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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Israeli expert says Internet slowdown could take months to fix

If you’ve been suffering from a slow Internet connection over the past several weeks, don’t blame your ISP. The fault may lie not with your provider, but with a large Dutch company that hosts companies that send out tons of junk email (spam).

The hosting company — Cyberbunker -– took offense when a European spam watchdog fingered it as a source of spam, and allegedly has shot back at the watchdog — Spamhaus — by sending it reams of data, effectively mounting a major denial of service (DDOS) attack. But because the whole world is networked, everybody has been feeling the effects of this tiff.

US security company Cloudflare, which first revealed the attacks last week, said it is the biggest DDOS attack in history.

According to Spamhaus CEO Steve Linford, the attack, which began March 15, is “unprecedented. These attacks are peaking at 300 gb/s (gigabits per second). Normally when there are attacks against major banks, we’re talking about 50 gb/s.” Speaking to the BBC, Linford said that the attacks were being investigated by five national cyber-police forces around the world: “They are targeting every part of the Internet infrastructure that they feel can be brought down.”

“Cyberbunker, in cooperation with ‘criminal gangs’ from Eastern Europe and Russia, is behind the attack,” added Linford.

Cyberbunker denies taking part in any DDOS attacks.

No matter who is behind it, though, we may be stuck with a slow Internet for a while, said Roni Bachar, director of cybersecurity at Israeli security company Avnet, speaking to The Times of Israel on Wednesday, as the Internet slowdown made headlines worldwide.

“Already there are zombies — the programs that are conducting the DDOS attacks — on servers all over the world. And it may take months, or even years, to figure out the signature of these attacks in order to come up with a way to battle them.” The signature refers to the programming techniques and other common technical aspects of the zombies. Similar to the method whereby computer viruses are neutralized, the tracking down of the perpetrator will enable programmers to come up with a formula to neutralize the attacks.

The prospect of living with a slow Internet for months, or years, sounds nightmarish, and Bachar is fairly confident that things could speed up much sooner — provided the source of the attacks is discovered. “Getting hold of the zombies and analyzing them will enable programmers to come up with an ‘antidote,’ and I am sure that cyber-security firms and government groups are already hard at work searching for the central servers that are running the DDOS attacks,” he said.

Until then, though, it appears that we are going to have to grin and bear the slow Internet.

Kiryat Shmona: Police officer dies while scouring for burglars

A police officer called in to apprehend suspected burglars in Kiryat Shmona died when the structure he was climbing when scouring for the perpetrators collapsed.

The police officer, Hunny Trudy, 42, fell from five meters (roughly three feet) as the structure collapsed, and was evacuated to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, where he died of his wounds.

DA’s Role In Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger Murder Case Questioned

Late last month, after 23 years behind bars for crimes he almost certainly did not commit, a gray-haired David Ranta, 58, carrying a purple fishnet laundry bag containing all his worldly possessions, walked out of State Supreme Court in Brooklyn a free man. (Ranta suffered a serious heart attack just a day after his release but is said to be recovering and in “good spirits).

Ranta, who was convicted in 1991 of attempting to rob a chasidic jewelry courier and then murdering a prominent chasidic rabbi, was released after a yearlong investigation by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s recently established Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU).

The investigation, prompted by Ranta’s trial attorney, Michael Baum, found that “the evidentiary foundation upon which the jury relied in delivering its verdict in this case has been significantly eroded.” In its reporting on the unraveling of the case, The New York Times highlighted the intense community pressure to solve the case and the conduct of one detective in particular as playing major roles in Ranta’s wrongful conviction.

Upon Ranta’s release, the head of the CIU, John O’Mara, told The Daily News “We did the right thing,” in releasing Ranta — something that can hardly be disputed. However, the case against Ranta was clearly flawed from the start, observers say. And a review of the various appeals and motions Ranta filed while he was incarcerated — all of which were vigorously opposed by Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes and denied by the courts — indicate that these flaws were not uncovered by the CIU, but were well known to the prosecution for 20 years. (One piece of new evidence was the admission by a chasidic man that he had been coached to lie during the lineup).

The problems with the initial case include the fact that there was no physical evidence connecting Ranta to the crime, and that a key eyewitness insisted Ranta was not the culprit. The main witness linking Ranta to both crimes was a crack-addicted jailhouse snitch who received immunity for his crimes and a sweetheart deal on his own numerous pending charges in exchange for his testimony. In addition, the lead detective on the case removed potential suspects from prison and entertained them. Ranta’s confession (which he denied making) was not tape recorded, but transcribed by the detective.

And this includes only what was known to the defense at the time of the trial.

All of this has led some observers to suggest that Hynes’ release of Ranta, without acknowledging any culpability on the part of his own office, was timed to burnish his reputation in what is shaping up to be a potentially tough re-election fight later this year.

“As in almost all wrongful conviction litigations, so-called new evidence of innocence is known to prosecutors and judges years, sometimes decades, before a case is finally resolved,” Lonnie Soury, an expert in wrongful convictions who helped to free Martin Tankleff and the West Memphis Three and is the founder of, told The Jewish Week.

“The Ranta case was no different. The ‘new’ evidence was known to Hynes’ office for years, and this man should have been released a long time ago. But one cannot overlook the significance of the timing of this decision as Hynes has taken tremendous heat for the wrongful conviction of Jabbar Collins, a [$150 million] civil suit for which is now underway in the federal court. This is an election year.”

Collins was convicted of the 1994 murder of a chasidic landlord and, after spending 15 years in jail, won his release in 2010. It came after a federal judge vacated his conviction in the face of significant evidence that Collins and his attorney had developed of prosecutorial misconduct. (Last year Hynes was forced to drop charges against Darrell Dula and Ronald Bozeman, both of whom had been jailed awaiting trial, after evidence of misconduct by prosecutors emerged. In February, the murder conviction of William Lopez, who had spent 23 years in jail, was thrown out by a federal judge.)

According to the prosecution’s narrative, the murder of Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger, for which Ranta was wrongly convicted, stemmed from the botched robbery of a jewelry courier, Chaim Weinberger, in the early morning hours of Feb. 8, 1990. Weinberger, held up at gunpoint in his car, managed to get away. Then, according to the prosecution, unable to locate his getaway car, the gunman approached the idling car of Rabbi Werzberger, a chief assistant to the Satmar sect’s then-Grand Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum. The would-be robber fired at Rabbi Werzberger through the car window, opened the door, shoved the rabbi’s body onto the street and drove off in his car. Rabbi Werzberger died from his injuries four days later.

The killing sent shockwaves through the tight-knit Satmar community, where Rabbi Werzberger, a Holocaust survivor, was revered.

Under mounting pressure from the chasidic community to solve the crime, the police worked feverishly, with Satmar power broker Rabbi Leib Glanz acting as a liaison between the police and the Satmar community.   Five members of a Southern California family were killed Saturday when their van was rear-ended by an 18-year-old driver who was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said.

The dead were among seven family members who were in the van, authorities said. The other two — the 40-year-old female driver and a 15-year-old boy — were hospitalized in critical condition.

Jean Soriano of California was booked into the Clark County Detention Center after he was treated and released at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Loy Hixson said.

Read more at: The jewish week

As Yeshiva Child Sex Abuse Scandal Grows, Why Are We Afraid To Speak Out?

We in the Orthodox Jewish community claim to value children deeply. We want to have children, and we pressure our own children to get married and have children, and yet, when it comes to really ensuring those children’s utmost protection from harm, somehow the silence is deafening.

