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Monday, September 30, 2013

CCTV Shows David Castellani Attacked, Bitten By Police K9 Dog In Atlantic City

The family of a man whose brutal beating by five Atlantic City police officers was captured on a shocking surveillance video and aired on a New Jersey TV station Friday says they now plan to file a lawsuit over the incident.

In the video, 20-year-old David Connor Castellani is seen being bitten by a police dog as well as thrashed by the officers. He was charged with assault on a police officer, an accusation his attorney says was without any basis.

“If he committed any of the offenses they charged him with, he wouldn’t be on the other side of the street figuring out a way to get home — he’d be under arrest,” lawyer Steve Scheffler told an Atlantic City local newspaper. “I certainly don’t see aggravated assault on a police officer or a K-9. Quite frankly, I don’t see resisting, either.”

Scheffler is defending Castellani against the criminal charges he now faces.
The incident occurred shortly after 3 am on June 15, when Castellani had been ejected from the Tropicana casino for reasons that remain uncertain. A local TV news report said he was kicked out for being underage.

One of the officers involved in the savage beating has faced accusations of excessive force at least three times before.

The video shows officers tackling Castellani then striking him with batons and their knees. About a minute into the beating, a police K-9 vehicle shows up and the cops release an attack dog on the fallen Castellani.

The dog bites him and drags him to a curb.

NJ - Elderly Jewish Man Beaten, Carjacked At Newark Cemetery

NEWARK, N.J. - Police are searching for the suspects who attacked a man at a cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.

On a Sunday morning, out of devotion to deceased loved one, the 75-year-old man and his wife came to tend a gravesite, a heartfelt tradition that was horribly, painfully, brutally interrupted.

"He was approached by two males who grabbed him choked him, slashed him, forced him to the ground, continued to assault him," said Thomas Fennelly, the Essex County Assistant Prosecutor.

One frail man, defenseless against two young men, who not only beat him mercilessly, they then stole his car, which police have recovered. They are combing it for evidence that may lead to the attackers.

"We're looking for two black males, oval face, brown and black jacket," police said.

Rabbi Frankel was driving down Grove Street, looking for where the attack he'd also heard about occurred.

It's a graveyard, more than 100 years old, in an area where graves representing many religious denominations cover acres of land.

"It should be a place for people to respect, instead of such a heinous crime," Rabbi Frankel said.

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Jonathan Denver, Father of stabbed Dodgers fan makes plea for evidence

SAN FRANCISCO - A desperate father made a public plea Sunday for witnesses to his son's murder after the man suspected of the killing was set free due to a lack of evidence

Jonathan Denver of Fort Bragg was stabbed to death Wednesday night after the San Francisco Giants game just a few blocks from AT&T Park. His family spoke out Sunday in an effort to get a conviction in his case.

Robert Preece, his voice quavering at times, spoke in front of the ballpark's iconic Willie Mays statue before the Giants played the San Diego Padres.

"You all must understand how incredibly difficult this is and has been for me and my family," Preece said.
He was flanked by family members who handed out fliers to fans streaming into the stadium.

The fight Wednesday night ended with the death of his 24-year-old son, Jonathan Denver.

"Losing a child is a heartache no parent should have to endure," Preece said. "My son Robert lost his best friend and brother."

Police say Denver was with his family dressed in Dodgers gear leaving a bar at Third and Harrison streets when words were exchanged with some Giants fans. A fight began and Denver was stabbed.

Michael Montgomery of Lodi was arrested but later released due to a lack of evidence. The 21-year-old's father says his son told him that Denver hit him over the head with a chair and he stabbed him in self-defense.

A second suspect was questioned and released by police Friday. Two others were being sought.

Preece, who works as a security guard for the Dodgers, made this public appeal for witnesses to come forward.

"The Montgomery family is likely suffering as well," Preece said. "I am making a plea to the public asking that anyone who may have witnessed the incident to come forth so that both families can have some measure of closure. I believe that someone may have videotaped the incident and can help us discover the truth."

Denver's mother, Diana Denver, said in a prepared statement that she was angered by Montgomery's release and what she called "the negligence of our justice system."

The victim's aunt, Jill Haro Preece read the mother's statement after Diana Denver said she was too emotional to address the dozen of cameras and reporters assembled in front of Mays' statue.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said police had not spoken with any independent witnesses who may have witnessed the fight, which is what prompted Preece and his family to make their public plea.

The family passed out flyers before the Giants game asking for information in the crime.

During the game, a rare appearance by a smiling Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was brutally beaten outside Dodger Stadium in 2011. He has permanent brain damage. This week the Giants held fundraisers for Bryan.

"I want to thank all those that have sent their condolences, including the Stow family, my family at Dodgers," Preece said.

The flyers being passed out Sunday urge the public to call the San Francisco Police Department or the district attorney's office if they have any information.

Police say they are still investigating the case.

Baby receives milk from HIV carrier in Israeli hospital mix-up

In a devastating medical mix-up, a four-month-old baby in the Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva was accidentally given a bottle containing the breast milk of an HIV carrier. 

The incident occurred on Saturday, but the source of the milk was only confirmed as an HIV carrier on Monday. The error was first reported by Channel 10 television.

The baby was supposed to have been given his mother’s pumped breast milk, but a nurse apparently provided the wrong bottle. 

The baby’s mother noticed that the name on the bottle was not her son’s while feeding him and alerted the hospital staff. For security reasons, parents do not have access to the refrigerator in which the pumped breast milk is stored.

Tests run on both mothers revealed that the woman whose breast milk the baby drank was an HIV carrier. She was breast-feeding her own baby because she had not been previously diagnosed and was unaware that she was a carrier.

After consulting experts in infectious diseases, Schneider began giving preventive treatment to the baby who received the virus-carrying milk. The treatment, which resembles that given to medical staff or rape victims who may have been exposed to the virus, will continue for several months and the baby will be tested regularly.

The hospital stressed that “the chances of contracting the virus from a one-time feeding with a carrier’s breast milk are negligible. We don’t know of a single case of infection with the virus after a one-time feeding with an HIV carrier’s breast milk that has been described in the international medical literature.”

The preventive treatment “significantly reduces the chances of contracting the virus, and is particularly effective [when given] soon after the date of exposure,” the hospital added. “This treatment is also given in situations where it’s still impossible to know for sure whether infection has occurred.”

Just a few months ago, Schneider received accreditation from the Joint Commission International. To earn this prestigious international accreditation, a hospital must prove that it meets high standards of quality and patient safety.

