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Friday, January 31, 2014

Jews flee Venezuela amid security fears


Venezuela, violent crime is prompting some of the country's citizens to seek a life abroad. The recent killing of the 2004 Miss Venezuela Monica Spear and her ex-husband in a gun attack on their car has brought into stark relief the security problems facing the country.
  
Among those leaving in large numbers are members of Venezuela's Jewish community, who say a lack of personal security, combined with growing anti-Semitism, makes life in the country too hard.
  
At home with his family in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Paul Hariton is one of about 260,000 people of Venezuelan origin in the United States. Born in Venezuela, he moved to the US 12 years ago, just after Hugo Chavez returned to power following a failed coup.

"I think the government is not friendly with Israel," he says. "It's not friendly to the Jewish cause."

Now living in a suburb of Miami, Hariton is an architect and property developer in the city's high-rise real estate market. Just north, the city of Aventura has become home to a growing population of Jews from Venezuela.

In the 1990s, some 25,000 Jews are thought to have lived in Venezuela. Today that number is estimated to be as small as 9,000.

"It's a big loss for the country because all my friends' kids who are here and going to Harvard and Yale and Stanford are going to be great professionals here, instead of going back as I did," Hariton says. "I went to school in New York, and when I graduated I went back to Venezuela. I worked there for almost 30 years. And that's its loss. That won't happen again."

Pynchas Brener used to be the chief rabbi at the largest Ashkenazi synagogue in Caracas. In that capacity he met with some of the world's leading political and religious figures.

"There is just no security in Venezuela," he says. "After six o'clock in the evening, you won't see anybody in the street. You see very few cars that venture out because they have to do something extremely important. Many people have bulletproof cars that didn't exist before the Chavez years."

Brener says a series of raids on Jewish schools and synagogues has added to the insecurity of the Jewish community in Caracas.

"Of course, you don't know how things will develop. But there is no question that for the first time since the coming of Chavez into power, anti-Semitism has become something in Venezuela that didn't exist before," he states.

Brener fears a brain-drain is taking place in his country, as educated families leave Venezuela while lower-skilled workers arrive.

But the International Organization for Migration says that Venezuela has in fact traditionally been a receiving country for migrants. The World Bank says that between 2009 and 2013, 40,000 more people migrated to Venezuela than left the country.

Yet Venezuela's Jewish community has more than halved over the last decade, a trend that the community in Florida says is likely to continue.

Rubashkin Lawyers Want Judge Presiding Over "Motion To Vacate" Recused


On Thursday, Sholom Rubashkin’s defense team filed a motion asking that the federal judge presiding over his “motion to vacate” be reused due to conflict on interest issues stemming from the fact that Chief U.S. 

District Court Judge Linda R. Reade’s husband was a partner in the law firm that handled various legal business affairs for Rubashkin.

HAMODIA is reporting that, in filing the motion, Rubashkin’s lawyers included a “friend of the court” brief containing the signatures of 86 prominent political and DOJ officials who state, unequivocally, that Judge Reade should have recused herself from the case.

The motion also makes mention of questionable communications between Judge Reade and prosecutors, before Rubashkin was formally charged as well as while he was awaiting sentencing outside the presence of Rubashkin lawyers.

Rubashkni’s attorneys are arguing that Judge Reade has, in essence, rendered herself a potential material witness in the case, and therefore cannot be impartial going forward.

Rubashkin is attempting to have his 27 year prison sentence vacated.

French Jews take YouTube to court over 'quenelle' video


A Jewish student union petitioned a French court to order the removal of a YouTube video in which an anti-Semitic comedian celebrates the quasi-Nazi salute he invented.

The petition filed this week with the Paris Court of Grands Instances by the Union of Jewish Students of France, or UEJF, concerns a video posted December 31 by Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a stand-up artist with seven convictions for inciting racial hatred against Jews, in which he declares that 2014 will be “the year of the quenelle.”

The quenelle is the name Dieudonne invented for folding an arm over one’s chest while pointing downward with the other arm. France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, said on Dec. 31 that the gesture was an “salute of anti-Semitic hatred.” Some practitioners of the salute say its meaning is simply anti-establishment.

A preliminary ruling on the union’s petition against YouTube is scheduled to be handed down on February 12, the French Liberation daily reported Wednesday. More than 3.5 million viewers have played the video, the paper wrote.

Last year, UEJF won a legal battle against Twitter, requiring that the American social network divulge details about users who violated France’s laws against hate speech with anti-Semitic statements.

Earlier this week, the Jewish community of Annecy in eastern France filed a complaint with police against unidentified individuals who painted a swastika on a memorial plaque commemorating Jewish children who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Members of the Jewish community found the graffiti at the entrance to the Quai Jules Philippe School in the town.

Picture of the Day: President Peres Honors Rav Grossman & Rav Firer

NYPD Hasidic Cop Previously Fired Over Religiously-Significant Beard Reinstated In Bronx

                                            NYPD Officer Fishel Litzman

Following a November ruling in which a judge agreed that he was victim of religious discrimination, 39 year-old Fishel Litzman has been reinstated by the NYPD and assigned to the 46th Precinct in the Bronx.

The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Reports that Litzman was booted from the Police Academy a month before graduation in June of 2012 because he contended that his religious beliefs prohibited him from trimming his facial hair down to the dept. limitations of 1 millimeter.

Litzman was forced to take on a paramedic position to support his family while his federal case against the NYPD was ongoing.

A federal judge in December ordered his reinstatement, as well as the NYPD to pay $137K in legal fees.

The city immediately filed a notice to appeal, but Litzman’s lawyer, Nathan Lewin, said he’s hopeful the new administration will decide to drop it.

Armed man busted after notes ‘threatened George W. Bush’


A deranged man with a loaded rifle was arrested in Kips Bay Friday morning after his mother found notes in their upstate home that threatened former President George W. Bush, police sources said.

The suspect was stopped by the Secret Service and the NYPD, law enforcement sources told the Post. He was nabbed on Lexington Avenue near 30th Street around 5:30 a.m.

The suspect made his way to the city from Plattsburgh. 

The Secret Service recovered the rifle from his vehicle. The NYPD assisted in the capture but the Secret Service took him into custody, the sources said.

