former head of the Bank of Alexandria and now chairman of a leading Middle Eastern salt company, is accused of locking the 44-year-old hotel employee inside his $900-a-night room at The Pierre on E. 61st St. off Fifth Ave.

He had called for room service requesting tissues and answered the door in his pajamas, police sources said. When the maid, whom he had not specifically requested, arrived at his 10th-floor room, he asked her to put the box of tissues on a table, sources said. As she moved toward the table, he locked the door.

"He locked her in the room and had her trapped," a police source said. "He grabbed her breasts, groped her. He was grinding against her."

Omar then asked the maid for her phone number, a police source said. After she gave him a made-up number he let go, and she fled the room.

The incident happened about 6 p.m. on Sunday but was not reported to police until Monday morning.

"Experienced NYPD detectives found the complainant to be credible," said Paul Browne, the NYPD's top spokesman.

Omar was arrested at the hotel Monday afternoon and was charged with sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment, forcible touching and harassment, officials said. He was being held at the 19th Precinct stationhouse on the upper East Side Monday night.

"When I came in they were all talking about it," said a bellman at the hotel, who declined to give his name. "When she came to his room, he got carried away. He started grabbing at her. He wouldn't let her go."

The maid has worked at the hotel for about a year, co-workers said. She did not return to work Monday.

"I don't want to say it, but he tried to rape her," the bellman added. "It's a total copycat of what happened with the French guy."

Before becoming chairman of the Egyptian salt company, El-Mex Salines Co., Omar was head of the Bank of Alexandria in Egypt.

"They were saying the guest was a very nice guy, and then this," said a shocked housekeeper at the hotel. "Human beings are strange."

Merkel lands in India after plane delayed for hours by Iran

German Chancellor's plane forced to circle over Turkey for two hours after Iran temporarily suspends flyover rights.

Iran temporarily withdrew flyover rights on Tuesday for a plane carrying German Chancellor Angela Merkel to India, forcing it to circle over Turkey for almost two hours before restoring the rights.

We have never experienced anything like this before," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said. He declined to criticize Iran but said the incident was "unusual to say the

A Reuters journalist travelling with Merkel said Iran withdrew the rights, which had been granted previously, just as the plane entered Iranian air space.

After more than an hour of negotiations, involving Turkish authorities and Germany's foreign ministry, the plane was allowed to resume its flight path over Iran to New Delhi.

Officials in the German delegation travelling with Merkel attributed the incident to "coordination problems". The plane, carrying a large group of industry representatives and reporters, landed two hours late.

A second government plane with German ministers onboard reached India without any problems. Merkel and members of her cabinet are due to meet senior members of the Indian government on Tuesday in the first German-Indian government consultations.

"An unusual start to the India trip," Seibert wrote on his Twitter account. "Iran temporarily denied flyover rights for the Chancellor's plane. A late landing in Delhi."

The European Union last week significantly extended its sanctions against Iran in a sign of mounting frustration at a lack of progress in nuclear talks with Tehran.

The incident comes as Iranian officials meet their Indian counterparts for a second day to try to resolve an impasse over payments for oil sales worth about 17 billions dollar a year.

What Is Really Happening in New Square?

Eighteen years ago, as a Hasidic student at the yeshiva of New Square, I found myself swept up one morning in the frenzy of a mob. I, along with around two dozen young men, ransacked the private dormitory room of a fellow student. We broke open the door, smashed the lock on the bedside cabinet, scattered the contents of dresser drawers across the floor, and ripped blankets, sheets and mattresses from the bed in a desperate search for… well, we weren’t sure what we were searching for.

There had been rumors in the study hall that the student in question was in possession of items forbidden by the rules of our austere Hasidic lifestyle. We’d heard rumors of portable TVs, of audiocassettes of secular music, of secular newsmagazines; we didn’t know for certain nor did we care. The important thing was that we demonstrated our willingness and ability to commit violence against those who violated our community’s code of conduct.

In the end we found only several photographs of our friend wearing a baseball cap and a t-shirt, and we thought his adoption of the vulgar sartorial habits of common Americans enough to vindicate our vigilantism.

Our behavior was publicly condemned by yeshiva officials. In private they commended us.