As a Yeshiva University alumnus and a psychotherapist who works with abused children, I was horrified to learn that my alma mater was apparently involved in a 30-year cover-up of sexual abuse that affected hundreds of children and protected known abusers. Y.U. — an institution to which I am grateful for making me who I am today — also has refused to commit to releasing to the public details of its investigation into these abuses.

So I created a petition urging Y.U. to commit to sharing the report findings with the public. Nearly everyone I know — many alumni from Y.U. and its Stern College for Women, including rabbis, did not sign. Other than one or two brave figures, the people I worked with for years through Y.U., programs teaching Jewish children worldwide about Jewish values, wouldn’t sign, nor would they do anything else I am aware of to support victims.

I am deeply saddened by this blinding lack of empathy for our fellow suffering Jews.

As a psychotherapist, I know firsthand about the long-term effects of sexual abuse on children: It impacts their self-esteem, their faith, their trust in others — especially in the community. Silence in the face of abuse conveys the message to victims that their suffering matters much less than protecting the abuser or the leaders who covered up the abuse. With each day of silence that passes, the victims feel more isolated and betrayed. What is this passivity in the face of such terrible injustice?

I have come to understand that most people in my community are blocked by fear. Most people want to do the right thing, but are afraid of being judged by others, or they don’t want to “break with Y.U.” While loyalty is an important value, it cannot take precedence over the safety of our children.

People invent intellectual arguments that enable them to avoid doing what’s difficult. They argue that holding someone responsible for particular actions will amount to vilifying an institution they care about. But this crisis is about holding specific people accountable for criminal and reckless behaviors and cover-ups, not about indicting a beloved school.

These fear-based justifications need to be challenged. We Jews are good at challenging our own thinking in the realm of learning, but of what use is this skill to us if we can’t apply it to our lives as Jews and to protecting our children?

Those who are part of Y.U.’s leadership can set things right. They can hold those who erred accountable, insist that the school’s rosh yeshiva, or chancellor, Norman Lamm, resign and then they can clean house. They can publicly apologize on Lamm’s behalf instead of ignoring the victims, and set up a fund for the victims’ therapy costs. They can commit to making their abuse report findings public. This will demonstrate empathy, console victims and exemplify true moral leadership. (Not to mention reduce lawsuits.)

Each of us can help victims, too, by writing to Y.U. and other Jewish organizations, asking them to take a stand for all children, withholding donations until we achieve a more ethical response, and pressuring board members we know to take action. We can encourage everyone in our community to open his or her heart and connect with the victims’ pain.

Here’s how to open your heart: Ask yourself what blocks you from speaking up. Take some time to reconnect with how it felt to be a small, helpless child, dependent on adults for security and love — and then imagine that a trusted, powerful figure in your life (a parent or teacher you admire) violates your trust by humiliating you or sexually abusing you at an age when you are still making sense of your world sexually and otherwise. If you are able to, for a moment, feel how these people have suffered, you will be able to stand up for them.

If we — as Jews, as community leaders, as institutions — do not stand up for our victims, we will become a community that enables abuse. Pedophiles know that in communities where fear of speaking out is high, they stand a better chance of getting away with their crimes. They know that in those communities, people are more concerned with their own reputation and with the reputation of their leaders and their institutions than they are with protecting their children.

If we don’t insist that abuse is intolerable in our midst, it will affect our children and grandchildren. I do not want us to become that type of community.

Stacey Klein works as a psychotherapist in New York City.

By Stacey Klein - Forward

Israel - Recovering Acre mayor tells all about assassination attempt

Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri on Sunday relived the assassination attempt he survived ten days ago, telling reporters for the first time about the ordeal doctors described as a lucky escape.

Late Thursday, a masked gunman shot Lankri in the chest from close range when the mayor stopped his car at a traffic light near the Kafr Yasif junction, in the vicinity of his northern Israeli hometown. He managed to call rescue services and was whisked by ambulance to a hospital in Nahariya, in serious but stable condition.

“I saw it with my own eyes. The muzzle of the gun was pointed at my head,” Lankri said, eyes downcast.

“Twenty meters before the junction, I noticed two people standing by the side of the road. They were masked, their faces partially covered by robber hats,” he said. “As soon as [one of the men] made a move to pull out the gun, I was already out of their, driving, speeding away.”

Though Lankri’s attempt to escape was successful, the shooters managed to wound him in the chest, breaking his ribs and puncturing his lungs. Lankri drove on, though he had difficulty breathing and was bleeding profusely. The first people he contacted were his friends in Kafr Yasif whom he had visited before the incident, because he knew there was an ambulance station underneath their house.

Asked who he thought was responsible for the attempt on his life, Lankri told Channel 2 that he believed “criminal elements” were behind it.

“There are criminal elements who are interested in controlling resources,” he said. “I believe we have caused them much damage by running [the city] in such a meticulous, orderly, lawful and organized way.”

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch was among the visitors at the Nahariya Hospital for the Western Galilee’s intensive care unit, where Lankri was hospitalized. “This is a very serious incident,” Aharonovitch said. “We realize its gravity and intend to apprehend those responsible,” continued the minister.

“Mayors are more vulnerable to criminal assaults and should be given proper protection so they can perform their duties,” Aharonovitch added, noting that there are also dozens of police officers operating under constant threat.

In August of 2012, police recommended that a guard detail be assigned to Lankri due to threats over his decision to close a horse farm.

More recently, a man was arrested after intelligence garnered by police indicated that he intended to attack Lankri with a grenade. The man was questioned and later released, and there was no indication of a connection with Thursday’s shooting.

Lankri, a former career officer in the IDF, was first elected mayor of Acre in 2003. On Sunday, he said he would like to run for mayor for the third time, indicating that the attempt on his life hadn’t broken his political resolve.

FDNY/EMS workers post private photos of patients online

The New York paramedic who became the center of a firestorm over racist tweets is also a part of a disturbing practice of posting photos of the victims that emergency personnel are paid to help.

Timothy Dluhos, the self-professed 'bad lieutenant' who works as an EMT with the Fire Department of New York, had posted photos of accident victims - a violation of federal privacy regulations - that were seen along with his hate-filled Twitter rants.

In one instance, he posted a photo of an obese woman in a wheelchair, and added the words 'wide load.'

The New York Post reported exclusively that Dluhos is not alone, as a number of EMTs post gruesome photos on their social media pages or in what are known as 'gore books.'

A former EMT, who was not identified, told the paper that the practice is common, saying: 'Lots of people have them - patients galore, all ripped apart and mangled,' he said.

One image posted to the EMT/Paramedic Facebook page show victims with horrific wounds suffered in everything from accidents to vicious assaults.

Some emergency officials have made the posting of such graphic images into a contest.

The EMT source told the Post: 'I saw one where this victim’s head and spinal column were completely removed from his body,' he said.

An image posted by another FDNY EMT, Anthony Palmigiano, showed a startling open neck wound.

When contacted by the Post, Palmigiano said that someone had hacked into his Facebook account and posted the gruesome images on his behalf.

As for Dluhos, his Twitter account has since been taken down.

He broke down in tears on the street last week when he was confronted by a Post reporter over racist tweets and offense comments he made on the microblogging site.

His postings called New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is Jewish, 'King Heeb,' and referred to black people as 'coloreds' and Asians 'chinks,' according to reports.

He also tweeted that his most prized possession is Nazi gold pin with a German U-Boat and a swastika.