The investigation is ongoing.

סיפור פרו ישראלי

Canadian Spy Agency Tracked Wi-Fi Communication Of Airline Passengers At Airport


Toronto -  A secret document leaked by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden shows Canada’s electronic spy agency used information gleaned from a free internet service at a Canadian airport to track the wireless devices of thousands of airline passengers.

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation said Friday that the report indicates the Communications Security Establishment Canada was given information taken from wireless devices using the airport’s Wi-Fi system over a two-week period.

It’s not clear which airport was involved.

The spy agency is supposed to collect primarily foreign intelligence by intercepting overseas phone and internet traffic. It is prohibited by law from targeting Canadians without a judicial warrant.

The agency’s spokeswoman Lauri Sullivan says no Canadian or foreign travelers were tracked or targeted and no information was collected or used.

TX - Cruise Ship Returns To Texas With 170 Sick Aboard


Pasadena, TX - More than 170 passengers and crew members have fallen sick aboard a cruise ship, prompting it to return two days early to a Houston-area port.

The Caribbean Princess returned to the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Pasadena late Thursday. Princess Cruises, which owns the ship, says the highly contagious norovirus spread quickly among passengers, forcing a premature end to their voyage.

The company says in a statement that Centers for Disease Control officials will board the ship Friday to ensure thorough sanitation.

The Caribbean Princess left the Pasadena port Jan. 25 bound for the Caribbean with more than 4,200 people aboard. It had been scheduled to return Saturday.

Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas returned to New Jersey on Wednesday after nearly 700 aboard fell sick with the same gastrointestinal illness.

NYC Armed Off-Duty Officer Catches Alleged Subway Harasser


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A shocking scene unfolded on a subway train in Far Rockaway, Queens, this week, when a man whipped out a gun and forced another man to the ground – all to help a woman in trouble.

As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, CBS 2 News obtained exclusive vide of the scene on the A Train Wednesday night.

The man seeing holding the gun in the cellphone video was praised for bravery a day after the incident, ending the torment of a woman straphanger by stopping an attacker and making sure he stayed there on the floor of the train until police arrived.

Witnesses say they saw a man terrorize a woman, pursuing her from train car to train car during the ride from Rockaway Park to the Broad Channel station.

The woman told a witness that the man was “a stranger” and “chasing her.” The man threw a punch and she held up her arm to block it.

That was when the man described as a hero took action. He is a New York State Probation Officer, and he used his 9mm pistol to get the suspect on the ground.

Afterward, NYPD officers were storming the train car. Regulations required them to get the off-duty officer to drop his gun, and they ordered him to put it down.

They then took the man the off-duty officer got onto the floor — identified as Jermaine Jordan, 33 — into custody.

Jordan’s last known address: a men’s shelter in Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. He was charged with assault and harassment.

Police said Jordan has more than two dozen prior arrests.

Nochi Dankner: German regulator probing Moti Ben-Moshe

Moti Ben-Moshe

Nochi Dankner today petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court to append "new and supplementary" evidence about the sources of capital of Moti Ben-Moshe, which was not included in the material sent to the court-appointed investigative team into Ben-Moshe's business. 

That material, which was submitted to Tel Aviv District Court Judge Eitan Orenstin a month ago, is still confidential.
  
Dankner's petition is co-signed by Black Cube Ltd. VP Avi Yanus. Dankner hired Black Cube to investigate Ben-Moshe; the investigation is ongoing.

Yanus's affidavit states that, in September 2013, Germany's Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) opened an investigation into Ben-Moshe's energy business in the country, which is handled through ExtraEnergie GmbH. 

"The investigation's purpose is to clarify whether ExtraEnergie is a company with a commercial logic and capabilities to its business. It should be noted that such an examination is an extremely rare and extraordinary step, reserved for extreme cases. This investigation indicates very serious suspicions about the conduct of Extra Holding and ExtraEnergie," Yanus states.

Yanus's affidavit is apparently based on reports in late September by "Der Spiegel" and a popular television station WDR that BNetzA had opened an investigation against electricity suppliers ExtraEnergie and Almado AG. 

They claim that if the investigation finds any flaws in the business and administrative structure of the companies, BNetzA has the authority to suspend their operations in Germany.

Furthermore, Yanus says that a review by Bird and Bird, signed by a German lawyer, Manfred Ungemach, an expert in the German energy market, found, "ExtraEnergie operates with a lack of financial logic and is at serious risk of financial collapse." The company's activity in Germany "is a problematic financial pyramid."

Ungemach adds that ExtraEnergie's cash surplus is not enough to cover its liabilities to customers and suppliers, even before investing €115 million to acquire IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. (TASE:IDBH). 

Commenting on BNetzA's probe, he says, "This is a very extreme process in the Germany market, which is liable to result in the liquidation of the company, and in case of insolvency, control and management would be taken from the company's current managers and transferred to a German liquidator."

The affidavit says that Ungemach headed a group of lawyers which assisted the liquidation of TelDaFax, the largest liquidation to date in Germany's energy market.

"There is no doubt that the need for achieving true diligence, protection of the creditors, as well as strengthening these interests when the business of Israel's largest company is involved, requires in our opinion the appending of the serious evidence that has been revealed," says Dankner's attorney, Adv.

Shmuel Cassouto. He adds, "The petition in and of itself, as well as the immense efforts behind it, are worthy of a full response in the name of law and justice.

Norway blacklists Africa Israel Investments


Norway has blocked its $820 billion pension fund from investing in two Israeli companies because of their construction activities in East Jerusalem.
  
The Foreign Ministry this week blacklisted Africa Israel Investments and its subsidiary, Danya Cebus, on a recommendation from the fund's ethics council.
  
The companies were excluded from the fund – one of the world's biggest institutional investors – once before, in 2010. That time it was for construction in the West Bank.

The fund's ethics council says the settlements represent "serious violations of the rights of individuals in situations of war or conflict."

As well, the EU recently said that it would not tolerate a continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For long seen as a "payer not a player" in the region, the European Union has started clarifying that its role as Israel's biggest trade partner and the Palestinians' largest donor should not be taken for granted.