The hospital said it “deeply regrets the error and is conducting a comprehensive investigation in order to learn the lessons and prevent a recurrence of this incident. 

The incident has been reported to the Health Ministry.” The ministry confirmed that it had received the hospital’s report.

Sheldon Adelson loses libel lawsuit against Democratic group

Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate and prominent Republican donor, has lost a $60 million libel lawsuit in which he claimed a Democratic group spread a false accusation that he had condoned prostitution in his casinos in Macau.

At issue was an article published on July 3, 2012 by the National Jewish Democratic Council on its website that sought to dissuade then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republicans from accepting Adelson's allegedly "dirty" and "tainted" money.

It cited reports about an accusation that the Las Vegas Sands Corp chief executive "personally approved of prostitution" in his Macau properties.

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken in Manhattan on Monday said the article constituted protected speech and was not libelous.

That accusation, which Adelson has denied, surfaced in a lawsuit brought against him by Steven Jacobs, a fired Las Vegas Sands executive. The allegedly libelous material contained a hyperlink to an Associated Press article that discussed Jacobs' lawsuit.

Adelson, 80, is worth $28.5 billion and the 11th-richest American, Forbes magazine said this month, and donated tens of millions of dollars to Republican candidates and organizations in the 2012 election cycle.

He claimed that the NJDC article was intended to advance the group's political interests by "assassinating" his character.

But in a 57-page decision, Oetken said Adelson failed to show that the defendants, which also included NJDC Chairman Marc Stanley and former NJDC President David Harris, acted with actual malice or reckless disregard of the truth.

The judge said the expressions "dirty money" and "tainted money" were imprecise and could not be proven true or false, and in context constituted protected expressions of opinion.

He also said the use of the hyperlink was proper, and that the defendant's reliance upon an article from a "reputable" news organization precluded a finding of liability.

"Protecting defendants who hyperlink to their sources is good public policy, as it fosters the facile dissemination of knowledge on the Internet," Oetken wrote. "It is to be expected, and celebrated, that the increasing access to information should decrease the need for defamation suits."

Adelson had sought $10 million of compensatory damages and $50 million of punitive damages. Oetken also ordered him to pay the defendants' legal fees.

In a phone interview, Stanley said he was pleased with the decision. "You just can't bully people with your money, and Adelson was trying to bully us with a lawsuit to suppress our speech during the election," he said. "David beat Goliath."

L. Lin Wood, a partner at Wood, Hernacki & Evans representing Adelson, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hollywood, FL - Fire again burns out business in Orthodox Jewish neighborhood

Hollywood, FL - The third suspicious fire in less than two years broke out in a shopping plaza in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Hollywood early Sunday, causing fire officials to question whether anti-Semitic motives may be in play.

The SUN SENTINEL reports that the fire gutted two adjacent restaurants, Achla Pita Grill and Bon Ami Café, within the Emerald Center located at 5650 Stirling Road in Hollywood.

Both restaurants are owned by Ilan Timianski, and it was the second time Achla Pita Grill has been targeted within the past year.

In September of 2012, video surveillance footage showed two masked men wearing hoodies dispensing flammable liquids inside the Achla Pita Grill kitchen before setting it ablaze.

Hollywood Fire Rescue Division Chief Joel Medina expressed some concern over the possibility that anti-Semitic motives may be behind the string of arsons.

“We have some concerns,” Medina said. “We want to make sure we cover all the bases.”

Local businessman Michael Katz, who was forced to relocate his Judacia store to another spot in the plaza after it was gutted in a December fire last year, said two men were also caught on tape exiting through the alley behind his store in that instance.

“It seems more than a coincidence,” Katz said, speculating that it was “either random vandalism or it was anti-Semitism.”

Following the last fire, Timianski said videotape revealed that the arsonists made no attempt to look for money or valuables.

“They didn’t touch anything. They came to make damage,” Timianski said. “There was nothing taken. So you have to ask, ‘Why focus on a place like this?’”

Agudath Israel Condemns Modern Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

The forthcoming installation of a new president at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is scheduled to include a “Roundtable” entitled “Training New Rabbis for a New Generation,” featuring the newly installed YCT president alongside four representatives of the non-Orthodox rabbinate as presenters. 

This is a deeply troubling, and telling, development.

Throughout its history, our people have been afflicted with schismatic movements and sects at odds with the mesorah, or religious tradition, bequeathed to us at Har Sinai.

Sometimes such “new approaches” openly rejected the Jewish religious heritage, like the movement that introduced itself in the nineteenth century as “Reform.” On other occasions, the break with the Jewish past was more subtle, as in the case of the “Conservative” movement, whose name, though, was quickly belied by its actions.

Torah giants of decades past warned us to not allow any blurring of lines between the world of Jews who maintain fealty to the Jewish past and “new Judaisms” espousing theologies incompatible with our mesorah. 

They accordingly forbade “multidenominational” religious ventures of any sort.

Groups that ignored that wise counsel have come and gone, even as the movements they sought to treat lightly have gone on to even more blatant rejection of our heritage, redefining their “Judaisms” according to their own lights and the whims of the times.

Countless Jews have been led down the path toward Jewish oblivion by the mesorah-rejecting rabbis of the non-Orthodox movements. 

That an ostensibly Orthodox rabbinical seminary would now provide a prominent public platform for leaders of those movements to share their wisdom on the subject of training new rabbis is irony of the most bitter kind.

A yeshiva is a place where Jews rigorously pursue the timeless truths of Torah. 

That leaves no room for those who reject the very concept that such timeless truths exist. The forthcoming YCT installation ceremony does violence to this essential principle.

Williamsburg - Hearing for Orthodox Jewish shops’ ‘modesty’ rules

The city’s battle against Orthodox Jewish retail shops that require “modesty’’ of their customers should go to trial, an administrative judge has ruled.

Both sides have been fighting for months over signs that Satmar shops in Williamsburg put in their windows saying, “Entrance here only for those with modest attire. No Shorts, No Barefoot, No Sleeveless, NO Low Cut Neckline ALLOWED IN THIS STORE.”

The city argues that the signs are discriminatory against women, non-Jews and the non-religious by making them feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in the Lee Avenue stores.

“The whole key is, ‘How does that sign make someone feel? How would a person feel looking at that sign and [about] whether he or she is welcome in that store?’ ” Clifford Mulqueen, of the city’s Commission on Human Rights, said to The Post.

But the shops say the signs are geared toward both sexes — and don’t single out anyone any differently than a posh eatery that requires a coat and tie.