The FDNY has said that Dluhos' posts are 'under review.'

The Post reported that Dluhos' online comments are part of a troubling epidemic at the FDNY, which is so packed with white men that federal courts have ordered it to change its hiring practices and become more diverse.

'He is not an isolated case,' retired veteran of the city EMS said of Dluhos. 'He’s a symptom of a sick system. If you work in the city for police, fire or EMS and tell me you’re surprised by this, you’re a liar.'

The 34-year-old veteran of the department made 93,000 in 2011.

His behavior is the latest in a series of troublesome social media mishaps for the FDNY.

The son of New York City's fire commissioner resigned earlier this month following his apology for posting offensive messages on Twitter.

Joseph Cassano worked as a fire department emergency medical technician.

Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano calls the situation 'very painful.' He said Monday he loves his son and believes his resignation was the right decision.

The commissioner said the department has worked hard to achieve diversity, inclusiveness and a good reputation.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was among those who found Cassano's messages offensive.

The younger Cassano said he regretted the posts and had treated every patient with great care and respect.

The New York Post reported the statements included a derogatory term to describe blacks, and a tweet stating he liked Jews about as much as Hitler did.

Tests found major flaws in parolee GPS monitoring devices

A little more than a year ago, California quietly began conducting tests on the GPS monitoring devices that track the movements of thousands of sex offenders.

The results were alarming.

Corrections officials found the devices used in half the state were so inaccurate and unreliable that the public was "in imminent danger."

Batteries died early, cases cracked, reported locations were off by as much as three miles. Officials also found that tampering alerts failed and offenders were able to disappear by covering the devices with foil, deploying illegal GPS jammers or ducking into cars or buildings.

The state abruptly ordered parole agents to remove every ankle monitor in use from north of Los Angeles to the Oregon border. In their place, they strapped on devices made by a different manufacturer — a mass migration that left California's criminal tracking system not operational for several hours.

The test results provide a glimpse of the blind spots in electronic monitoring, even as those systems are promoted to law enforcement agencies as a safe alternative to incarceration. The flaws in the equipment raise the question of whether the state can deliver what Jessica's Law promised when voters approved it in 2006: round-the-clock tracking of serious sex offenders.

In a lawsuit over the state's GPS contracting, corrections attorneys persuaded a judge to seal information about the failures, arguing that test results could show criminals how to avoid being tracked and give parole violators grounds to appeal convictions.

The information, they warned, would "erode public trust" in electronic monitoring programs. The devices, they said, deter crime only if offenders believe their locations are being tracked every minute.

"The more reliable the devices are believed to be, the less likely a parolee may be to attempt to defeat the system," GPS program director Denise Milano wrote in a court statement.

State officials say the replacement devices have largely resolved the problems, but officials so far have refused to release test data showing what, if any, improvements were gained.

Through interviews and by comparing censored documents obtained from multiple sources, The Times was able to piece together most of what the state persuaded the courts to black out.

GPS tracking devices are designed to alert authorities if the wearer tampers with the device, tries to flee or strays too close to a school or other forbidden area. Currently, 7,900 high-risk California parolees and felons — most of them sex offenders or gang members — wear the devices strapped to their ankles.

The monitors work by picking up signals from GPS satellites and transmitting the location information by cellular networks to a central computer. Just like GPS devices used by drivers or hikers, the monitors can fail where buildings block signals or where cell reception is spotty.

But that is not the monitoring system's sole vulnerability: A Times investigation in February found that thousands of child molesters, rapists and other high-risk parolees were removing or disarming their tracking devices — often with little risk of serving time for it because California's jails are too full to hold them.

The state's testing was conducted as part of a winner-take-all contest for the nation's largest electronic monitoring contract, worth more than $51 million over six years. Industry experts said they were the most exhaustive field trials they had seen.

When statewide monitoring began in 2008, California split the work between a division of 3M Co. and Houston-based Satellite Tracking of People, or STOP. The 3M device was used to track some 4,000 parolees in all but six Southern California counties. STOP had the rest of the state, including Los Angeles.

When California later sought to switch to a single provider, 3M came in with the low bid.

For a week in late 2011, parole agents abused both companies' devices. They were dropped four feet onto concrete, wrapped in foil to block their signals and submerged as long as three hours in a swimming pool. Testers allowed batteries to run dead, cut ankle straps and traveled into areas beyond the reach of satellite and cellular phone signals.

Without revealing full details of the tests, officials declared 3M's devices so faulty that the state rejected the company's bid. When 3M protested, Milano began a second round of tests that she said showed 3M's ankle monitors posed a public safety emergency.

The state claimed that 3M's devices failed to meet 46 of 102 field-tested standards for the equipment, although the company said a fourth of the failures occurred because the state had not provided the phone numbers needed to send automated text alerts.

One agent who participated in the tests, Denise LeBard, said in a court statement that 3M's ankle monitors were "inundated with defects."

Among the problems: 3M's devices failed to collect a GPS location every minute, phone in that information every 10 minutes and forward a text message to a parole agent if a problem was detected. Without revealing how well STOP performed, the state said 3M collected only 45% of the possible GPS points.

Testers also were able to fool 3M's GPS devices by wrapping monitors in foil, something that triggers an alarm on STOP's device because it has a metal detector.

Engineers and experts within 3M's electronic monitoring division vigorously dispute the alleged faults. They accused California of rigging the tests to steer the contract to STOP.

"This is one agency's testing," said Steve Chapin, vice president of government relations for 3M's electronic monitoring division. "We have the most widely used system in the world. It's been proven time and time and time again to be very safe and reliable."

In a heavily censored declaration, Milano also disclosed a test in which the 3M ankle monitor failed to "wake" from a battery-saving sleep mode, creating uncertainty about an offender's location. She cited the rest mode issue, along with what she described as a four-year history of other problems, as grounds to order parole agents in April 2012 to immediately replace every state-issued 3M monitor in California with one from STOP.

3M argued in court that GPS signals are blocked so frequently that no ankle monitor can really distinguish between accidental and deliberate interference. Its device triggers tamper alerts only when both GPS and cell signals are lost for more than two minutes, a feature even the company said is not foolproof.

"Neither 3M nor STOP can produce a device that will read the offender's mind to determine his or her intent, so the devices can only 'assume' that a tamper is intentional," 3M said.

A Sacramento County judge in February ruled that Milano had violated state contract laws, but he upheld her decision that 3M failed state standards.

Industry experts say the issues raised with 3M are not unique to that company, and problems with the state's monitoring system probably still exist.

Peggy Conway, editor of the Journal of Offender Monitoring, said every electronic monitoring system has blind spots and weaknesses.

"There is no one perfect product," she said.

By Paige St John - LA Times

הרב שמטפל בפדופילים: "הם לא אנשים רעים"

הרב אבינועם כהן

מדי שנה בחג הפסח משתחררים המוני אסירים מבתי הכלא בישראל. בתקופה זו של השנה, נוהג שירות בתי הסוהר "לעגל" את מועדי השחרורים בכמה שבועות. בין המשוחררים, אסירים שהורשעו בעבירות קשות: אונס, שוד, מרמה ורצח. גם אלי ופיני (שמות בדויים) הם עבריינים שיצאו לחופשי בחג החירות. השניים הם פדופילים מורשעים; הם מעלו באמון הבסיסי ביותר הקיים בחברה, בין אנשים שרוצים לחיות בשלווה זה לצד זה ולגדל את ילדיהם בבטחה.