"We have made it clear to the parties that there will be a price to pay if these negotiations falter," EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen said.

The EU has grown especially frustrated by Israel's repeated announcement since the talks started of new Jewish settlement building on land the Palestinians want for their future state.

"If Israel were to go down the road of continued settlement expansion and were there not to be any result in the current talks, I am afraid that what will transpire is a situation where Israel finds itself increasingly isolated," he said.

A major private Dutch pension fund announced earlier this month that it was divesting from five large Israeli banks because of their operations in the settlements, and other Norwegian and Swedish funds are considering similar moves.

Beny Steinmetz buying two gas fields

Beny Steinmetz

Despite a poor run of luck with two earlier investments in the natural gas sectorh, billionaire investor Beny Steinmetz is reportedly interested in acquiring the rights to the Karish and Tanin fields.

The talks with the owners of the rights to the sites, U.S.-based Noble Energy and subsidiaries of Yitzhak Tshuva’s Delek Group, are in the initial stages.

The impetus to sell rights at Karish and Tanin follows an apparent agreement by Antitrust Commissioner David Gilo to spare Noble and Delek a finding that they are in restraint of trade due to interests they hold in two larger gas exploration sites off Israel’s shores, Tamar and Leviathan. The agreement would require that the two companies divest the much smaller Karish and Tamin fields.

Steinmetz, whose multibillion dollar fortune was amassed mostly from the diamond trade, has also been a player in the energy sector. Success with the Tanin and Karish reserves would be compensation of sorts for his failure about a year ago to find natural gas at the Ishai site, east of Leviathan. After that, Steinmetz wrapped up his gas exploration business here.

Earlier, Steinmetz missed a major opportunity at the Tamar drilling site, where he divested a 5% stake two months before gas discoveries there.

The Tanin reserve, in which Noble has a 47% stake and Delek subsidiaries the remaining interest, is 120 kilometers northwest of Haifa and northeast of Leviathan.

The reserves there have been estimated at about 1.1 trillion cubic feet, compared with Tamar’s nine trillion cubic feet and Leviathan’s 19 trillion. Karish, which is north of Leviathan, is thought to contain 1.8. trillion cubic feet of gas, in addition to a quantity of condensate, which can be used to produce Brent crude oil.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Yahoo Email Account Passwords Stolen


New York - Yahoo says usernames and passwords of its email customers have been stolen and used to access accounts, but the company isn’t saying how many accounts have been affected.

The company said in a blog post that “The information sought in the attack seems to be names and email addresses from the affected accounts’ most recent sent emails.”

Yahoo says it believes the usernames and passwords weren’t collected from its own systems, but from a third-party database. The company says it is resetting passwords on affected accounts and has “implemented additional measures” to block further attacks.

The company would not comment beyond the information in its blog post. It says it is working with federal law enforcement.

Muslim Hackers Hit European Jewish News Site EJPRESS


A group of Turkish hackers took down the site of the European Jewish Press, which provides news updates on Jewish communities in Europe, overnight Wednesday. 

The hackers replaced the content of the site with anti-Israel slogans, including threats to “take revenge” against Israel for “injustices to the Palestinians, Syrians, Egyptians, and Turkmen.”

According to Yossi Lempkowitz, chief editor of the site, the attack began immediately after he posted a news story about the criticism against actress Scarlett Johansen for her representing Israel's SodaStream drinks company.

Earlier Thursday, Johansen announced she was stepping down as an ambassador for Oxfam, over opposition to the NGO's policies of boycotting Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria.

The site, said Lempkowitz, had more than a million users, and was quoted by dozens of news services around the world.

“We will not surrender to attempts to shut us down or to boycott us,” he said. “We will continue to distribute reliable information about Jewish life in Europe, to the whole world,” he said.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, General Director of the European Jewish Association (EJA), said that this was the first time hackers had managed to get control of the EJPress site, but far from the first time they had hacked Jewish sites in Europe.

“Sites for Jewish students, as well as a database of Jewish communities in Europe, are constantly under attack,” he said. “The database has information about more than 700 communities.”

Whatever the hackers' arguments with Israel, said Margolin, they were targeting the wrong people.

“We have in recent weeks been working closely with Muslim leaders in several European countries in an effort to fight efforts by politicians to ban ritual circumcision and slaughter, issues that greatly concern both our communities,” he pointed out.

$380M Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Yeshiva University Dismissed


A $380 million lawsuit against Yeshiva University filed by 34 ex-students of the university’s all-boys high school was dismissed by a judge Thursday.

The New York Post Reports that Manhattan federal Judge John Koeltl dismissed the case on his opinion that the statutes of limitations, has passed since the victims – ranging in age from late-30s to early-60s waited too long to file charges.

Kevin Mulhearn, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said he plans to appeal.

The lawsuit alleges the university covered up years of sexual and physical abuse by two rabbis who sexually assaulted then-teenage boys between 1969 and 1989 at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy.

Accusations were against Rabbi Macy Gordon, a former teacher accused of sodomizing a victim with a toothbrush during an attack in a dorm room. The suit stated the attack was reported to the school in 1980 by the victim and the victim’s father, but that officials did not report it to authorities. 

Other accusations from different plaintiffs are against Rabbi George Finkelstein, a former principal at the school, and Richard Andron, a former student and acquaintance of Finkelstein, who was allegedly allowed to walk freely throughout the school’s hallways and dorms.

The students say they they came forward with their accusations decades later after a December 2012 story was published in the Jewish newspaper The Forward that stated Yeshiva University Chancellor at that time, Norman Lamm, acknowledged the quiet departure of both rabbis after the sexual abuse accusations.

Amanda Knox found guilty of murder again by Italian court

Amanda Knox

American student Amanda Knox said Thursday that she is "frightened and saddened" after being re-convicted in the stabbing death of her roommate when they were students in Italy in 2007.

A panel of judges and jurors set a sentence of 28 years and six months for Knox, who returned to the United States after an earlier conviction was reversed. They also convicted her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, sentenced him to 25 years and banned him from traveling.

"I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict," the 26-year-old said in a written statement from her home in Seattle, where she returned after spending four years in prison.

"Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system."