“Frankly, it’s very troubling that the commission thinks it’s OK for the Four Seasons restaurant to impose a dress code but not a bakery owned by a Hasidic businessman,’’ said lawyer Jay Lefkowitz.

The trial will consist of a two-day hearing in administrative court in January, officials said.

NYC - Shocking moment Bikers terrorize family in high-speed chase

The unbelievable moment a Range Roger driver who was surrounded by motorbikes sped off over the top of them apparently killing at least one person, has been caught on film.

The footage was captured on a helmet camera of a motorcyclist during an annual bikers' event in New York City.

Posted this morning, the film shows a black Range Rover being surrounded by bikers as they speed along at close proximity to each other and the car.

At the start of the six-minute film, it appears one motorcyclist brakes in front the the car and gets bumped by it.

The scores of bikers then slow and stop, all looking back to see what damage has been done. At least one motorcyclist gets off his bike and begins to stride over to the car.

But as he nears, the Range Rover accelerates suddenly knocking over bikes and motorcyclist, and powering over the top of them.

The driver speeds away, but immediately the angry bikers follow it and it takes a matter of seconds for them to catch up.

The footage shows them following the vehicle for several minutes, at times getting close and intimidating the driver.

The group of bikers take Exit 14, on route 95, following signs for the Cross Bronx Expressway and passing the sign for Henry Hudson Parkway, before they traffic begins to slow.

The bikers again surround the vehicle, blocking its path and it's forced to stop.

Sezing an opportunity to confront the driver, one biker dismounts and tries to open the door. As soon as he does, the Range Rover driver again speeds off, knocking down at least one more motorcyclist.

The driver heads off on route 95 heading north towards the Cross Bronx Expressway, then taking the W 176 SI which leads into a built-up area with heavy traffic.

Forced to stop at traffic lights, the Range Rover comes to a standstill, and within seconds two bikers are off their vehicles and attacking the driver's side windows.

The first takes off his helmet and smashes it against the driver's door window, smashing it; the second tries to punch through the rear door window.

The footage then stops.

The video was posted by a biker, under the name GIXXARDR on Liveleaks, from Melbourne, Australia, this morning.

Already it has received numerous comments, most are in support of the Range Rover driver
One person, who's profiles name is Sgt Pepper, says:  'I would do exactly the same thing

They're intimidating him and he's probably fearing for his life.'

Another, known as 'zacarra' says the driver acted in 'self defense'.

'Did you see the biker break (sic) check him in the beginning. This poor guy was running for his life from the start,' zacarra writes.

A comment left by 'badmother2' questions: 'I want to know 2 things: 1) What happened before filming started. Why did the bikers pick on this guy exactly? 2) What happened after filming stopped???'

One commenter, 'pixiesprimecut,' claimed the driver was beaten into a coma.

According to 'meathead12' it was 'justifiable': 'Only a fool would stick around to be pulled out of his car and lynched by 100 bikers.'

'charlesferg' says the NYC has now banned the riders' annual event.

Greek paper apologizes for implicating Jewish businessman in scandal

A Greek newspaper published a rare public apology to a millionaire Greek-Israeli businessman, saying it wrongfully implicated him in a massive tax evasion scandal.

The mainstream Sunday newspaper To Vima said it had named Sabby Mionis as being on the so-called “Lagarde list” of about 2,000 prominent Greeks who had money stashed in Swiss bank accounts after being “misled by incorrect information.”

The full-page apology said that Mionis may have been singled out because he is Jewish and Israeli, which made him “a perfect target for the media and far-right politicians known for their anti-Semitic views.”

Greek authorities have questioned Mionis about an account containing some $725 million. Greek media have alleged that the account was linked to the mother of former Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Mionis has denied the claim, saying the account belonged to a mutual fund he managed. He has said repeatedly that he was being targeted because he is Jewish.

Analysts said the apology was likely the result of an agreement between Mionis, who immigrated to Israel in 1996, and the newspaper.

“I have no specific knowledge of this case, but from my experience, Greek newspapers never issue such apologies unless it the result of an agreement, maybe a lawsuit or the threat of one,” said Victor Eliezer, a prominent media analyst in Athens.

The case made headlines in June when a leading lawmaker from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, Ilias Kasidiaris, implied during a parliamentary debate on the scandal that he is a Holocaust denier.

Mionis had refused to come to Greece to testify before a committee probing the scandal, saying there were Holocaust deniers on the committee.

“The Jew Sabby Mionis is key to this case,” Kasidiaris said. “He won’t come to this committee because there are Holocaust deniers on it. And indeed there are Holocaust deniers on it.”

Kasidiaris apparently was referring to himself, the only Golden Dawn lawmaker on the committee.

NY State Police Requesting Assistance in Swastika Graffiti Case

EAST FISHKILL, N.Y.  — State police are investigating anti-Jewish vandalism at an upstate New York camp that caters to a largely Jewish clientele.

Troopers in Dutchess County say swastikas were spray-painted on the windows of two vehicles parked at the Holiday Summer Homes Camp in East Fishkill, about 60 miles north of New York City. The vandalism happened Friday night or early Saturday.

Police ask that anyone with information about the incident call Investigator David Barnard at the Wappinger barracks (845-298-0952).

Rabbi Dovid Cohen Resigns as Hatzalah CEO

The CEO of Jewish ambulance service Chevra Hatzalah resigned on September 28, days after the reported that the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty had dumped him as a consultant.

Rabbi Dovid Cohen’s ongoing consulting position with the Met Council ended on the same day the not-for-profit group fired executive director William Rapfogel, who has since been charged with defrauding the charity in a $5 million kickback scheme.

The New York Times reported September 26 that Cohen was the unnamed co-conspirator named in the criminal complaint filed against Rapfogel on September 24, citing two unnamed sources.

Chevra Hatzalah’s board accepted Cohen’s resignation on September 29, according to David W. Shipper, a board member of Hatzalah and its attorney. Shipper said that Cohen did not say why he was resigning.

Son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Calls Battle of Succession 'Ugly'

Rabbi David Yosef, the son of world renown Sephardic spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, sharply criticized those involved in the "battle of succession" of the Shas political party, while his father is still battling for his life in an Israeli hospital.

"I do not know how people in this situation are not ashamed to busy themselves with these issues at this time. To engage in fighting over issues of inheritance at this point in time is very ugly," Rabbi David said in an interview with Army Radio.

He further slammed the controversy as "disgusting" and "inappropriate."