כעת הם מדברים על הכל. על הפגיעה המינית שחוו בילדותם, על הפעם הראשונה שחשו במשיכה החולנית לילדים, על המאבק בין היצר למוסר. הם מתארים כיצד פסעו על הגבול שבין הריגוש לסיוט, בין הרצון להיכנע, להיות מי שהם, לפחד להיתפס. רובנו לא רוצה לשמוע את קולם. אנחנו מעדיפים לראות אותם נעולים מאחורי סורג ובריח, להתרחק עד כמה שניתן מהתודעה המעוותת שהולידה פגיעה בלתי נסלחת בילד. רובנו לא רוצה להבין את הבעיה, כדי לחפש לה פתרון.

"גיליתי שילדים מושכים אותי יותר מנשים"

במשך 15 שנה פגע אלי, חרדי בן 39 מירושלים, ב-20 ילדים בני 14-8. פעם אחר פעם, יצא לחפש לו קרבן בגן ציבורי בגבעת מרדכי או בסמטה צדדית בשכונת סנהדריה. "הייתי רואה ילד יפה, מתחיל לדבר אתו, להתקרב אליו, ואז בזמן שלא היו משגיחים בי הייתי מבצע את המעשים ומסתלק", הוא משחזר.

"כשחזרתי הביתה הייתי אומר לעצמי שלא מעניין אותי אם הילד הזה לא אשם במה שקרה לי, אני לא מתחשב באף אחד ועושה מה שאני רוצה. אחרי כמה דקות, הייתי מבין את גודל החטא, מתפלל לקדוש ברוך הוא שיסלח לי. כל פעם שלא התלוננו עלי, כל פעם שלא נתפסתי, קיבלתי את זה כאישור להמשך מעשיי".

זרעי המחלה נזרעו בו ערב אחד, בגן שכוח אל. כמו במקרים דומים רבים, גם אלי היה ילד נטוש ופגוע. גם הוא נתקל בחומת אטימות תרבותית וקהילתית וגדל לעשות לאחרים את מה שעשו לו. "הייתי בן תשע", הוא נזכר. "ערב ירד וחזרתי הביתה. סמוך לגן ציבורי ניגש אלי נער בן 16 אולי, שלא הכרתי, וביקש לדבר איתי. הלכתי אליו והוא ביצע בי מעשים מגונים. רצתי הביתה והדבר הראשון שעשיתי זה לספר להוריי, אבל הם לא האמינו לי". הפצע לא הגליד והילד החל לחפש נקמה. "הכעס הציף אותי. אם מישהו עשה לי משהו כזה ולא מאמינים לי, סימן שזה משהו שמותר לעשות".

החיים נמשכו ואלי גדל והיה לבחור. כאשר היה תלמיד ישיבה, חזרה אליו הפגיעה הישנה בתצורה חדשה. "הייתי בן 20 וחשבתי לגדל בית ומשפחה. בהתחלה לא הייתי מודע לזה, אך עד מהרה גיליתי שילדים מושכים אותי יותר מנשים".

אמרת שאתה נמשך גם לנשים. המשיכה לילדים זהה?

"לא, זה משהו אחר ועוצמתי הרבה יותר. אני לא חושב על לשכב עם ילד כמו שאני חושב על אישה. המחשבה הזו, כשהיא עולה, היא אובססיבית ובלתי נשלטת. אתה מפסיק לחשוב בהגיון ובעצם נשלט על ידי הדחפים שלך. אי אפשר להתנגד לזה. זה כמו סיפור או חלום שאתה רואה מול העיניים. אני רואה ילד יפה מגיע קרוב אלי, בלי בגדים, עירום ואני נוגע בו בלי לדבר".

מה זה ילד יפה?

"עיניים כחולות, עור לבן, שיער בלונדיני בתספורת קסדה אופיינית. האופי לא משחק תפקיד. כשאני רואה ילד כזה, הוא יכול להיות דומיננטי או חלש, לשתף פעולה או להתנגד. לא משנה לי איך הוא יגיב".

מדוע רק ילדים ולא ילדות?

"אני לא ממש יודע. התחושה היא כאילו משהו נתקע אצלי בגיל תשע ומסרב להמשיך הלאה, כמו תקליט שרוט. אותו מצב שלא נפתר חוזר אלי שוב ושוב. לצורך העניין, אני מניח שאם הייתה תוקפת אותי נערה באותו הערב, הייתי נמשך לילדות".

ברבות השנים, כשהתלונות הצטברו ונבנה קלסתרון של תוקף הילדים, הצליחו בלשי המשטרה לשים עליו את ידיהם. "אני זוכר איך ההורים חיפשו אותי, התקשרו לטלפון שלי מספר פעמים, ואז התקשרתי מבית המעצר ואמרתי לאמי שאני עצור. למחרת היא הגיעה יחד עם אבי, שהיה על כיסא גלגלים. היה להם מאוד קשה, אבל כשהסתכלתי להם בלבן של העיניים אמרתי את מה שהם כבר ידעו – אתם אשמים בכל זה, כי אם הייתם מאמינים לי, מנסים להבין מה קרה לי כל זה לא היה קורה".

אחרי שישב שנתיים בכלא, נשבע אלי שלא ישוב לסורו. "ישר כשהשתחררתי ביקשתי לעבור טיפול. הגעתי לרשות לשיקום האסיר שם פגשתי באבינועם כהן – מנהל המחלקה התורנית ברשות. הוא אמר לי שאם אני רוצה עזרה עליי להיכנס למעגל תרופתי-טיפולי. זה מאבק פנימי בכל יום מחדש, מלחמה על החיים שלך. הם נמצאים בכל מקום, בתחנות האוטובוס, בגנים ציבורים, בקרן הרחוב. המלחמה נמשכת בחזרה לחיים תקינים, במציאת מקום עבודה, בחברים, במשפחה, מול הרשויות אבל זה תלוי ברצון שלך".

היום כשאתה רואה ילד, מה אתה חש?

"הזריקה עוזרת לי. היא מורידה את החשק המיני ועם הזמן הפנטזיות מתערפלות. אבל גם אם אני נתקל במישהו שאני קורא לו יפה, בתחנה או ברחוב, אני זז הצדה, מנסה להתעלם. למרות התרופה, אני לא רוצה להעמיד את עצמי במבחן".

יש לך מסר להעביר לילדים שפגעת בהם?

"הייתי רוצה לבקש מהם סליחה, אבל אני יודע שאני לא יכול. מה שנעשה אין לו מחילה. כל מה שאני יכול לומר הוא שהייתי אז אדם שונה, פגוע, שלא קיבל טיפול מעולם ולא הבין מה חומרת מעשיו. היום אני יודע שאני רוצח בדם קר. יש דם של 20 ילדים על ידיי, דם שאותו לא אוכל לנקות לעולם".

"קבעתי עם אחד הנערים, שנראה לי 'זורם' יותר"

פיני, בן 45, אב לשישה, היה אברך חרדי מן השורה, אף הוא תושב ירושלים. את הפגיעה המינית שעבר בילדותו הוא זוכר רק במעורפל. ב-2008 הוא הורשע בביצוע מעשים מגונים בנערה בת 14 ובנער בן גילה, ונשלח לשלוש שנים וחצי בכלא.