It's unclear what will happen to Knox, who is certain to appeal — a process that could take a year or longer. Even if the high court confirms the new conviction, Italy still would have to seek her extradition. 

She has vowed not to return.

Sollecito's lawyers said they were stunned by the latest twist in a whiplash-inducing case that has made headlines on both sides of the Atlantic for six years.

"There isn't a shred of proof," attorney Luca Maori said.

Knox and Sollecito were arrested after British student Meredith Kercher was found dead in a pool of blood in their apartment in the university town of Perugia, her half-naked body covered in up to 40 knife wounds.

Prosecutors argued that Kercher was killed in a sex game, and Knox and Sollecito were convicted and sentenced to 26 years.

Knox was also convicted of slander for falsely telling police she heard a Congolese bar owner kill Kercher a claim that prosecutors say is evidence of her guilt but that she says was made out of fear during a high-pressure grilling.

In 2011, an appeals court reheard the case and acquitted Knox and Sollecito after independent experts said crucial DNA evidence had been contaminated by police.

But in March, Italy's highest court dismissed that acquittal — slamming the lower court for "contradictions and inconsistencies" in its decision — and ordered a new trial.

Although prosecutors claimed six years ago that Kercher was killed because she balked at participating in a drug-fueled orgy, they changed theories for the new trial and now say a simple argument sparked the violent frenzy.

Knox and Sollecito say that only one person is responsible for Kercher's death: small-time drug dealer Rudy Hermann Guede. The Ivory Coast-born man is serving 16 years for the slaying, but a court found that he did not commit the crime alone.

Kercher's siblings said before the verdict that they would accept whatever the decision was.

"As we've always said, we wouldn't want the wrong people put away and we certainly wouldn't want anyone who should be away out there free," Stephanie Kercher told an Italian TV station.

Her brother Lyle added: "The most important thing is to reach a final point in this case."

In her statement, Knox expressed "respect and support" for the Kercher family but insisted she was the victim of overzealous prosecution and character assassination.

"This has gotten out of hand," she said.

"Clearly a wrongful conviction is horrific for the wrongfully accused, but it is also terribly bad for the victim, their surviving family, and society."

Knox has said the prospect of another conviction haunted her as she tried to rebuild her life in the U.S.

"I imagine it all the time because I have to think the worst-case scenario,'' she told TODAY earlier this year.

"I have to prepare in my mind what that would be like. I thought about what it would be like to live my entire life in prison and to lose everything, to lose what I've been able to come back to and rebuild. 

I think about it all the time. It's so scary. Everything's at stake."

Senior Police officer involved in Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto Case To Face Criminal Probe

                             Major Crimes Unit head Maj. Gen. Menashe Arbiv

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Wednesday has ruled that a criminal investigation is warranted against Maj. Gen. Menashe Arbiv, head of Israel Police's Lahav 433 Major Crimes Unit, who has been implicated in a corruption case involving influential Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto.

Arbiv is suspected of having committed serious ethical violations while serving as the Israel Police attaché in the U.S. by allegedly accepting gifts from Pinto.

Pinto, who has agreed to testify against Arbiv and supply police with further evidence against the high-ranking officer, conditioned his cooperation with the state closing another case he has been implicated in, involving the alleged bribery of police Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha, head of the National Fraud Unit.

The police suspect that Pinto allegedly tried to bribe Bracha to get information about a third ongoing corruption case he has been implicated in, this time involving the siphoning of millions of dollars from a charity he headed.

Pinto, who is currently in New York, told his followers there that he intends to travel to Israel next week. Israel Hayom has learned that he will be deposed by the police during his visit.

"We're taking things one day at a time. The ball is in Pinto's court now," a police source familiar with the investigation said Wednesday.

"Maj. Gen. Arbiv would be happy of offer any clarification needed," an associate of Arbiv's said.

"He asked to be placed on leave of his own accord, to facilitate a thorough investigation in this case, one which would not allow Pinto to escape the potential charges against him. Maj. Gen. Arbiv is looking forward to offering his version of the events and refuting the bogus accusations against him."

Arbiv's attorney Gideon Fischer said he "won't comment on rumors, only on Justice Ministry announcements."

Meanwhile, Republican Congressmen Michael Grimm, who has been implicated in a federal campaign finances case involving Pinto, threatened NY1 reporter Michael Scotto, who asked him about the case.

Grimm initially refused to answer the question, but when Scotto asserted that it was a valid question, Grimm said, "Let me be clear to you -- you ever do that to me again, I'll throw you off this f---ing balcony."

As the exchange, which was captured by NY1's cameras in full, continued, Grimm added, "I'll break you in half. Like a boy."

Grimm later apologized, saying, "I shouldn't have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and lose my cool." Scotto said during a television interview on NY1 that he had accepted Grimm's apology.

Haifa's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Faces Corruption Chargers

Rabbi Shmuel Shalosh

Haifa District prosecutors informed Rabbi Shmuel Shalosh, Haifa's Chief Sephardic Rabbi, Thursday, that Attorney General Yehudah Weinstein is considering putting Rabbi Shalosh on corruption charges, subject to a hearing.

The Haifa prosecutors and the State Prosecutor's Office have recommended that Rabbi Shalosh be prosecuted for two incidents including suspicion of fraud and breach of trust. A third incident involves an allegation that the rabbi abused his position.

Who is Rıza Sarraf ...

AKA Reza Zarrab

The 29-year-old is accused of running a shady gold smuggling ring, bribing Turkish cabinet members and laundering money. AKA Reza Zarrab (he changed his name recently after becoming a Turkish citizen).

Sarraf reportedly ordered a 101-foot yacht to be built in his shipyards. Then allegedly came a $150,000, 
7-carat diamond ring and a $70,000 Rolex. 

The couple reportedly drove a BMW 7.60 ($360,000) and an Aston Martin ($489,000), along with a custom-made Rolls Royce ($1.3 million).Sarraf acquired two waterfront mansions on the Bosporous in Istanbul, an iconic location home to some of the country’s most expensive real estate. 

Sarraf’s two neighboring properties, built in Ottoman and Baroque styles, are connected via an underground tunnel. The mansions are worth between $26 million and $40 million.