"I hope those who engaging in this come to their senses and return to their prayers and not arguments about who takes over," Rabbi David said.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef founded the Shas movement in 1984 with four other Torah scholars to represent the interests of religiously observant Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish communities.

Shas is known for its Sephardic Jewish school system and its affiliated political faction. Now that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's condition has left him on a respirator in the ICU, there has been bickering among those who wish to inherit the leadership of the political party.

Speaking of his 93-year-old father's condition, Rabbi David said that "Rabbi Chaim Ovadia Yosef made it through the night and his condition is stable, but is still rocky and very hard." As is customary in cases of life-threatening illnesses, the name "Chaim" (meaning "life" in Hebrew) has been added to Rabbi Yosef's name, and his family have asked people to continue praying for Ovadia Chaim ben Georgia.

A spokesman for Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital has announced that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's condition remains serious to critical,  but continues to be stable.

The Torah scholar's medical staff noted that during the course of the Saturday night several positive changes took place. The staff said, "this morning, the attending medical staff will meet to determine further treatment. The Rabbi is in the Intensive Care Unit in Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem."

Dan Cohen receives stiff sentence for bribery and fraud

Former judge Dan Cohen was sentenced to six years imprisonment and a NIS 10 million fine on Monday for accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust while serving as a director of the Israel Electric Corporation. The sentence, which was part of a plea bargain agreement between Cohen and the prosecution, also included a charge of obstruction of justice relating to Cohen's flight from Israel to escape justice in 2005.

Cohen admitted to accepting a one million euros bribe from the German company Siemens while negotiating for the purchase of Siemens equipment in his capacity as an IEC director. He also acknowledged concealing his connection to the sellers in an IEC land purchase deal.

Cohen, 71, has been in prison in Israel since his extradition on March 15 from Peru, where he spent seven-and-a half-years on the run. Peru and Israel do not have an extradition treaty. The judge reduced Cohen's sentence by the three months he spent in a Peruvian prison awaiting extradition and the time he has been confined in Israel since his extradition.

The prosecution refused to count the 18 months Cohen spent in Peru under house arrest towards time served. If he receives a third off his sentence for good behavior, Cohen could be freed in another three years and three months.

"There is almost no person or business in Israel that does not need the [IEC's] services,” wrote Justice Haled Kabub in his sentence “The acceptance of bribes by such a senior executive - out of pure greed, extreme in its ugliness - is cynical exploitation and betrayal of the entire public."

Cohen will have to pay NIS 5 million of the fine within one year. If he does, the state will ask Panamanian authorities to release funds he has in a currently-frozen account in that country.

Cohen pleaded guilty to pocketing a bribe of one million euros during a hotly-contested bidding war between the Siemens Corporation and General Electric for the sale of three gas-powered turbines to IEC for NIS 370 million. He also pleaded guilty to breach of trust for failing to report to the IEC Board of Directors that he had a personal relationship with Ezra Harel, the owner of Rogosin Industries, at a time when the IEC was considering the purchase of land from Rogosin.

As chairman of the IEC's Asset Committee in 1966, Cohen warned the IEC Board of Directors that Israel could find itself without a regular supply of electricity if the company didn’t purchase the Rogosin land for a new power station. The deal cost the Israeli taxpayer approximately NIS 62.5 million and Cohen received millions of dollars for promoting the sale, according to the original indictment. However, both the charge of bribery in connection with the Rogosin land affair and a charge of falsifying corporate documents were removed from the amended indictment that served as the basis for the plea deal.

Today, 16 years after the land was purchased, the power station has still not been built.

Kabub wrote that if the full charges in the Rogosin affair had remained in the indictment - and been proved - Cohen's sentence would have reached 10 years in total. The judge added that the sentencing of public officials convicted of serious crimes had hardened in recent years, in line with an amendment of the law in 2010 that increased the maximum sentence to 10 years in prison from seven. Regarding Cohen’s argument that he deserved a shorter sentence since his crimes were committed before the law was amended, Kabub said that Cohen only had himself to blame since he was the one who fled justice.

The judge also stressed that the breach of trust was particularly severe in Cohen’s case as he had served for a short time as a district court judge and was also a well-known and successful lawyer. "Cohen did not lack anything; he took the bribes for himself only out of greed," wrote Kabub.

The state will seize NIS 4 million of Cohen's assets and he will pay a fine of NIS 6 million. The plea bargain contained no obligation on Cohen's part to reveal any co-conspirators in the case.

Cohen will now face civil damage suits filed against him by the IEC.

NY Controversial circumcisions

A couple of weeks ago, New York City Councilman David G. Greenfield introduced a bill that would bar the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from requiring informed consent for metzitzah b'peh.

Metzitzah is a practice where a ritual circumciser, or mohel, sucks out blood from a baby’s penis after circumcision, in accordance with an ancient tradition followed by Hasidic groups as well as some other Orthodox communities.

The N.Y. health department has linked several infant deaths to MBP. In response, the City passed a measure requiring the infant’s parent or guardian to sign a document informing them that the Department of Health recommends against performing this act because of the risks associated with the practice.

Documented risks include the transmission of the herpes simplex virus and other infections.

Even though New York City is not trying to ban this practice but to merely inform parents of its potential health risks, several prominent Jewish organizations, including Agudath Israel of America, sued the city, arguing that a consent form infringes on their freedom of religion, unconstitutionally compels speech, and violates Jewish law. (In January a federal judge denied a request for a preliminary injunction against the regulation. The case is currently pending before the Second Circuit as of a brief filed in April.) Echoing a similar sentiment, Councilman Greenfield introduced his legislation to prevent informed consent at a September 12 City Council meeting.

But rather than oppose the consent process, the Hasidic community should champion informed consent – and do so from an authentically Jewish perspective.

That is because Judaism places great value in the knowledge and awareness of potential medical health risks.

Under Jewish law, a doctor cannot forcibly heal a patient; s/he must inform the patient (or their legal guardian) of the risks of medical treatment (Igros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat II:73e). While a formal consent form is unnecessary in Jewish law, it is the accepted modern-day method of informing patients about a procedure, the options, and the risks so that the patient can make an educated decision.

Informed consent in the medical context is particularly relevant and appropriate in the case of metzitzah because the Talmud views it as a procedure to protect the health of a child through what was once believed to be a hygienic medical practice (Tractate Shabbos 133B). Medieval Torah scholar and physician Maimonides reiterates that the reason for the suction is medical in nature: “so the child does not come in danger.” (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Milah 2:2).