This incident came to mind after the recent events in New Square in which eighteen-year-old Shaul Spitzer, a yeshiva student and attendant to the community’s grand rabbi, attempted to firebomb the house of a dissident member of the community. He ended up inflicting third-degree burns on over 50% of the body of Aron Rottenberg, whose home was the target of the attack.

Rottenberg’s crime: he prayed at the wrong synagogue. Instead of the main synagogue, which belongs to grand rabbi David Twersky, Rottenberg attended services at a synagogue a short distance outside the village.

To some, the conflict sounds like the oldest story in the Jewish book: Jews fighting over which synagogue they do or don’t want to worship in. But in New Square there’s a more sinister component.

The similarities between the latest incident and that of my teenage years lie in the extra-legal vigilantism that characterizes the enforcement of communal norms within Hasidic communities in general and among the Skver Hasidim of New Square in particular.

Compared to the recent incident in New Square, the one I was involved in was mild. We made a big mess, caused our friend some agitation, but there was little actual damage done to person or property. But over the years, especially once I had abandoned the rigid lifestyle of Skver Hasidism in which I’d spent the bulk of my thirty-six years, I’ve reflected on that incident with a great sense of shame.

One image stands out most in my memory: before we took action we sought approval from one of the community’s leading rabbis. “‘Be rid of the evil in your midst,’” he quoted the Bible in solemn approbation of our intentions, and off we went with balled fists. It is easy for me to imagine far greater damage if the conditions were right; if, say, we’d discovered more incriminating evidence of our friend’s deviance, or if, worse, our friend had put up resistance to our attack. Our cause was righteous.

Niceties, legalities, and conventional notions of human decency were of little consequence. And the recent attack in New Square shows the real life-threatening extremes to which such vigilantism can be taken.

There was a time, decades ago, when the all-Hasidic village of New Square was known for its hospitality, its generosity, its simple lifestyle revolving around Torah study and adherence to cherished Hasidic values.

Twerksy, the rebbe, has, since his father’s death in 1968, served as the dynastic heir to the leadership of the Skver sect, a Hasidic community with its origins in the Ukrainian town of Skvyra. But as New Square has grown, so have the institutions of power and privilege, and dissidents who sought in full or in part to lead lives outside the rebbe’s orbit found themselves harassed and hounded.

In recent decades, those who refused to submit to the will of the rebbe have been subjected to having rocks thrown through the windows of their homes and cars, being spat upon in the streets or in the synagogue, their children harassed in their classrooms by both teachers and classmates.

The Skver Shtetl, as New Square is known to the Hasidic world, is today characterized not by piety but by a cult of personality, the worship of the rebbe, who lives in gilded opulence while the majority of his community lives in poverty.

The rebbe eats his meals on silver platters with golden utensils, owns a number of latest model Cadillacs for himself and his family, and lights his Hanukkah candles on a massive six-foot-tall sterling silver menorah that community members told me cost tens of thousands of dollars. Most of his followers, some with families consisting of a dozen or more children, rely on food stamps and Section-8 housing vouchers for basic subsistence.

There is something profoundly perverse about a religious community — which also happens to include a legal municipality (New Square is an incorporated village within the Town of Ramapo, in Rockland County, N.Y.) — where a single man acts as autocratic ruler, complete with the trappings of royalty, with extra-judicial powers over the population that include the administering of real physical and psychological pain.

Skver Hasidim are adamant that the latest incident was the work of a lone zealot, an aberration that was neither ordered nor condoned. But that misses the point. It isn’t the act alone that warrants condemnation but the conditions that allowed for it to occur, conditions that include the belief that coercive measures are valid tools in the battle to preserve their unique brand of Hasidic practice.

There is no evidence at this point that the attack was ordered by or committed with the approval of the New Square leadership, at the head of which stand’s New Square’s grand rabbi. But that doesn’t absolve them of culpability.

The Skver Rebbe has in the past made no public statements condemning violent attacks, and his comments about this recent incident appear weak and unconvincing, made only to appease the fury of the broader Jewish world, on which New Square relies for various forms of support.

Unless the Skver Rebbe issues a clear and unequivocal condemnation of all forms of harassment in “his” village, further crimes will be committed in his name and for his honor. And the broader Jewish community will rightly place the blame squarely on his shoulders.