He allegedly traded a ton of gold—literally—every day, and in 2012 his business allegedly traded $20 billion worth of gold. One of his main jobs was allegedly the transfer of 87 billion euros from Iran to Turkey through his companies. Because of international sanctions, when Turkey bought oil and natural gas from Iran, the money couldn’t be wired.

Sarraf allegedly handed out bribes to government officials on silver platters and in expensive suitcases. He allegedly bought Turkey’s former minister of economy, Zafer Çağlayan, a Patek Philippe 5010P tourbillon watch costing around $300,000.
  
Sarraf is behind bars, and the government has seized all of his assets (except those under Gündeş’ (wifes) name), even one of the racehorses.

Part 1- To be continued...

By - Joe Levin

Scarlett Johansson quits as Oxfam ambassador after row over SodaStream job


LOS ANGELES - Scarlett Johansson is ending her relationship with a humanitarian group after being criticized over her support for SodaStream, the Israeli company with a factory in the West Bank.
  
A statement released by Johansson's spokesman Wednesday said the 29-year-old actress has "a fundamental difference of opinion" with Oxfam International because the humanitarian group opposes all trade from Israeli settlements, saying they are illegal and deny Palestinian rights.
  
"Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years," the statement said. "She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. She is very proud of her accomplishments and fundraising efforts during her tenure with Oxfam."

Earlier this month, "The Avengers" and "Her" actress signed on as the first global brand ambassador of SodaStream International Ltd., and she's set to appear in an ad for the at-home soda maker during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

SodaStream has come under fire from pro-Palestinian activists for maintaining a large factory in the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, some 10 minutes from Jerusalem. The factory employs more than 500 Palestinians.

In response to the criticism, Johansson said last week she was a "supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine."

Oxfam took issue with Johansson, noting it was "considering the implications of her new statement and what it means for Ms. Johansson's role as an Oxfam global ambassador."
  
Johansson had served as a global ambassador for Oxfam since 2007, raising funds and promoting awareness about global poverty. In her role as an Oxfam ambassador, she traveled to India, Sri Lanka and Kenya to highlight the impact of traumatic disasters and chronic poverty.

Oxfam representatives did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Secret Service: Millions of Dollars in Phony $100 Bills Flooding Into NYC


NY - In efforts to stem the flow of an increasing number of phony $100 bills being smuggled in and placed into circulation in New York City and its surrounding metropolitan areas, the feds are stepping up their efforts including distributing citywide alerts to cash outlets, banks and businesses on spotting the fake bills.

DNAinfo.com Reports that a spokesman for New York’s Secret Service office said the most recent blitz is the work of an international smuggling ring which much like the drug cartels uses mules to sneak the counterfeits into the city.

Assistant special agent for New York, Michael Seremetis said the recent run of bills the feds are tracking is a bit different, in that they appear to be manufactured through an offset printing process as opposed to the sophisticated copying process which has become popular in recent years.

As a public service, officials are reminding both businesses and citizens alike, that if you wind up with a phony $100 bill, you willbe out the cash value, but you can claim it as a tax loss in your annual filing.

Obama’s Brother joins Hamas, says ‘Jerusalem is ours; We are Coming’


Malik Obama, the president's Kenyan half brother, was photographed in 2010 at a public event in Yemen wearing a 'keffiyeh' – a special scarf – bearing two anti-Israel slogans of the terror group Hamas, it emerged today.

'Jerusalem is ours – WE ARE COMING,' reads one saying. 'From the river to the sea,' says the other statement.

That rallying cry refers to Palestinian militants' belief that the territory representing Israel, with the Jordan River to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, rightfully belongs to them – and Israel should not exist.

The photo appears on the website of the Barack H. Obama Foundation, a group that Malik founded and manages, despite its lack of a connection with he U.S. president. The name in the organization's title refers to the president's father, the parent whom the two men share in common.

Malik Obama also serves as the executive secretary of the Islamic Da'wa Organization, a group created by the government of Sudan.

While the White House has sought to distance President Obama from Malik and his other relations, the Kenyan told GQ in July 2013 that the two speak regularly.

'Of course we’re close!' he said. 'I'm the one who brought him here to Kogelo in 1988! I thought it was important for him to come home and see from whence his family came – you know, his roots.'

Malik told MailOnline in March 2013 that his more famous half-brother is 'always at the end of a phone line if I want to talk. I last saw him on November 19 last year, shortly after the U.S. election. I went to the White House and offered him my congratulations'.

The Barack H. Obama foundation made news in 2013 after the IRS was accused of delaying the tax-exemption applications of tea party groups and other conservative organizations because of their political beliefs in 2010 and 2011.

But the Barack H. Obama Foundation saw its application approved in just 28 days. The final determination letter was signed by Lois Lerner, the former official forced to resign over the tea party scandal.

Malik is a practicing Muslim, but his embrace of militant Islam, including Hamas – a U.S.-designated terrorist organization – is curious because he has expressed a desire to run for president in Kenya, a predominantly Christian nation.

His first foray into politics ended badly when he was trounced in a regional governorship election in 2013, despite using a photograph of him and President Barack Obama in the Oval Office as his political calling card.

Police raid Haredi sect Lev Tahor in Ontario


Quebec police raided apartments occupied by members of the ultra-Orthodox Lev Tahor sect north of Chatham, Ontario, on Wednesday night, according to several Canadian news outlets.

The sect of some 50 families relocated from Quebec to Ontario in November fearing that welfare authorities were about to remove several children. Welfare authorities in Chatham have asked the local court to enforce an order to place 14 children from the sect in foster care in Quebec. A judge is to rule on the order, which is being appealed in Quebec, on February 3.

The Surete du Quebec confirmed its detectives led the raid alongside Ontario Provincial Police, according to the Montreal Gazette. However, the police would not comment on the raid because the investigation is ongoing. The police did not remove any children or lay any charges, the Ottawa Sun reported.

The leader of the insular sect, known as the "Jewish Taliban" for their anti-Israel views, is Shlomo Helbrans, an Israeli-born rabbi who served two years in jail for conspiracy to commit kidnapping in the 1990s.