Today the mainstream medical community recommends safe antiseptic and antibiotic techniques to assist the healing process and stop the bleeding. The ancient method of suction has been jettisoned and medical professionals strongly recommend against allowing saliva to come in contact with the wound.

Modern Orthodox Jews have by and large abandoned direct metzitzah b'peh as a largely outdated medical procedure. The Rabbinical Council of America, the main union of modern Orthodox rabbis, advocates for methods that don’t involve direct oral suctioning; rather they initiate indirect suction using a sterile tube or sponge to avoid any contact between the mohel's mouth and the open wound, thereby eliminating the risk of infection.

However, many Hasidic Jews believe that this practice was not simply ancient medicine. The 17th century Kabbalist Rabbi Avraham Azulei relates the procedure to the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden.

The mouth that ate the fruit in the garden brought sin into the world and therefore must be used to perfect the human body during the circumcision. To accomplish this, Azulei says that the mouth must come in direct contact with the wound.

Because of this and other mystical reasons, some Hasidic Jews consider direct contact to be required under Jewish law.

Regardless of the mystical significance of this practice, considering what is now known about germs and viruses, under Jewish law, parents should be informed of the potential health risks such a practice poses to an infant.

Even though some in the Orthodox Jewish community argue that it is inconclusive that babies died from herpes transmitted through this ritual, it is still prudent to be aware of the medical advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Disease Control, NY DOHMH and others that warn of the risks.

No harm could ever come from additional medical knowledge.

There is nothing to fear here, and the Hasidic community should welcome this information and make their choices accordingly.

Metzitzah is not the only area where some Hasidic groups are not taking advantage of modern medical information. Recently there have been several outbreaks of generally controlled diseases such as measles and mumps, afflicting unvaccinated children in these communities. The reluctance to be informed on the advances of modern medicine may also be reflected in the opposition to informed consent with metzitzah.

Perhaps the New York City consent form will help insular Hasidic communities embrace medical knowledge by understanding the health risks of practices like metzitzah b'peh, and the health risks of not vaccinating children, so they can make better educated decisions for the health and welfare of their families.

By Rabbi Eliyahu Fink and Eliyahu Federman

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink is the rabbi at the Pacific Jewish Center in Venice, CA. Eliyahu Federman writes on religion and culture at the Huffington Post, USA Today, The Forward, and elsewhere.

Jerusalem - Court extends remand of suspected Iranian spy

The Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court extended the remand of Ali Mansouri, who is being charged with being an Iranian spy.

The police said that Mansouri hadn't divulged all the information concerning his activities in Israel and asked that his remand be extended.

Mansouri was arrested by the Shin Bet two and a half weeks ago, when he tried to leave Israel. 

The police announced the arrest on Sunday. When asked about the decision to lift the gag order on the case, the police representative said that the decision came down from a high-ranking police officer and wasn't made by the investigation team itself.

He also said that Mansouri was interrogated a number of times and gave an account of his activities in Israel.

Israeli security officials suspect that Mansouri, who traveled under the guise of a Belgian businessman Alex Mans, was conducting business dealings as a cover for intelligence gathering and terrorism.

They said Iran was also trying to use him to bypass the embargo on trade and financial transactions with Iran.

During his trips to Israel – the one this month was his third since last year – Mansouri tried to make contact with Tel Aviv business people, presenting himself as a Belgian businessman who sells windows and roofing for stores and restaurants. Several websites and a Facebook page had been created to make him seem legitimate.

Lebanon Encroaches on Israel's Offshore Border

Lebanon is homing in on Israel's territorial waters, according to a report in Globes.

Official Israeli sources told the newspaper that Lebanon is about to award offshore oil and gas exploration licenses in areas that encroach on Israel's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Lebanon published tenders for offshore oil and gas exploration licenses in early September, in five blocks in its EEZ.

It is a highly provocative act which has the potential to greatly inflame hostilities between the two nations.

“Israeli sources who examined the coordinates found that the area of the southernmost license, Block 9, encroaches on the border that Israel claims for its EEZ,” wrote Globes. “This license is considered attractive with high chances of a major natural gas discovery.”

Israel's Petroleum Commissioner Alexander Varshavsky presented the findings of this review at an international energy conference in Cyprus two weeks ago. He emphasized that Israel has refrained from taking similar steps, and did not award oil and gas exploration licenses in disputed areas.

Adv. David Kornbluth, an expert in national borders, told Globes that Israel could lose its claim to the disputed area unless it takes active steps in response to the Lebanese move.

"Legal practice says that a country that does not respond to such an act is considered as waiving its claim," he said.

In the past, Lebanon has attempted to claim at least part of Israel's Tamar and Leviathan fields as its own, claiming that parts of the fields are over the international maritime border, in Lebanese waters. Lebanon has also made similar claims on gas off the shores of Cyprus.

In 2011, The Israeli Cabinet approved a “marine economic zone proposal” after Lebanon presented maps to the United Nations, marking maritime borders that would include part of the giant Leviathan and Tamar fields. The United Nations previously has refused to take responsibility for marking the maritime borders.

Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water Joubran Bassil said at the time that Israel “is playing with fire “by violating Lebanon’s maritime border and oil rights.”

A few months earlier, the United Nations rejected an attempt by Lebanon to stop Israel from drilling for oil and natural gas in the Mediterranean.

U.N. Spokesman Martin Nesirky said at the time that the mandate of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) “does not include delineating maritime lines. We are talking about two different things: coastal waters and a disputed boundary.”

Sunday, September 29, 2013

MA - State Trooper Involved In Deadly Crash Was 3 Times Legal OUI Limit

                          Susan Macchi, left, and her daughter Juliet, right

PLYMOUTH  – A Massachusetts State Police trooper will be charged with OUI and driving to endanger following a crash that killed a mom and daughter last weekend in Plymouth.

Plymouth police say Trooper John J. Basler, 25, of Kingston was off-duty and was driving drunk when a car driven by Susan Macchi, 64, of Carver collided head-on with his vehicle.

Investigators have said it appeared Macchi’s car crossed the center line before the crash. However, they are looking into Basler’s role in the collision.

Macchi and her daughter, Juliet Macchi, 23, were both killed. Basler suffered non-life threatening injuries in the crash.

A source told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 that Basler’s blood alcohol level was .26, which is more than three times the legal limit for driving.

In addition to the OUI and driving to endanger charges, he also faces a charge of carrying a firearm while under the influence of liquor, according to the Plymouth Police Department, which is investigating the crash with the assistance of the Massachusetts State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit.