Shulem Deen is the founding editor of, a journal for voices on the Hasidic fringe. He is a former Skver Hasid who once lived in New Square.


'השרוף' מדבר: "הקב"ה רצה שארגיש כמו החולים מביה"ח"

לפני כשבוע הושלך בקבוק תבערה על ביתו של חיים אהרון רוטנברג, המתגורר בעיירה סקווירא שליד מונסי שבמדינת ניו-יורק. רוטנברג, שלא ציית לתקנות הנהוגות בקהילה במלואם, ספג בחודשים האחרונים אין-ספור קללות ונאצות מתושבי המקום.

הסיבה העיקרית להשלכת בקבוק התבערה על ביתו של רוטנברג, היא העובדה שהוא בחר להתפלל בבית-כנסת הממוקם בבית חולים סמוך, ולא בבית-כנסת של הקהילה, כפי שנכתב בתקנות המקום.

לאחר זריקת בקבוק התבערה, אושפז רוטנברג בבית-חולים כשהוא במצב קשה. זקנו גולח, וגופו מכוסה בכוויות קשות.

חדרו בבית החולים הפך למוקד עליה לרגל. המונים מגיעים לבקר, לחזק ולעודד. מאות המבקרים שהגיעו לחדרו הקטן, לא שמעו מילה רעה נגד תלמיד ישיבת סקווירא שגרם לו להתאשפז במצב כה קשה בבית החולים. בשיחה שערכנו עם חבריו, הם מספרים על אדם חזק, מלא וגדוש ביראת שמיים, המאמין בכל כוחו בקדוש-ברוך-הוא.

אחד מחבריו ניצל את הביקור כדי לצלם את הפצוע. בסרט, שנשלח לאתר 'בחדרי חרדים' - ומתפרסם כאן בחשיפה ראשונה - מבקש רוטנברג ממבקריו דבר אחד: תבקרו את שאר החולים המאושפזים בבית החולים בו התפללתי. "מי יודע אולי הקב"ה שלח לי את העונש הזה בכדי שאהיה יותר ערני לצרות של האחרים", אומר רוטנברג.

השיחה כולה מתנהלת בשפת האידיש,

בתחילת השיחה מסביר רוטנברג, מדוע עזב את בית הכנסת של הקהילה, ועבר להתפלל בבית-כנסת הממוקם בבית-חולים בשכונה

"הלכתי להתפלל יחד עם רבי ברוך כהנא מקרית יואל. קוראים לו האדמו"ר מספינקא - קרית יואל. אני חושב שאין לו אפילו בית מדרש. הוא אלמן כבר עשרים שנה. הוא איבד את זוגתו כשהיה באמצע שנות הארבעים לחייו. הוא חלה במחלה הקשה בפיו והוצרכו לחתוך חלק מלשונו, הוא מתקשה מאוד גם בדיבור.

"אנחנו באים אליו כל יום, כבר מתקופת פורים, ומתפללים מנחה-מעריב עם היהודי הזה. התפללנו איתו כל התפילות בשבתות וסעדנו איתו סעודה שלישית. כל סעודה שלישית היינו מכבדים אותו בזימון. גם כשהוא היה במצב שהוא לא יכל לברך, הוא כיבד את אחד המשתתפים. רצינו להשיב לו את רוח החיים. שירגיש אדם.

"היה לו קשה לשוחח עם אנשים. אבל עצם זה שישבנו איתו מאוד חיזק אותו. מבין כל המתפללים הוא שמר רק את הטלפון שלי. הייתי איתו בקשר קרוב מאוד. בחול המועד ישבנו איתו כל היום. התפללנו איתו את כל התפילות, וראינו איך הוא מתחזק מזה.

"בשבוע האחרון הוא עבר חוויה בריאותית קשה. העבירו אותו לבית חולים אחר. ככה לפחות לא נמנע ממנו להתפלל איתנו. הוא שמע מה קרה לי, והוא הרוס מזה. הוא יודע כמה השתדלנו בשבילו ובשביל יהודים אחרים.

"אני זוכר איך היינו לומדים איתו כל יום. למדנו הלכות ספירת העומר, ותמיד הקפדנו לשאול אותו איזה הלכות נלמד היום. הוא היה מבקש הלכות מסוימות, והרגיש שהוא תורם לבני החבורה. הוא גם היה מזכיר לנו מתי הגיע זמן מעריב. כולנו ידענו מתי הזמן, אבל זה שהוא הזכיר לנו – החיה אותו".