"עבדתי בלונה פארק והיא הייתה אחת הנערות שבאו לבקר", הוא משחזר. "היו רגעים של התלבטות, אבל הערפל של התאווה אליה גבר. אחרי כמה ימים של פנטזיות החל להירקם במוחי תכנון כיצד לבצע את המעשים. ביקשתי ממנה להתלוות אתי לאחד המחסנים של בעל הבית כדי לבודד אותה, הושבתי אותה על אחת החבילות במחסן, ביקשתי ממנה נשיקה, ליטפתי אותה ונגעתי בה בחזה. אמרתי לה לא לספר מה שקרה כי אז אהיה אבוד. היא שתקה ואני ידעתי שהמשטרה מחכה לי".

למחרת נעצר פיני, אך מערכת אכיפת החוק עבדה לאט. "סמכו על זה שהמסר נקלט. זה דבר איום ונורא לעשות. אם היו עוצרים את זה אז לא הייתי פוגע אחרים. הרגשתי בעננים, הבנתי שאני יכול להמשיך".

לא עבר זמן רב ופיני פגש שלושה נערים חרדים במרכז קניות. "המפגש הראשון לא היה מתוכנן. ביקשתי מהם להתלוות אליי למעיין. אבל שם, במים, עלו בי העיוותים. אני זוכר את עצמי מתבונן ברגליים שלהם במים, בגופם הרטוב, ומתכנן כיצד אני מבודד אחד מהם". יום לאחר מכן חזר פיני למעיין. הוא תכנן את מעשיו בקפידה. "קבעתי עם אחד הנערים שנראה לי 'זורם' יותר. נכנסנו לנקבה. התחלתי לפשוט את בגדינו, דיברתי אתו דברי אהבה ונגעתי באיבריו המוצנעים. כמו בפעם הקודמת, המשטרה המתינה לי, ומזה כבר לא יצאתי".

איך אדם כמוך, בן 40, נשוי ואב לשישה, מתחיל פתאום להתעסק עם נערים ונערות?

"הייתה לי תמיד משיכה לבשר הצעיר. בבר המצווה שלי אני זוכר את עצמי מפנטז על נערים בגילי, אלא שאני גדלתי והפנטזיות נשארו באותו הגיל. הייתי מודע לכך אבל לא עסקתי בזה יותר מדי. ידעתי שיש לזה מחיר. הפחד עדיין מנע ממני לפעול עד לרגע שהרגשתי שיש לי כוח, סמכות, אז החולשות גברו בי. נתתי לעצמי תירוצים לא הגיוניים שזה איכשהו יעבור בלי שאני אסתבך".

גם לילדים שלך נמשכת?

"לא, משום שזה בשר מבשרך. זה כמו אח ואבא ביחד, לא משהו שיכול למשוך אותך, אבל אני יכול לדבר כמובן רק בשם עצמי, אני יודע שיש מקרים שזה קורה בתוך המשפחה. אני נפגש איתם אחת לתקופה אך עם השגחה של דמות בוגרת. הם סבלו מהסיפור הזה רבות, ובסופו של דבר נאלצו לעבור למקום אחר. אשתי נעלבה מאוד מעצם העובדה שאני מעדיף נערים על פניה וביקשה להתגרש. היום זה נראה לי דבר מגעיל. אני אוכל את עצמי איך הגעתי למצב הזה שאני חלק מהקבוצה ומההגדרה הזו".

אתה יכול לומר שיש ניסיון בחברה החרדית להסתיר עבירות כאלו מרשויות החוק?

"כן. זה נובע בעיקר מחוסר אמון ברשויות וגם מבורות ומחוסר הבנה של הנזק ושל ההשפעה שיש לפגיעה כזו על הילדים. הרב ינסה בדרך כלל לסגור את הטיפול הזה בתוך הקהילה, למרות שלאחרונה יש פתיחות יותר לחשיבות של התערבות הרשויות".

את הטיפול ברשות לשיקום האסיר התחיל פיני עוד במהלך ריצוי העונש. "הרגשתי שאני מתחיל לעמוד על הקרקע, לקחת אחריות. הטיפול כולל פירוט של הליך העבירה, מפגשי פיקוח, שיחה על העבירות. זה לא דבר קל, להבין מה שעשית. זה מאבק יומיומי מול היצרים, מול עצמך", הוא משחזר.

"בהתחלה רציתי לגור בראש הר רחוק מכל יישוב. אבל אחר כך הבנתי שאני לא יכול להיעלם. מה אני יכול לעשות, לגור במערות? אני רוצה לומר תודה בעיקר לאבינועם כהן, על הרצון שלו לעזור. הרב אבינועם לא רואה את העבודה שלו בתור משרה אלא בתור פרויקט אישי. יש לו שליחות חברתית, שליחות יהודית תורנית. הוא לא מנסה רק להגן עלינו אלא גם להגן על החברה מאתנו ולמנוע מצבים דומים כאלו בעתיד".

אתה חושב שתפגע בילדים נוספים בעתיד?

"אף אחד לא יכול להבטיח לך שיצליח לגבור על יצריו, במיוחד אני, שכבר נכשלתי. אבל אני מנסה מאוד שלא. אני מנסה לחשוב על הקרבן, מה הוא צריך לעבור, על מה אני אצטרך לעבור, לזכור את זה בתודעה שלי".

יש לך מסר למי שנמצא בשלב הפנטזיות והתכנון ועדיין לא פגע?

"שתמיד אפשר לחדול ולהציל את המצב. ללכת לטיפולים, לדבר עם אנשי מקצוע, עם מי שיודע להבין את הנפש. להסביר את המשמעות של מה שעובר עליך, ובמיוחד לאנשים בעלי יכולות כלכליות - כדאי להשקיע לפני שימצאו את עצמם בדרך ללא מוצא. מי שיודע שיש לו את החולשה הזו ולא פגע, טוב יעשה אם יחשוף את חולשתו בפני חבר נאמן. רבים לא עושים זאת בגלל בושה, אך אני יכול לומר, מהניסיון שלי, שהבושה כשנתפסתי הייתה גדולה הרבה יותר".

"המכה הקשה ביותר היא הבגידה של ההורים"

כל אסיר שמשתחרר, ובפרט כל פדופיל מורשע, נמצא במעקב ובטיפול של הרשות לשיקום האסיר. מנהל המחלקה התורנית ברשות, הרב אבינועם כהן שאלי ופיני מדברים בשבחו, מופקד על הסיוע לאסירים החרדים. כהן כבר ראה הכל. פסיכולוגים נעזרים בעצותיו, הרשויות בהוראותיו ובתי משפט - בדעותיו. לאחר ניסיון של עשרות ומאות מקרים, נדמה שהוא מבין טוב יותר מכל אחד אחר את מוחם המעוות של עברייני המין.

מה לדעתך גורם לקרבן פדופיליה להיות בעצמו פדופיל?

"75% מהפדופילים נפגעו בעצמם בילדותם. זו החוויה המינית הראשונה שנטבעת בזיכרון. כשיצר המין מתחיל להתפתח הוא מתלבש על התמונה הראשונה שהוא מכיר. המכה הקשה ביותר לקרבן פגיעה מינית זו הבגידה של ההורים שלו. חלק מהתהליך הריפוי זה הגשת התלונה של הקורבן נגד המקרבן, ההתעמתות אתו, התוצאה והעיבוד של המעשה. כשההורים מתכחשים למה שנעשה הם זורעים בקורבן כעס, נקמה והבנה של המסר השגוי, שאם לא עושים עם זה שום דבר כשאני התלוננתי אז סימן שזה לא כל כך נורא. סימן שזה מותר".