“This is very upsetting. Its horrific. No one wins in this situation,” Plymouth Chief Michael Botieri said.

Police say the Macchis and Basler collided with each other on Federal Furnance Road in Plymouth. Basler was off-duty at the time and, according to reports, he had been drinking before the crash.

“At this point, we have enough evidence to move forward on charges of OUI and negligent operation of a motor vehicle,” Botieri said.

One of Basler’s neighbors in Kingston was shocked when he heard the allegations Saturday. “My wife and I are very sad to hear about the crash. I know Basler, he’s a nice guy. I am so sorry to hear about him also,” Jim Reagan said.

Botieri said he has spoken with the Macchi family to let them know Basler may be facing more charges. “This family has lost two members and this trooper has some serious issues here,” the police chief said.

A family member of Basler’s told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 that he had hired a lawyer and would not be commenting.

The state police said the trooper has been placed on leave. Due to Basler’s injuries, he will be summonsed to Plymouth District Court at a later date, the Plymouth Police said in a prepared statement Saturday. Further charges may be filed against the trooper, the police said.

Basler was sworn in to the Massachusetts State Police in March 2012.

Jerusalem Tragedies: Young Biker Killed, Baby Suffers Crib Death

Jerusalem - In a tragic accident in Jerusalem Sunday afternoon, a ten year old boy was killed when he was knocked off his bicycle after it was hit by a truck. 

The boy was severely injured when his head hit the ground. Rescue teams arrived within minutes, finding him without a pulse. Unable to revive him, the teams called for an ambulance to transport the child to Shaare Tzedek Hospital, where doctors officially recorded his death.

The accident occurred at the Pat Junction in south Jerusalem, typically a very busy intersection. 

Witnesses said that the truck, which was carrying building materials, hit the child as it was moving at full, but apparently legal, speed. Rescue workers said that it appeared that the child had died almost immediately after being hit by the truck, and that there was nothing they could do to revive him.

Police are questioning the truck driver. No charges are expected to be filed.

The death at the Pat Junction was actually the second death of a child Sunday in Jerusalem. Earlier, an eight month old infant died after she fell unconscious in a nursery in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood of the city. The infant was found by a caretaker, who immediately called rescue teams, but they were unable to revive her.

The infant died after the caretaker had put her down for a nap. Police have opened an investigation into the circumstances of her death. Rescue workers said that the baby appeared to be a victim of crib death, but that only a full investigation could indicate the true cause of death.

Belzer Rebbe: Israeli Govt. Made Up of Dogs

The great leaders of the Haredi world in Israel continue to attack the current government in an unabashed manner.

According to Kikar Hashabbat, on Thursday night, speaking before thousands of Chassidim, the Rebbe of Belz Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach said the coalition partners were “Truly wicked, they want to destroy the world of Torah, they’re dogs who want to devour and step on Judaism.” 

The Rebbe also encouraged his Chassidim to put away their cellular phones during prayer services, because this bothers everybody in the synagogue.

He also encouraged them to organize study groups. Regarding the money his Chassidim are taking from the evil government, the Rebbe said it was their money, which belonged to them as taxpayers. 

But now, he complained the government wants to take away “even that which we rightfully deserve.”

Brooklyn: Jew Hurt in Anti-Semitic Attack

                                            Tzuker's injured eye

A Jewish man living in Brooklyn, New York, was the victim of an anti-Semitic attack on Friday, shortly before the beginning of the Sabbath.

Tzvika Tzuker told Arutz Sheva about the attack. He said he was walking down the street when suddenly two non-Jewish men began shouting anti-Semitic abuse.

Tzuker chose not to respond to their insults. However, instead of calming down, the two began to physically attack him, hitting him in the face.

Tzuker’s eye was hurt in the incident, and he required medical care. Police are investigating the incident.

There has been a recent increase in anti-Semitism in New York, Tzuker said, the reasons for which are unclear. He called on local authorities to take action quickly, warning that if nothing is done to stop the increasingly frequent assaults, one islikely to end with more serious injuries.

Rabbi Norman Lamm, could get a pass in sex suit

Rabbi Norman Lamm

One of the defendants in a scathing $380 million lawsuit accusing Yeshiva University of covering up decades of sexual and physical abuse against students now has a doctor’s note that could get him out of testifying in the case.

Former Yeshiva University Rabbi Norman Lamm, 85, was examined on Sept. 16 by neuropsychologist Elise Caccappolo of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, who found that he can’t provide reliable testimony, Lamm’s lawyer wrote this week.

“Dr. Caccappolo found that a deposition was unlikely to pose a risk or threat to Dr. Lamm’s health,” lawyer Joel Cohen wrote Judge John Koetl on Tuesday.

“However, after administering a battery of tests conducted over a period of nearly five hours, Dr. Caccopolo determined [in her written report] that ‘the pattern of Dr. Lamm’s cognitive impairment impedes his ability to independently comprehend and adequately respond to questions posed to him, as well to reliably retrieve and report past information.”

Lamm retired July 1 — only a few weeks after the university was slapped with the suit by 19 ex-students of its prestigious all-boys high school.

In December, Lamm spurred the suit by telling the Jewish newspaper The Forward that two rabbis were allowed to leave the school quietly after students accused them of sex abuse.

He was examined after Kevin Mulhearn, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, asked that Lamm – who suffers from dementia – be allowed to testify within weeks to ensure his condition doesn’t worsen.

Koetl said he’d rule only after Lamm was examined independently by a doctor agreed to by all parties.

Cohen and Mulhearn declined comment.

NY - Past Affiliations With Anti-Semitic Groups Raise Questions For De Blasio

New York, NY - Decades-old affiliations with anti-Semitic groups are raising questions for Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, most notably his time spent in Nicaragua in 1988, where the Sandinista-controlled government openly persecuted Jews.

The NEW YORK POST reports that Jewish leaders say that Nicaragua’s tiny Jewish population of about 250 was constantly threatened by the repressive Sandinista regime, which confiscated private Jewish property, while openly supporting Yasser Arafat’s PLO.

Persecution and the threat of imprisonment caused many Jews to flee the country.

According to records, de Balsio arrived in Nicaragua at the age of 26, in a humanitarian capacity to help distribute food and medicine.

On the subject, de Blasio said recently, “They had a youthful energy and idealism mixed with a human ability and practicality that was really inspirational.”

Campaign spokesman Dan Levitan said there was “no connection” between de Blasio’s humanitarian efforts and the anti-Semitism practiced by the Sandinistas.