"תגידו שאני שלחתי אתכם"
"מי שיכול ללכת לבקר אותו כשאני שוכב בבית החולים, יעשה דבר גדול מאוד. אני לא אומר אם להתפלל שם או לא. בואו נזיז את הפוליטיקה לצד. פשוט ללכת לבקר שם ולהחיות יהודי. יש שם עוד כמה יהודים שצריכים שיבקרו אותם. כשמבקרים אותם הם מרגישים כמו בני אדם. מי שלא נעים לו ללכת ומחפש תירוץ, שיגיד שאני שלחתי אותו.

"אתם צריכים להבין את ההרגשה של יהודים שנמצאים בכזה מקום. אני עכשיו נמצא במצב כזה. אולי בגלל זה הקב"ה נתן לי את המכה הזו, כדי שאבין איך הם מרגישים. יהודים מחפשים מצוות כל הזמן. מחפשים לעשות מצוות גדולות. לבקר בבתי כלא. אבל כאן יש מצווה ענקית ליד הבית. אפשר לבוא אפילו כמה דקות, החולים מבינים שלכל אחד יש סדר יום. הם לא יפגעו מביקור קצר.

"ואולי בזכות זה הקב"ה ישלח בריאות לכל חולי עמו ישראל, ובתוכם לי. צריך לנהוג במידות הפוכות מאכזריות. רק ברחמנות. ואני מאחל לכם בריאות איתנה בגוף ובנפש בתוך שאר חולי עמו ישראל".

בסקווירא זועמים על עורך דינו של האברך: "משפיל את הרבי"

עורך דינו של רוטנברג לא עוצר: אחרי שחולל פרובוקציה במסיבת העיתונאים, הוא משגר מכתב לתובע הכללי בו הוא משווה את תקיפת האברך ל"מעשה נאצי" ● טוען: "האלימות כלפי רוטנברג נוהלה על-ידי הנהגה רוחנית של החסידות, בראשות הרבי"

בסקווירא מביעים זעזוע מהתהגותו "המזלזלת והפוגעת של עורך הדין מייקל סוסמן כלפי הרבי", כך לדברי גורמים בחסידות.

לדבריהם, עורך הדין סוסמן, המייצג את האברך רוטנברג שהותקף על רקע המתיחות בחסידות, לא בוחל בדבר כדי להציג את החסידות באור שלילי ולהוציא דיבתה רעה.

סוסמן סומן כחובב פרובוקציות כבר במהלך מסיבת עיתונאים שערך יחד עם בני משפחת רוטנברג במרכז השיכון החסידי.

בסוף השבוע, שיגר סוסמן מכתב חריף לתובע הכללי האזורי אריק הולדר ובו הוא מתייחס למעשה בלשון שאינה משתמעת לשתי פנים: "האירוע שעבר אהרון רוטנברג מזכיר מעשה נאצי, והוא התרחש לאחר חודשים ארוכים של גזענות והסתה, תוך הטרדה אלימה כנגד משפחת רוטנברג".

בהמשך כותב סוסמן כי "האלימות כלפי רוטנברג נוהלה על-ידי ההנהגה הרוחנית של השיכון בראשות הרבי", לא פחות ולא יותר.

במכתב טוען עורך הדין כי "מדובר בבעיה מערכתית של קנאות דתית חשוכה, שמאפיינת מזה עשרות שנים את שיכון סקווירא".

סוסמן, שייצג בעבר את אחד הצדדים במאבק הירושה בחסידות סאטמר, דורש מהתובע הכללי למצות עם האחראים את הדין.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Venezuela - Homeless Squatters Occupy Synagogue in Caracas

Sinagoga invadida by Globovision

Venezuela - A group of about 20 homeless people stormed into a synagogue Monday in Caracas, arguing that the building had been abandoned and they needed a home.

The three-storey Beth Abraham synagogue in the Alta Florida neighbourhood of the Venezuelan capital has been undergoing renovation for the last two years, said representatives of Venezuela’s Jewish community.