איך אתה מסביר את התופעה של פדופיליה רדומה שמתפרצת פתאום באמצע החיים אצל הורים וסבים?

"יש כאלה שזה היה אצלם זרוע וטמון הרבה שנים, היה להם חשש, מה יקרה אם יתפסו אותי, ולכן עדיין הייתה השפעה של הגבולות על המעשים שלהם. הם פנטזו כל חייהם, אך זה נשלט ובשלב מסוים של חולשה בחיים זה התפרץ. מרגע שהרצועה המוסרית הותרה המעשים יבוצעו תוך תכנון מדוקדק – בניית מעגל תקיפה מסודר, מתי הילדים נמצאים, איפה הילדים מסתובבים, מה הם אוהבים.

"אופציה אחרת קשורה למנגנון נפש שונה שיכול לגרום לפגיעה כזו 'להירדם' לשנים רבות אך כשמתחילות צרות, כשאין סיפוק מיני מהאישה, מחפשים קרבנות זמינים מהילדות. ישנה אפשרות שגם מי שנפגע מינית בילדותו יתחתן ויחיה חיים נורמליים; אך עד שהוא לא יעבד את החוויה השלילית שהוא עבר, הדבר הזה לא יניח לו".

מדוע רבים המקרים שבציבור החרדי לא פונים לרשויות והדבר מושתק בתוך הקהילה?

"ההיסטוריה מול הציונות לא התחילה מעכשיו. אין לקהילה הזו אמון לא במשטרה ולא במוסדות. הדבר יכול לבוא גם ממקום של בורות מוחלטת לגבי מה שעושה עבירת מין לילד – מבחינתם זה יצר רע קטן שהתלבש על מישהו שפגע, לעתים מאשימים בחוסר צניעות את הקרבן, אומרים לו מה אתה עשית שהבאת את זה על עצמך. ישנו גם חשש שאם ידעו שהילד עבר פגיעה מינית זה יכול לגרום לבעיות בשידוכים עתידיים. הם לא מבינים שכשיגיע יומו והוא ילך להתחתן הוא יחווה חוויות קשות עם אשתו. הוא יסלוד מזה פתאום, יגיב לזה בצורות משונות משום שכל העניין המיני אצלו פגוע. הם לא מבינים מהי טובתו האמיתית מאותה נקודה של בורות".

יש דרך לטפל בפדופיל?

"אם לאדם יש קוגניציה מפותחת יש אפשרות לטפל בטיפול קבוצתי, אך היום יש גם גישות פרטניות ואפילו טיפול למכחישנים. ניתן לטפל בפדופילים. אני מכיר כאלה שאפילו התחתנו. צריך להתייחס לפדופיליה כמו לכל תאווה אסורה אחרת. ישנם אנשים שהתמכרו לסיגריות, לשוקולד או למין עם נשותיהם. לפדופיל יש משיכה לילדים, אבל זה עדיין תאווה ותאווה זה דבר שניתן לעבוד עליו, צריך רק את הכלים הנכונים".

Belarus Jewish leader convicted of tax evasion, sentenced to time already served

Yuri Dorn, a Jewish community leader in Belarus, was convicted for tax evasion but set free after a year in jail.

Dorn, president of the Union of Religious Jewish Congregations in Belarus, was arrested in March 2012 on allegations that he had mismanaged the community’s property for personal gain. Police also said Dorn had been caught accepting a $13,000 bribe in a sting operation. Prosecutors had accused Dorn of renting out space belonging to the Jewish community without permission,

Earlier this week, Dorn pleaded guilty to tax evasion but denied charges that he abused his position or rented out space without permission.

The latter charges were dismissed by the judge at the Central District Court of Minsk on Friday. The judge convicted Dorn of evading taxes but said the year Dorn spent in prison was his penance for the offense, according to the Interfax news agency.

In an interview after his release for Liberty Radio, Dorn said he would resign from his position as president of the Union of Religious Jewish Congregations. He was placed under house arrest until the sentence goes into effect, Intefax reported. Dorn does not intend to appeal the verdict, according to the news agency.

On March 21, prosecutor Tatiana Rak asked the court to hand down a five-year sentence to be served in a medium-security facility.

Last month, prosecutors in Minsk dropped bribery charges that were included initially in their indictment.

Boris Berezovsky: 'My friend Boris would not have taken his own life'

Akhmed Zakayev

Akhmed Zakayev takes a sip of black tea and pauses before offering his assessment of the mystery surrounding the death of the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky.

“I don’t believe it was suicide,” he states. “My friend would not have taken his own life.”

Despite the evidence pointing to a suicide, the discovery of Mr Berezovsky’s body at his home last Saturday led to immediate speculation that, once again, the long reach of President Vladimir Putin was behind the death of one of his inconvenient critics.

Mr Zakayev, the exiled “Prime Minister” of the Chechen Republic, bitter enemy of President Putin and a close friend and confidante of Mr Berezovsky, has more reason than most to believe this.

After all, he was himself the target of an assassination plot in London, revealed by MI5 in April last year. It is the very frequency of these incidents that makes him doubt the theory that Mr Berezovsky took his own life. And certainly, with the death of Mr Berezovsky, President Putin has lost one of his most high-profile opponents.  

In October 2006 Anna Politkovskaya, a campaigning journalist and vocal critic of the President, was shot dead at her Moscow home. A few weeks later, Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer, died in London after his tea was spiked with radioactive polonium-210, on the suspected orders of the Kremlin.

Over the years, a series of senior Chechen separatists and opposition figures have been assassinated while in exile, one blown up by Russian military intelligence in his jeep in Qatar.

“First Anna is shot in Moscow, then Alexander is poisoned in London. My life is in constant danger. And now Boris Berezovsky is suddenly found dead? I’m not a proponent of conspiracy theories, but this raises many disturbing questions,” says Mr Zakayev, who knew all three victims well.

“Nobody among those who knew Berezovsky thinks it was suicide,” he goes on. “We all know the Russian secret service works on a world stage against Putin’s opponents and anyone who criticises his government. This death is part of a pattern.”

The body of the Russian oligarch was found by his bodyguard on the bathroom floor of his Ascot home. A ligature was round his neck and a piece of the same material was tied to the shower rail above his body.

The opening of the inquest into his death, held at Windsor Guildhall last Wednesday, heard that there had been no signs of a violent struggle.

The bare facts – pointing towards suicide – chimed with recent reports that Mr Berezovsky was depressed and had received treatment in Israel and at the Priory clinic.

His personal and business life had suffered several costly setbacks. Last year he lost a private action for £3 billion in damages against fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea FC, whom he had accused of blackmailing him into selling off business interests in the Sibneft oil giant at a fraction of their true worth.

It was the biggest private court case in British history and cost Mr Berezovsky millions. The previous year, he had been forced to hand over a reported £100 million in a divorce settlement to his former wife, Galina Besharova, 53, and only last January his former lover, Elena Gorbunova, began legal proceedings against him, claiming she too was owed millions.

The judge in that case described Mr Berezovsky as “a man under financial pressure”, an impression compounded when news emerged that the oligarch was attempting to sell a limited-edition Andy Warhol portrait of Lenin at Christie’s.

Some observers said Mr Berezovsky had recently begun to cut an increasingly isolated figure, worn down by recent defeats.

In Mr Berezovsky’s last interview, with a Russian reporter from Forbes magazine, he reflected that during his years in exile he had lost his bearings.