Legal counsel for the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect told The Canadian Press that investigators arrived at the residences in the evening, searching for computers and electronics in connection to an ongoing criminal investigation.

A transcript of testimonies made by youth protection services in November reveals allegations that children were medicated with melatonin to control their behavior, and that they could be "in imminent psychological and physical danger," according to the CBC.

The community denies any mistreatment of the children and says they were already planning to move out of Quebec, according to the Sun.

In 2011, two sisters from Beit Shemesh, ages 13 and 15, had been sent to the Lev Tahor community in Canada by their newly religious parents. After an intervention by their grandmother, the girls were detained at Montreal Airport and returned to Israel three days later.

Crime boss Yitzhak Abergil returns to Israel to serve out sentence


Mobster Itzik Abergil arrived in Israel to finish the remaining two and a half years of his prison sentence, said the Israel Prison Service on Thursday.

Abergil has been incarcerated in a Los Angeles federal prison since May 2012, when he pleaded guilty to
being part of a major ecstasy distribution network.

For security reasons, Abergil's new prison location was kept confidential by the Prison Service.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ultra-Orthodox Haredi Campaign Calls IDF 'National Trash Can'


New drawings inciting against ultra-Orthodox IDF soldiers have been distributed in haredi concentrations and social networks in recent days, as part of radical circles' battle against the impending IDF draft law and the plan to force yeshiva students to join military or national service.
  
The anonymous campaign managers have published several cartoons created by children who have joined the battle against the "draft decree." The drawings were posted on bulletin boards in radical haredi concentrations, and the leaders of the campaign have promised to release additional cartoons soon.

Troops likened to bacteria

One of the posters shows haredi soldiers going up in flames inside a military post, crying out "help" and "Tata" (father in Yiddish – a common cry of despair in the haredi sector). Next to them stands a satisfied, smiling man-fox wearing an IDF uniform, with a beard and a skullcap, apparently symbolizing the person responsible for their recruitment and burning.

Another drawing presents a yeshiva student and haredi children fleeing a haredi soldier and crying out: "Predatory hardak" (a derogatory term for haredi soldiers used within their own communities).

One cartoon shows the "national trash can of the IDF and civil service," which yeshiva students are forcibly shoved into – and then come out shaved, in uniform and red berets.

One of the ads includes several children's cartoons which warn against the "poison of the hardak bacteria," refer to the soldiers as the "Cantonists of Israel of 2013," warn that "child abductors are roaming the market" and present a former haredi crying out: "Save me, I've became a hardak, I regret it."

Ironically, one of the posters is sponsored by the "Proper Speech Institute," which preaches against "slander, disagreement and humiliation." In order to justify its participation in the campaign, the institute quotes from the holy book "Chafetz Chaim" on Jewish ethics and laws of speech, which deals with these bans. "Instead of the destruction and demolition of religion… it is a great mitzvah and duty to do everything in one's power."

'To be or not to be'

Meanwhile, the drawings' distributors appear to be opening another front – this time against moderate haredi elements who are trying to harm the campaign. A leaflet distributed to synagogue managers urges them to document acts of vandalism against the ads or theft of propaganda material.
  
The radical circles attribute the acts to "striking forces of the army and Nahal and civil-national service," and plead with the synagogue managers: "At the instruction of the rabbis, may they live long and happily… whoever meets a suspected guy of this kind must follow him and document the theft in a regular camera or one installed on a pen… so that we can handle these guys according to the way of the Torah.

"These days, dear generous people have begun purchasing hidden cameras which will be operated in certain synagogue, where the hardak thefts are particularly active," the leaflets stated. "There is a lot of work of course, so the public must contribute and help.

"Jew, remember! Every booklet and every information paper is a very precious weapon. It has the power to prevent a Jewish soul from falling into the impurity and filth of the army and civil-national service. We are in a fighting retreat – to be or not to be… May we enhance the prestige of the Torah and cut down the evil."

French man charged after posting photos of Neo-Nazi gesture at Jewish school


French authorities have filed preliminary charges against a man over photos posted online appearing to glorify a deadly attack on a Jewish school.

Toulouse Prosecutor Michel Valet told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the administrator of the website showing the photos was charged late Tuesday with inciting racial hatred.

Valet said the website included two photos of a man performing an arm gesture known as the "quenelle." One photo shows a man wearing a Yasser Arafat T-shirt doing the quenelle in front of the Toulouse school where gunman Mohamed Merah killed three children and a rabbi in 2012. In another, the man is in front of Merah's apartment building.

The gesture was popularized by provocateur-comic Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, and is being increasingly used to express anti-Jewish views.

Neturei Karta Demonstrate in Support of Hungarian Anti-Semite


When Gábor Vona, the leader Hungary's far-right Jobbik party, made his controversial visit and public address in London on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, he faced protests by anti-racism and anti-fascist campaigners, who said he should never have been allowed into the UK in the first place.

But Vona also received support during his visit - including from Neturei Karta, a radical Jewish anti-Zionist sect.

Pictures of several Jewish men wearing traditional hassidic garb protesting in support of Vona and his Jobbik party were first circulated by the BBC - although the British media outlet initially erroneously claimed the group were protesting against his visit.

The confusion likely stemmed from the apparently bizarre spectacle of supposedly religious Jews supporting a figure who has been compared to Adolf Hitler for his party's extreme xenophobia.

Jobbik has been branded anti-Semitic and racist for its views targeting the country's Jewish and Roma minorities, and blamed for an increase in racism and anti-Semitism in the Eastern European state.

The party notably makes use of several Nazi symbols, including the Árpád stripes, which were initially used by the Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross, which collaborated with Nazi Germany and was instrumental in the deportation and murder of 400,000 Hungarian Jews.

In 2009, Jobbik MP Krisztina Morvai sent an open letter to Israel’s ambassador to Hungary, in which she detailed her joy at the deaths of Israeli soldiers killed by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

"The only way to talk to people like you is by assuming the style of Hamas. I wish all of you lice-infested, dirty murderers will receive Hamas’ ‘kisses'," she wrote.

But Jobbik's hatred for the State of Israel is precisely the reason why Neturei Karta turned up in support. Angered by the implication that it was opposed to the far-right party, Neturei Karta lodged a complaint with the BBC, accusing it of "distorting our message", after which the picture was removed.