In a recent clash with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Jewish groups including the Simon Wiesenthal Centre denounced what they saw as state anti-Semitism in the South American country.

Rep. Anthony Weiner hires attorney to explore civil, criminal charges in lewd Twitter photo 'prank'

Rep. Anthony Weiner isn't laughing at what he's calling an Internet "prank" - and he's hired an attorney to explore civil or criminal charges.

Weiner's office is playing off the lewd photo posted on his Twitter account Friday as the handiwork of a rabble-rousing hacker, but says the congressman can't take any chances.

"We are loath to treat it as more, but we are relying on professional advice," Weiner's spokesman Dave Arnold said.

Weiner's office did not identify the attorney.

The online soap opera unfolded over the weekend when an obscene photo on Weiner's Twitter page was addressed to Seattle college student Gennette Cordova - but visible to all 40,000 of his followers.

The photo of a man's crotch in tight-fitting underwear was quickly deleted - and Weiner insisted he'd been hacked.

As the blogosphere continued to buzz on Monday, Weiner hinted that his political foes were quick to focus on the controversy - rather than address issues affecting everyday Americans.

"Many want to change the subject [away from the issues] - I don't," Weiner said in a statement to The News on Monday. "This was a prank, and a silly one. I am focused on my work."

Twitter users, however, focused on tracking down the source of the dramatic crotch shot. Many on the social networking site accused user "patriotusa76" as the hacker.

But "patriotusa76," whose name is listed as Dan Wolfe, insists he's not the prankster - and maintained that it was Weiner who blasted the photo.

He even offered to cooperate with any investigation.

"I don't care. Either arrest me, press charges, etc. or shut up," he tweeted.

"I voluntarily offer my computer for analysis. No warrants necessary. I voluntarily offer everything. I did not hack anything," Wolfe tweeted to his 1,300 followers.

Wolfe, who describes himself as a "conservative Reagan Republican," has a photo of Ronald Reagan as his Twitter icon.

Cordova is siding with Weiner, telling the Daily News Sunday she and the congressman were victims of online pranksters.

"I have never met Congressman Weiner, though I am a fan," said Cordova, 21. "I've never been to New York or to DC."

Sen. Chuck Schumer, who served as Weiner's political mentor, gave his protege a vote of confidence in the court of public opinion.

"I don't know the details. But I know him to be a person of integrity and I am virtually certain he had nothing to do with this," Schumer said.

Upper East Side sex assault on 85-year-old woman by unidentified tattooed thug caught on tape

An NYPD officer secures the uppper East Side crime scene where an elderly woman was allegedly robbed and assaulted early this morning

Police: 85-Year Old Sexually Assaulted In NYC :

Police are hunting for the fiend who sexually assaulted and robbed an 85-year-old woman out for a stroll on the upper East Side Monday.

Photos of the muscle-bound brute released by police show him in a white tank top and black shorts. Images taken from a surveillance video show the hulking suspect dragging the victim down a sidewalk. The woman's image is blocked by a white oval.

Police and witnesses say the man's arms are covered in tattoos.

Surveillance video of the 5:40 a.m. attack shows the sicko pretending to talk on a cell phone before putting the elderly woman in a headlock on Madison Ave. and E. 83rd St., a doorman said.

The man dragged the victim along E. 83rd St. and down the stairs of a sunken stoop of a 5-story luxury brownstone. Then he forced her to perform oral sex on him and stole a ring before fleeing, police sources said.

The doorman said a colleague came to the woman's aid and took her back to his building, where they called police.

Meanhwile, the fleeing perv stopped another doorman arriving to work at a nearby building, police sources said, asking him for the time and directions to the 86th St. subway station.

The victim, who weighs no more than 100 pounds and lives close to the crime scene, was disheveled and bruised from being dragged, witnesses said. She was taken to a local hospital in stable condition, officials said.

The suspect is described as a muscular Hispanic man in his 20s, about 5-foot-10.

Police spent hours searching for witnesses on surrounding streets, near Central Park, and the area around the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Doorman Bill Albers, 54, who works at a building across from where the attack happened, was shocked to hear about it.

"It's bad," he said. "A guy like that should be brought up into the woods and be fed to the animals."

Oy Vey. New York City ordains first Lesbian Rabbi.