“I shouldn’t have left Russia,” he said the day before he died. “I lost the meaning… The meaning of life. I don’t want to engage in politics now. I don’t know what I should do now. I am 67 years old. And I don’t know what I should do.”

It was against this background that his bodyguard, not having seen Mr Berezovsky for several hours and growing increasingly anxious, broke down the bathroom door around 3pm last Saturday and discovered his lifeless body.

But such is the level of anxiety and distrust among opponents of the Russian president that the conclusion that Mr Berezovsky did indeed take his own life in a moment of despair has been greeted with scepticism and disbelief.

That was compounded when Thames Valley police admitted that nothing could be ruled out of their investigation until they had received the results of toxicology and histology tests on Mr Berezovsky. These are unlikely to be available for several weeks.

Mr Zakayev, a straight-backed, steel-haired former actor and friend of Vanessa Redgrave, insists there is nobody among those who truly knew his friend who believe the suicide theory.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph at the Hilton Hotel, in London’s Park Lane, a small badge of the Chechen Republic pinned to the lapel of his immaculate black suit, Mr Zakayev said: “I can assure you that Boris was not the kind of person who would harm himself.

“His friends and family can confirm that as well. He loved life and was not planning on leaving it any time soon.”

Mr Zakayev had recently spoken to his old friend. They first met on opposing sides of the negotiating table following the first Chechen war of independence against Russia. At that point, in 1996, Mr Berezovsky was a trusted ally of Mr Putin.

But the pair fell out and Mr Berezovsky and Mr Zakayev became political as well as personal friends, united by their hatred of President Putin.

“The last time I spoke to him we laughed and reminisced about what we have seen over the years we have known each other,” said Mr Zakayev, 53. “His mood was good, not that of a person contemplating taking his own life. He had many business plans and ventures he wanted to undertake.”

Indeed, Mr Berezovsky had made arrangements to visit Israel for business on the Monday after his body was found. Mr Zakayev said his friend had booked his hotel and informed his bodyguard, Avi Navama, 32, a former Mossad agent, of the trip.

Although Mr Berezovsky had recently been forced to reduce his security detail, some of whom were former members of the Foreign Legion, he had known his bodyguard for several years and, according to Mr Zakayev, trusted him completely.

Mr Berezovsky’s family have been left devastated by his death. In a brief statement issued last week, his 19-year-old daughter, Anastasia, described her father as an “extraordinary” man and spoke of the family’s huge sense of loss.

In the hours after his death, Mr Zakayev rang another of Mr Berezovsky’s daughters, Katya, who flew to France to comfort her grandmother, Berezovsky’s mother Anna, who is in her late eighties.

During the telephone conversation Katya, a Cambridge graduate, told Mr Zakayev: “This is a very hard time for us. We have been hit very hard by his death. But none of us believe he took his own life.

“He was a great father. He may not have been a great husband but he was a perfect father and he loved all his children very much.”

Katya was one of two children from Mr Berezovsky’s first wife, Nina. It fell to her sister, Elizaveta, an artist, to formally identify his body last week. Mr Berezovsky had two other children, Artem, 23, and Anastasia, from Galina, whom he married in 1991, and a further two, Arina and Gleb, from Miss Gorbunova.

His love life matched a larger-than-life persona. A professor of mathematics on a salary of barely 500 roubles a month (then worth a few hundred pounds) Mr Berezovsky emerged from the ruins of the Soviet Union to become one of a small group of businessmen overseeing the break-up of state-owned industries.

Using his charm, political contacts and powers of persuasion, as well as his financial acumen, Mr Berezovsky acquired a huge fortune, first by taking advantage of the collapse of Communist controls to establish a dealership allowing him to sell Russian-made cars abroad at a substantial profit.

He backed Yeltsin as president in 1996 and reaped the rewards when state-owned firms were put up for sale, buying the state airline Aeroflot and amassing a £3 billion fortune.

There are now moves by Russian prosecutors to confiscate Mr Berezovsky’s remaining wealth. Mr Zakayev cites this as another reason for the Kremlin to have an interest in his friend’s death.

Even before Mr Berezovsky’s death, those opponents of Mr Putin who fled the former Soviet Union to seek refuge in London had been under no illusion that their safety was guaranteed.

Before leaving – his next appointment is with Alexander Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, who had been assisted financially by Mr Berezovsky in her attempt to seek justice for her husband – Mr Zakayev points out that the British authorities believe there are now more Russian spies in London than during the Cold War.

“In 2006 the Russian parliament, under Putin’s initiative, passed a law allowing its secret services to liquidate 'enemies of the state’ inside Russia or even outside it,” he says, adding: “The suicide theory is very convenient for everyone, for both Russia and the British authorities. If it’s established that there has been yet another murder in the UK of someone who found protection here, it will discredit Britain and hurt her image.

“We must obviously await the outcome of the police investigation, but at the moment it doesn’t appear to add up. If a person hangs himself, then the cord and whatever it is attached to either breaks at the moment of the drop — in which case he survives – or they hold fast and the person dies. So how did Boris end up dead on the floor?

“Also, remember Vladimir Putin’s famous phrase in 1999 about so-called terrorists: 'If we catch them in the toilet, we’ll rub them out there, in the bog’. If someone killed Boris, then maybe that was a subtle message to Putin that his wishes have been realised.”

Several of Mr Berezovsky’s colleagues acknowledge that recent setbacks in his life had left him feeling “oppressed and tormented”, particularly his court defeat to Mr Abramovich. But Mr Zakayev denies his friend had lost either his ambition or the will to live. “Failures and disappointments, such as the ones he suffered recently, only made him stronger,” he said.

Whatever emerges over the next few weeks, there are still many who will maintain that, however Mr Berezovsky met his death, it is the Kremlin that bears ultimate responsibility.

Yuli Dubov, a writer who had known Boris Berezovsky for more than 40 years and was one of his closest associates in London, was one of the first on the scene after Mr Berezovsky’s body was found.

Mr Dubov told The Sunday Telegraph: “Boris’s second wife, Galina, had already arrived with their son and daughter and gone inside. Galina was very emotional.

“What’s certain for me is that Boris was killed by the years of pressure and character assassination by the Russian authorities. Whatever the cause of death, they were the ones who killed him.”

Before going off to comfort Mrs Litvinenko for the loss of their mutual friend, Mr Zakayev reflected on the tragedies that continue to afflict and unite those determined to stand up to President Putin.

“I have lost many friends over the years, and every time I lose another it is a grievous blow to me,” he said. “I know my life is also under constant threat, but to stop fighting now, to disappear, would be to betray all of those friends who have died.”
By Patrick Sawer and Tom Parfitt - Telegraph

Kremlin to target family of dead oligarch Boris Berezovsky for $450m it claims he owes Russian state

The Kremlin is to pursue the family of dead oligarch Boris Berezovsky over £300 million it claims he owed the Russian state.

Mr Berezovsky, 67, was found dead at his estate in Ascot, Berkshire, on March 23 after spending 13 years in exile campaigning against Vladimir Putin's regime. But yesterday Moscow said it would target

Mr Berezovsky's 'heirs' to recover his fortune, which it said belonged to the Russian government.

The move led to claims that Putin was persecuting Mr Berezovsky's family in the same way that he had orchestrated a 'campaign of harassment' against the tycoon while he was alive.