On its Facebook page, the radical sect - which numbers no more than a few hundred and has been disowned by all mainstream Jewish sects - posted a status clarifying that its members were indeed there to support Jobbik.
  
"Members of Neturei Karta were demonstrating against the strident and aggressive actions of the Zionists against Jobbick [sic] and Mr. Vona," it said, referring to anti-racism groups opposed to the visit. "The Rabbis of NK were carrying a banner with a clear message: 'Authentic Jewry is Against Zionist Aggression'."

"The BBC ignored the banner and totally distorting [sic] our message. They stated that the Rabbis were there to demonstrate against Mr. Vona and Jobbick. That is totally false.

"I have lodged a complaint with the BBC and await the outcome."

Those familiar with Neturei Karta point out that its stance is far from surprising, since the sect's relationship with extremist groups - from the far-right to Islamists and the far-left - is nothing new.

"Neturei Karta has always been an important partner for far-Left and Islamist groups in the UK, who have cited the support of Neturei Karta as a fig-leaf defence against accusations of anti-Semitism," stated Stand for Peace, a UK-based anti-extremism group.

"In 2006, the sect’s UK branch leader Ahron Cohen stated that the Holocaust dead 'deserved it'. Similarly, Cohen was present at Iran’s Holocaust Denial conference in 2006 – paid for by the Iranian foreign ministry –[where] he was warmly greeted by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President and infamous supporter of terrorism. One fellow speaker at Iran’s conference included David Duke, former 'imperial wizard' of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan."

"In June 2012, Neturei Karta’s UK leader Aharon Cohen addressed a group at St George’s Tavern in London, according to anti-fascist organisation Searchlight. The group, led by ex-National Front member Troy Southgate, declares itself 'opposed to liberalism, democracy and egalitarianism.'

"Holocaust denier Lady Michele Renouf, a champion of David Irving, was one of the 30 attendees. The “New Right” is a neo-nazi organisation, run by a former National Front activist, Troy Southgate. It is the successor organisation to his “National Revolutionary Faction”, which Southgate describes as:

"…a hardline revolutionary organisation based on an underground cell-structure similar to that used by both the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the IRA…[...]"

Neturei Karta opposes the existence of the State of Israel based on the assumption that an independent Jewish state prior to the coming of the Jewish Messiah is sacrilegious. It has regularly aligned itself with extremist Islamist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.

Just yesterday, a Neturei Karta member was sentenced to four and a half years in an Israeli jail for volunteering to spy for Iran and "kill a Zionist".

Jerusalem Mayor Endorses Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu As Capital's Chief Rabbi


A rabbi who has repeatedly made anti-Arab statements and is considered one of the most fundamentalist religious Zionist rabbis in the country has won the support of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat as the city’s next chief rabbi, according to sources who have spoken to Barkat about the issue.

The family of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who now serves as chief rabbi of Safed and is the son of the late Sephardi Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, publicly endorsed Barkat’s candidacy as mayor.

Barkat's office said he is not promoting Eliyahu's candidacy.

“Barkat isn’t working for any particular person, but for the issue, and is dealing only with advancing the principle of a Zionist chief rabbi, not the appointment of any specific rabbi,” the mayor's office said in a statement.

“The mayor has espoused the principle that in a city where 70 percent of the Jewish residents are non-Haredi, there ought to be a chief rabbi from the Zionist sector alongside a rabbi from the ultra-Orthodox sector. 

Over the last eight years, Barkat has petitioned the High Court of Justice several times to stop a process that would have led to the appointment of two Haredi rabbis, until he managed to bring about a significant change in the process of electing the rabbis geographically, by means of community administrations that will ensure representation to all the city’s residents and enable the appointment of a Zionist rabbi.”

Before the election, Barkat promised the religious Zionist community, which largely supported him, that he would work for the election of a religious Zionist as one of the city’s two chief rabbis, posts that have both been vacant for more than a decade. The other chief rabbi would presumably be ultra-Orthodox, given Jerusalem’s large Haredi community.

A forum of senior religious Zionist rabbis eventually agreed on an Ashkenazi candidate, Rabbi Aryeh Stern. But sources who have spoken to Barkat about the issue recently were told that he would back Shmuel Eliyahu because he thought the odds of getting a religious Zionist elected to the Sephardi post were better than getting one chosen as the capital’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

Ilan Kaminetsky, who chairs an association of religious Zionist synagogues in Jerusalem and met with Barkat this week, said his impression is that the mayor isn’t committed to Eliyahu. He added that in his view, Stern actually has the best chance of being elected.

The liberal wing of the city’s religious Zionist community, including organizations like Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah and parties like Yerushalmim, vehemently opposes Eliyahu’s candidacy, to the point that some of its leaders have recently called for abolishing the post of municipal chief rabbi altogether.

“For more than a decade, the city hasn’t had a [chief] rabbi, and for almost 20 years, it hasn’t had an active [chief] rabbi," Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah heads Shmuel Shattah and Hanan Mandel wrote in a letter to Barkat last week. "Nevertheless, the city hasn’t ceased to provide religious services or to function.”

They propose abolishing the post and using the money to fund more community rabbis.

Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, secretary of the municipal Yerushalmim party, said the city hasn't suffered from not having a chief rabbi and doesn't need one "who will send Jerusalem backward" or is "merely seeking provocations," he said.

During his term as chief rabbi of Safed, Eliyahu has issued religious rulings forbidding Jews to rent apartments to Arabs or foreign workers, and has called for Arab students to be ousted from Zefat Academic College in the city. He has also come out against teenage girls from religious families joining the army.

He has said some of the comments attributed to him were taken out of context and some he never made. All the same, they sparked a criminal investigation ordered by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, which was closed without an indictment.

Over the summer, Weinstein said he opposed Eliyahu’s “inappropriate” candidacy as Sephardi chief rabbi, a post to which he was not ultimately appointed.

Eliyahu recently circulated a letter to principals of religious girls schools saying he opposes military service by women and urging schools not to cooperate with organizations that encourage religious girls to enlist.

After the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, he called for “taking revenge on the secular by returning their children to religion.”