Idan Ofer Gives London school £25M

Shortly after leaving Israel for London, billionaire Idan Ofer has given £25 million (about $40 million) to the London Business School, where he studied in the 1980s. This is the largest single donation received by a UK business school.

The donation was made by the Idan and Batia Ofer Foundation, which also announced the development of a special scholarship program for Israeli students at London Business School.

About a month ago, the institution received a £10m donation from South African Jewish billionaire Nathan Kirsh.

The scholarship program, whose scope was not disclosed, will be launched soon. It is aimed at further exposing Israel's future business leaders to the global economy, while helping them accumulate knowledge, understanding and connections.

Ofer said in a statement, "I have enjoyed a long association with the School and believe that it offers something uniquely valuable in the world of business education, combining strong fundamental business and management education with an emphasis on the business community being part of the solution for a better society."

The project, he noted, "is an important step towards ensuring the School can continue to grow and prosper in the future, creating new generations of leaders who can address the challenges of business and wider society.

"My father Sammy enjoyed learning from others and throughout his career in shipping was known to spend many hours speaking with seamen and officers of vessels, rather than being tucked away in his office. 

This sense of curiosity resonates strongly with London Business School’s community where students are not just stretched intellectually; they become a part of an ever-expanding international community, learning as much from each other as from the faculty."

He added that "one of the goals of The Idan and Batia Ofer Foundation is to ensure the next generation of Israeli entrepreneurs is equipped to cope with the challenges of globalization. London Business School is at the forefront of helping to meet these challenges. 

The Foundation hopes in this small way to contribute to economic growth in the region, ultimately improving the prospects for peace and stability."

Idan Ofer, Israel Corporation's controlling shareholder, moved to London recently after being criticized in the past few years for benefits received by the Israel Chemicals (ICL) company (which is controlled by Israel Corp) and the low royalties it paid the State.

These royalties were raised in recent months. In addition, the government vetoed ICL's talks for a merger with Canadian fertilizers giant Potash Corporation.

Russia - Dagestan rabbi’s shooter killed in gunfight

                                                Rabbi Ovadia Isakov

MAKHACHKALA, Russia — Russia’s main anti-terror agency said Friday its forces have killed five suspected militants including a prominent warlord during a raid in the restive southern province of Dagestan.

The National Anti-Terrorist Committee said in a statement that the militants were killed Friday in Derbent on the Caspian Sea. It said that security forces acting on a tip surrounded a house where the militants were holed up. They refused to surrender and were killed in a gunfight.

The Committee said that one of the suspects, Sherif Akhmedov, was the leader of a group of militants suspected of staging a series of attacks on police and other authorities and running an extortion racket targeting local businesses.

Rasul Temirbekov, spokesman for Dagestan’s Investigative Committee, told The Associated Press that Akhmedov is believed to be behind at least 20 terrorist attacks in Derbent in the past two years including bus bombings and a July attack on the rabbi of a local synagogue.

Dagestan has become the epicenter of an Islamic rebellion that spread across Russia’s North Caucasus region after two separatist wars in Chechnya.

Shin Bet: Probe reveals scope of Hamas money laundering through Chinese banks

A Shin Bet security service investigation reveals that China is a central financial channel for funding Hamas activity worldwide. Its February-March 2012 probe connected Chinese banks to the transference of money to Hamas prisoners. 

The Shin Bet seized numerous documents of the transfers and a list of accounts in which the money was deposited in China.

The key to discovering the network was the testimony of Amar Mer’i, a West Bank money changer who had previously transferred money from laborers from Gaza to their families, but had stopped this activity after pressure from the Palestinian Authority to cut his ties with Gaza. 

He told the Shin Bet he was contacted by a man known as Abu Othman, who had received his name and number from Mer’i’s counterpart in Gaza. Mer’i said he suspected Abu Othman was a Hamas operative.

The Shin Bet arrested Mer’i at a border crossing in February 2010 in possession of $126,000 and NIS 80,000 in cash. Mer’i received the money from two men from the village of Musmus in the Wadi Ara region.

Mer’i’s information led to a complicated web. His contacts from Musmus, Mohammed Agbaria and his cousin Mohammed Abu Shahab, would receive text messages from Abu Othman with an encoded telephone number of an Eritrean national. 

Agbaria would meet the Eritrean in Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station area, take the money from him and pass it on to Mer’i, who would deposit it in the Bank of Palestine in Yabad, near Jenin. After that, Mer’i would receive an email message from Abu Othman with instructions on where to transfer the funds.

Most of the money would be transferred to accounts in the Bank of China. One transfer was made to a Citibank account in New York and another to a bank in Alabama. Several transfers were made to a HSBC bank in Hong Kong. Some money was transferred to accounts in India and Turkey.

Mer’i personally handed over some of the cash to Hamas activists in the West Bank as compensation for having served jail time.

The Shin Bet asked Mer’i why Abu Othman had to pay a mediation commission to an Eritrean national, couriers from Musmus and also to him. Mer’i said it didn't make sense to him and he suspected the convoluted money route was illegal. He said the text messages also made him suspicious.

Mer’i said he had called Abu Othman to ask him if the money belonged to Hamas, but was told it did not. 

Altogether he carried out 40 money transfers, totalling $1.1 million.

Mer’i also transferred money to Brookside Agra, an Illinois-based company that sells fertilizers.

He told the Shin Bet interrogator that Abu Othman asked him on the phone if he could handle money the latter had in Sudan. Mer’i said he asked several money changers and the Bank of Palestine, but none of them had any contact with Sudan.

Mer’i said that, a few days before his arrest, he received a text message from Abu Othman with the names of three women and the sums of money to give them. These included $3,000 to Um Faiz, $3,000 to Fatma and $3,500 to Um Sa'ad. He said he called the three and set up meetings with each.

The money was intended as support to the families of Hamas prisoners in Israeli prisons. Couriers Agbaria and Abu Shahab transferred funds to Hamas families as well. In one case, Hamas prisoner Ayman Abu Daud testified he had received $38,000 for serving time in an Israeli prison.

Abu Daud was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 36 years in prison after carrying out four shooting attacks in the Hebron area. He was released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal. In March 2012, he was arrested again and in 2013 he was deported to Gaza.

Before leaving for Gaza, Abu Daud testified in court. He said, "Ashraf Abu Merahia, a clerk in the al Noor association who had been in prison with me, called and told me he was transferring money to me as compensation for sitting in jail: $38,000."