Mr Berezovsky's friends have blamed the Kremlin's 'war of litigation' for his recent depression which many believe contributed to his death. A post mortem revealed that his injuries were consistent with hanging.

The claims against Mr Berezovsky's 'heirs' relate to money Moscow prosecutors say belongs to national airline Aeroflot and the AvtoVAZ car company.

Mr Berezovsky's six children, two former wives and former girlfriend face defending legal action from Russian investigators in the UK, where many of them live.

Mr Berezovsky's former £2 billion fortune had been reduced by a divorce settlement of £200 million for his second wife Galina Besharova, 53.

He also ran up lawyers' bills of £150 million, while former partner Yelena Gorbunova had secured a court order freezing £200 million of his assets.

The oligarch's property portfolio, including the £20 million Ascot mansion, is vulnerable to litigation.

Acutely aware that the Kremlin might one day come after his family, Mr Berezovsky had set up elaborate offshore trusts to protect his former wives and his children.

In a separate development, The Mail on Sunday has learned that Mr Berezovsky was due to tell the inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko that the former spy was working with Western agencies investigating Putin over money-laundering allegations.

Mr Berezovsky had spent the last weeks of his life preparing his evidence for the inquest. But in a new twist, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Sir Robert Owen, the coroner who will hear the Litvinenko case, had told him to submit his witness statement to the court by Friday, March 22.

Mr Berezovsky's body was found shortly after 3pm the next day.

Mr Berezovsky had not filed his statement to the court and his lawyers are seeking instructions from his family about how to proceed with the oligarch's crucial evidence.

A Kremlin spokesman would not comment on the allegations.

IDF launches 'kosher' version of in-house magazine for Haredi soldiers

For the first time in the IDF, the magazine ‘Bamahane,’ has come out with an edition that is totally kosher for Passover – and every other day of the year. Thousands of haredi soldiers, in addition to those slated to be enlisted in haredi units, received the special edition through the mail.

This followed a limited pilot which was carried out last year, and was the first time that a haredi edition of this size and reach hit the presses.

The magazine, which was produced by the IDF Human Resources Directorate’s haredi integration branch together with ‘Bamahane,’ was sent via direct mail over the holiday to the homes of 5,000 soldiers, with content specially geared toward the ultra-religious soldiers.

Among other things, this edition presented a Torah portion specifically for the haredi soldiers from Rabbi Avraham Yosef (son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef); an interview with wives of haredi soldiers; a feature story focused on haredi soldiers who fought in the battles to free Jerusalem in the War of Independence; plus other articles dealing with the integration of haredi soldiers into the civilian workplace after their military release.

More special editions are expected to come out over the next year. The magazine was distributed to soldiers in the haredi Netzach Yehuda Battalion, and soldiers in the haredi tracks in other branches and units.

This version of Bamahane was kept modest, with no photographs of women. Other than providing information to haredi soldiers, the goal of the publication was to encourage young haredim to enlist, while providing them with information regarding the opportunities available to haredim in the Israeli military.

This is part of a larger scale campaign being carried out by IDF human resources, with the goal of enlisting thousands of haredi soldiers starting this summer after the passing of the Tal Law, which will increase the number of ultra-orthodox serving in the military.

President Shimon Peres Meets With Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Making his traditional holiday visit to the homes of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and the Chief Rabbis Amar and Metzger on Sunday, President Shimon Peres said that launching the flow of natural gas from the Tamar natural gas field during Shabbat was "a mistake."

Haredi media asked the president whether he thought it was right to launch the gas flow on Shabbat to which he responded: "No, in my opinion it isn't (right). It was a mistake. I don't know why they made the decision," Peres responded.

Peres took the opportunity to Praise Delek Group owner Yitzhak Tshuva for his "initiative, tenacity and vision," which led him to find an American drilling company at a time when "no one was too thrilled about digging here."

The president expressed hope that the water channel would also go ahead in the future. "The Jewish world always preferred values to assets, but now that we have assets too, we need to invest them in values – Torah study, closing the social gaps and education.

"I wish it would help us get rid of poverty," the president said in his comments about the natural gas reservoirs.

Accompanied by the rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the president launched his traditional visit which takes place during every Sukkot and Passover holiday at the Jerusalem home of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Shas party leaders and Knesset Members Eli Yishai and Aryeh Deri were also present at the meeting.

Commenting on the issue of haredi enlistment in the IDF , Rabbi Ovadia said "When (the nation of) Israel studies Torah, G-d watches over them and saves them for calamity. All those who hate us, their swords will skewer their hearts and their bows shall be broken."

Peres agreed and added: "Torah must be maintained, so that it will watch over us."

Visiting the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Peres expressed support for a proposal known as "Amar's law," which enables a chief rabbi to run for a second term in office.

"May we live to see you as chief rabbi for many years to come. There are four months, that's enough time to pave the way forward. You bring light to the nation of Israel, and honor to the Torah, you do much to promote peace in our country among ourselves and with our neighbors," Peres said.

The government recently confirmed a four month extension of the two chief rabbis' terms in office.

In response, Rabbi Amar wished the president "a long life in his kingdom," and noted that his name precedes him throughout the globe, that he brings honor to the State of Israel and the Jewish nation. Moreover, the rabbi asked the president to work to end conflict within the nation, especially on the matter of haredi IDF enlistment.

The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger also expressed his concerns over the escalating schisms within the nation and asked the president to put together a forum for dialogue, in cooperation with the Chief Rabbinate and leaders from all sectors of Israeli society, to discuss burning issues.

Peres expressed willingness to support the initiative but stressed that it could only go ahead if all sectors of society took part, including the Jewish Diaspora.

Maduro calls Venezuela opposition 'heirs of Hitler'

Venezuela's acting President Nicolás Maduro called the country's opposition 'heirs of Hitler,' accusing them of persecuting Cuban doctors working in the South American country the way Jews were persecuted in Nazi Germany.

His barbs added to weeks of insults in the run-up to the April 14 presidential elections triggered by the death of socialist leader Hugo Chávez this month. Polls show Maduro with a double-digit lead over opposition rival Henrique Capriles.

"The campaign against Cuba is just like the campaign against the Jews in Hitler's Germany," Maduro said during a rally in Chávez's home state of Barinas. "The heirs of Hitler are leading a campaign in Venezuela against the people of Cuba."

Chávez, ten years ago, began bringing Cuban doctors to Venezuela to provide free health care in slums and rural villages, and maintained close ties with the communist-run island's leadership throughout his 14 years in office.

Opposition critics say Maduro and other senior government figures are receiving guidance directly from Cuban President Raul Castro, as well as allowing Cuban advisers to wield influence in Venezuela's military and intelligence services.

Some extremists have called the Cuban doctors part of a plan to turn Venezuela into a Communist state, though nearly all opposition leaders say the program is positive and vow to maintain it.

Maduro is benefiting from an outpouring of emotion after Chávez' death and as well from the legacy of Chávez's wildly popular social welfare campaigns known as "missions" that include the Cuban doctors program.

Government sympathizers have at times used terms such as "Nazi" and "fascist" to describe Capriles, a descendant of Polish Jews on his mother's side.

His maternal grandparents, the Radonskis, fled anti-Semitism in Poland and arrived in Venezuela with just a suitcase stuffed with clothes.

Capriles was a victim of racist slurs from government supporters in his unsuccessful campaign for president against Chávez last year.

Chávez named Maduro as his preferred successor before dying of cancer on March 5.

The campaign officially starts on April 2.