He also faced a corruption investigation, which was also ultimately closed, over accusations that he gave civil servants false certificates of rabbinical ordination to enable them to get pay raises.

Barkat is considered close to the Eliyahu family.

In October’s municipal election, he was publicly backed by the widow of the late chief rabbi, who died in 2010, and by his former bureau chief. In an interview with Haaretz shortly before the election, Barkat said he admired Mordechai Eliyahu “very much, and he influenced my life – in the positive sense, of course.”

Over the past few days, Barkat has held several meetings on this issue with city council members and others, including Haim Druckman, a prominent religious Zionist rabbi. Eliyahu’s biggest backer on the city council is thought to be Aryeh King, whose United Jerusalem faction is a member of Barkat’s coalition.

Rabbis' Orders Can't Stop Religious Girls From Serving in Army


The IDF's top adjutants said they aren't interested in fighting with rabbis, but they will do everything else they can to keep raising the growing number of religious girls enlisting in the army.
  
"If they close the door on us, we know how to get in through the window," an official in the Manpower Directorate said Tuesday.
  
Not only is the army deliberately ignoring rabbis' instructions, young religious women are also choosing more and more to act against those guidelines.

According to IDF statistics in 2013, there were 1,616 new religious recruits compared to 1,503 in 2012. The 2013 number is almost double of the 2010 stat, 935 religious girls.

The IDF sources also said that not only are the numbers increasing, but the girls are choosing more difficult and significant posts. More and more are enlisting in the prestigious 8200 field intelligence unit and basic training squad commanders, among other noteworthy positions. 

Military sources said there was a similar trend about 15 years ago when religious-Zionist girls began to enlist into elite combat units.
  
Religious girls are permitted to decline army service and choose national community service instead. About 40% of girls aged 18 do not enlist in the army, while 36% of them receive their exemption through an affirmation that by being religious the army is not suitable for them.

The military is certain that many of the affirmations are false since all that is required is for the women to sign a form stating that they are religiously observant.

Army Radio (Galatz) reported recently that the Chief Rabbinate Council, led by Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, prohibited the recruitment of girls to the army, in any form, continuing the tradition of previous chief rabbis. As a result, Finance Minister Yair Lapid called to dismiss the chief rabbis.

The statistics show that the religious girls are enlisting from religious Zionistic schools. The connection is usually made in synagogue, or in social get-togethers, from girls that have served or are serving.

"Girls that have left the military see that army service isn't so bad," sources in the IDF said. "They don't become messed-up, they have the best conditions to keep their religion – and our studies show that they are succeeding."

NJ Hassid: 'I Was Saved by the Mercy of G-d'


A brutal assault occurred Tuesday night in New Jersey, as a hassidic-religious man was attacked by three African-American hoodlums while walking to the Sanz Yeshiva where he studies.

The attack comes after a relatively quiet month in terms of the "knockout game" of random violence largely targeting Hareidi-religious neighborhoods in New York. One 20-year-old was arrested for assaulting seven men on different occasions, another for assaulting five Jewish women in separate attacks.

Yechiel Rozenberg, the yeshiva student who lives in Union City which is across the Hudson River from Manhattan, was attacked by the three black youth while walking in his neighborhood.

After setting upon Rozenberg and cruelly striking him in the head until he collapsed, the three then fled the scene. The street was deserted with no one to help him. Rozenberg managed to drag himself to the yeshiva, where 'Hatzolah' emergency response volunteers were called to treat him.

Medical volunteers transferred the man to the hospital after seeing the considerable damage inflicted to his head from the blows, and from falling to the pavement. At the hospital he was given stitches on his head.

Rozenberg spoke to the hassidic newspaper Hamevaser afterwards about the attack, saying "it was very cold and apparently for that reason no one was outside, a fact the attackers took advantage of."

"There is no doubt you can say I was saved through a true miracle," relayed Rozenberg. "They hit me with great cruelty and through the mercy of G-d I survived. I required medical treatment and this morning (Wednesday) I went to the doctor again. Thank G-d, aside from soreness I escaped through a real miracle."

The shocking attack has caused great concern in the neighborhood, one that has not been the target of such blatant anti-Semitic assaults in the past. Police who arrived on the scene checked security cameras on the street in hopes of tracking down the attackers.

The mayor of Union City, Brian Stack, reportedly called Rozenberg's home not long after the attack and promised the police would do everything in their power to capture the assailants, and will redouble their efforts to prevent a similar attack from reccurring in the neighborhood.

The violent attack came just a day after the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday.

Israelnationalnews

Benjamin Netanyahu Denies His Son is Dating A Shiksa


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied his son is dating a non-Jewish Norwegian woman, Channel 10 reported Wednesday. In the first response since news of the purported romance between Yair Netanyahu, 23 and Sandra Leikanger, 25, made waves in Israel, an official in the Prime Minister's Office told Shas leader Aryeh Deri that the two only study together.

The PMO denied reports in Norwegian papers that Netanyahu told his counterpart, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, that there was a romantic relationship between the two. 

A report in the Norwegian newspaper Dagen shows photographs of the pair posing in different locations in Norway. The two reportedly met while Leikanger was studying at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

In an interview Monday, Deri lamented the news, telling an ultra-Orthodox radio station, Kol Barama, that if true, Netanyahu and wife Sara would experience "great heartache."

Deri said the criticism was not an attack against the premier, but rather an issue of national concern. "I try not to raise personal criticism, but if, heaven forbid, this is true, it is no longer a personal matter – it is a symbol of the Jewish people."

The Shas leader went on to describe the great efforts being made to prevent assimilation, saying, "I have friends who invest tens of millions, hundreds of millions to fight assimilation throughout the world. If, heaven forbid, this is true, woe is us. I hope it is not true…."

Other religious politicians came out against the reported relationship, including hardline Likud MK Moshe Feiglin and other members of Shas.

The Israeli organization Lehava, which says it aims "to prevent assimilation in the Holy Land," urged Netanyahu on its Facebook page "to prevent this relationship," AFP reported.

"Your grandchildren, as you know, will not be Jewish," Lehava director Bentzi Gopshtain warned Netanyahu in the post.