The Conservative movement ordained their first openly gay rabbi in a ceremony earlier this month at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.

As reported in the Jerusalem Post, Rachel Isaacs, 28, was ordained at the Seminary on 19 May, the first openly gay person of either gender to hold the position.

Ms Isaacs had begun her rabbinical training at the Reform movement’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, but switched to the Conservative seminary after it began admitting openly gay and lesbian students in 2007.

In her new position, Isaacs will serve as the part-time rabbi at Beth Israel Congregation in Waterville, Maine, where she has already served as a rabbinic intern. She will also hold a part-time position as the Jewish chaplain of Colby College, where she will also be a member of the faculty.

The JTS only began accepting openly gay and lesbian students in 2006 and according to Rabbi Isaacs, studying there may still be a challenge for her fellow LGBT people. Speaking to the Jewish Daily Forward, she said: “As much as the struggle for gay and lesbian equality has made great strides there are still people who struggle with their sexual orientations or have families who aren’t supportive or are scared they won’t get jobs. That’s just life as a gay or lesbian person.”

מאדוף החרדי יישאר במעצר: "עקץ גם את בני משפחתו"

בית-המשפט האריך את מעצרו של "מאדוף החרדי" בשל חומרת העבירות. כתב האישום: כך הונה מוישי זוסמן במיליונים, לאורך תקופה. בפרקליטות הסבירו כי מדובר בדפוס שיטתי של מעשי הונאה חמורים, כשבין הנפגעים נמצאים גם ידידיו ובני משפחתו. כל הפרטים מתוך כתב האישום

בית המשפט המחוזי בתל-אביב האריך היום את מעצרו של איש העסקים מוישי זוסמן החשוד בהונאת משקיעים ובגניבת כספם.

זוסמן, שכונה "מאדוף החרדי" חשוד שהונה את לקוחותיו וטען בפניהם כי השקיע את כספם, בזמן שבחר לשלשל את הכסף לכיסו.

הפרשה התפוצצה לפני כשנה וחצי, ומיד לאחר-מכן נמלט זוסמן לחו"ל.

התפנית התרחשה לפני כחודשיים כשנתפס על-ידי ה-FBI בארה"ב. מאז שוהה זוסמן במעצר וכיום הוחלט להאריכו עד תום ההליכים, וזאת בשל חומרת העבירות.

הערב, חושף "כיכר השבת" סעיפי אישום כתב האישום המלא נגד זוסמן בו מפורטות העבירות.

ע"פ כתב האישום "במהלך ספטמבר 2009 פנה זוסמן לח.ב. וביקש ממנו להקים עבורו אתר אינטרנט שיתחזה לאתר של חברת איזי פורקס.

בפגישה בין השניים, במשרדו של זוסמן ברח´ סמטת מנשה 4 ב"ב, הנחה את ח´ להיכנס לאתר הרישמי של החברה ולהעתיק את הלוגו.

כמו כן ביקש ממנו להזין לאתר המזוייף נתונים כוזבים בנוגע לתשואות, בכדי שהמשקיעים יוכלו להתרשם מהרווחים כביכול.

בחודש מרץ באותה שנה פגש זוסמן את ד.ס. בביתו בת"א והציג עצמו כסוחר מט"ח שהשקעותיו מניבות 60% לשנה ללא סיכון רב. בעקבות כך העביר סלומון לזוסמן 100,000 דולר, בהעברה בנקאית לחשבונו של זוסמן שעשה בו שימוש לצרכיו האישיים.

הוא שלח דוא"ל המצביע על תשואה של 10% לחודש, במהלך החודשים הבאים העביר סלומון עוד 400,000 דולר לחשבונו של זוסמן.

עוד עולה מכתב האישום כי במהלך 2009 העביר א.י. 126,000 דולר לחשבונו של זוסמן בכדי שישקיע את כספו. גם כאן חזרה השיטה על עצמה: זוסמן שילשל את הכסף לכיסו אך שלח דוא"ל ללקוח כאילו כספו נושא רווחים, בעקבות כך השקיע הלקוח עוד 139,000 דולר אצל זוסמן.

בפרקליטות הסבירו כי מדובר בדפוס שיטתי של מעשי הונאה חמורים, כשבין הנפגעים נמצאים גם ידידיו ובני משפחתו.