In April this year, Mer'i was convicted in a military court for illegal activity. He claimed the money transfers to China were legal and part of business, not terror activities.

The judge ruled that, due to the ban imposed on publishing the affair, it was not possible to ascertain beyond a reasonable doubt that all the transfers were illegal. However, the judge added, "There are many question marks over the manner of Abu Othman's conduct - from the time he began transferring money through others to the defendant, to the latter's arrest. 

The transfer method to the defendant indicates the funds were illegal and illicit. The money was transferred mostly in crafty, sly ways, using false code names, frequent changes of SIM cards in mobile phones to prevent tapping, and with the help of two Israeli citizens. This was meant to blur the illegal way in which the money was passed from Gaza to the defendant and through him to others (including the families of security prisoners)."

In August, Mer'i was sentenced to 28 months in prison and fined NIS 70,000.

The scope of Hamas’ and Islamic Jihad's use of bank accounts in China was revealed in a lawsuit filed this summer in New York against the Bank of China for damages. The suit was filed by the family of Daniel Wultz, an American Jewish teenager who was killed in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in 2006. The legal battle uncovered the existence of a sophisticated international network to finance Palestinian terrorism.

The suit, which was filed with the encouragement of the Israeli government, revealed transfers of millions of dollars to the Bank of China in the previous decade. The suit has greatly embarrassed the authorities in China, which, according to the family, knowingly ignored Israeli warnings that a Chinese bank was being used to launder terrorist funds.

Under pressure from China, however, Israel backtracked and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly instructed officials not to testify in the case against the Bank of China.

Shin Bet: Arrests Belgian citizen on suspicion of spying for Iran

Alex Mans

Israel has arrested a Belgian citizen of Iranian extraction on suspicion that he was sent by the Iranian intelligence agency to spy for the Islamic Republic.

The suspect, Alex Mans, was arrested by the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police at Ben-Gurion International Airport on his way out of Israel. The arrest took place two weeks ago but the information was not made public until Sunday.

Israeli security officials suspect that Mans’ business dealings were meant to serve as a cover for intelligence gathering and terrorism. They said Iran was also trying to use Mans to bypass the embargo on trade and financial transactions with Iran.

During his trips to Israel – the one this month was his third since last year – Mans tried to make contact with Tel Aviv businesspeople, presenting himself as a Belgian businessman who sells windows and roofing for stores and restaurants. Several websites and a Facebook page had been created to make him seem legitimate.

Mans was born in 1958, as Ali Mansouri, and lived in Iran until 1980, according to Israeli security officials.

As the Belgian citizen Alex Mans, he visited Israel in July 2012, January of this year and, in his most recent visit, September 6 until his arrest on September 11. Shin Bet officials said they suspect Mans was trying to develop business ties in Tel Aviv on behalf of Iranian intelligence.

On his most recent visit, Mans took photographs of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv as well as the customs area of Ben-Gurion International Airport and other sites in Israel, “including sites that interest Iranian security officials,” the Shin Bet said. It said the pictures of the U.S. Embassy, which were taken from multiple angles, were found on him when he was arrested.

Mans told the Shin Bet that in early 2012 he was asked to spy on Israel and was promised about $1 million to do so. He later received various assignments, including to forge business ties and sign deals with Israeli businesspeople, in an effort to secure him continued access to Israel.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is also known as Quds Force and which sent Mans to Israel, is responsible for several terror attacks and attempted terror attacks against Israeli targets, including an a car bomb near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi last year, failed attempts in Bangkok and Tbilisi, and planned attacks in Azerbaijan, Kenya and Nigeria, the Shin Bet said.

Mans told his Israeli interrogators that he moved from Iran to Turkey, where he lived from 1980 to 1997. 

That year he received a visa for Belgium, where he expanded his business dealings. Nearly a decade later, he married a Belgian citizen and changed his name to make it less distinctly Iranian.

He later got divorced and flew around the world, living alternately in Iran, Turkey and Belgium. In 2007 he moved back to Iran and married an Iranian woman.

Mans said his Iranian handlers instructed him to set up a business infrastructure in Israel to conceal his intelligence gathering. He said his primary handler, Haji Mustafa from the special operations unit of the Quds Force, met with him and discussed his activities in Israel. Haji Hamid Na’amati was the main liaison between him and the special ops unit and Mahdi Hanbabai gave Mans his assignments within Israel.

Upon arrival in New York ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the United Nations General Assembly, the prime minister's entourage commented on the arrest. "At the same time as it condemns terrorism on American soil, Iran sends an agent to collect intelligence for a possible attack on a U.S. embassy," Israeli media reported the officials as saying.

The officials reportedly added that the arrest serves as further evidence that statements coming out of Iran do not match the criminal actions they take, and that the Islamic Republic continues to generate terrorism throughout the world.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Israel warned Kenya of Nairobi attack

Kenya's government had been warned, including by Israel, of the high risk of an attack before the assault on a Nairobi mall by Islamist gunmen that killed at least 67 people, newspapers reported Saturday.

Cabinet ministers and Kenya's army chief had received information warning of a plan to carry out a major attack, the Daily Nation said, quoting a leaked intelligence report.

On September 21, gunmen with automatic weapons and grenade burst into the upscale Westgate mall in Nairobi in an attack that lasted four days and left at least 67 dead.

It was claimed by Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked Shabab group as retaliation for Kenya's military presence in Somalia.

The Nation newspaper said the treasury, interior, foreign affairs and defense ministers, as well as the army chief, had been told of an elevated risk.

"Briefs were made to them of increasing threat of terrorism and of plans to launch simultaneous attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa around September 13 and 20, 2013," according to the report quoted in the paper.

The report also said Israel, which has close security ties with Kenya, had warned of plans to attack Israeli property in September, a month which included several Jewish holidays.

The Westgate mall, popular with expatriates and wealthy Kenyans, is part owned by Israelis and had long been considered a prime potential target.

"The Israeli embassy in Nairobi has raised concern with the foreign affairs ministry that Iran and Hezbollah from Lebanon have been collecting operational intelligence and open interests in Israeli and Jewish targets around the world including Kenya," the report said.

According to security sources, Israeli services are playing a lead role in the ongoing investigation into the attack, which saw gunmen storm the mall and spray bullets on shoppers before hunkering down to fight off special forces for three days.

President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on Tuesday that the siege was over.

The head of Kenya's National Intelligence Service, Michael Gichangi, is scheduled to be grilled by lawmakers on Monday amid growing public concern that the state was inadequately prepared.