Newsletter : 7fax0523.txt
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IDF to Ashkelon Residents: Prepare for Kassam Attacks
The IDF has begun distributing to Ashkelon residents a handbook explaining how to
prepare for rocket attacks. The handbook also informs residents how best to handle a
serious deterioration in the security situation.
Hamas terrorist leaders have warned Israel that Ashkelon is next on the rocket firing
line, and within range of their rockets. Ashkelon, north of Sderot, is home to an
electricity generating station, which produces one third of Israel's electricity. The port
city also is home to several strategic facilities, including oil and gas pipelines.
Presently, Ashkelon has over 117,000 residents.
Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran
By Brian Ross (ABC News)
The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation
to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence
community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of
the subject, said President Bush had signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts
into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda,
disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial
"I can't confirm or deny whether such a program exists or whether the president signed
it, but it would be consistent with an overall American approach trying to find ways to
put pressure on the regime," said Bruce Riedel, a recently retired CIA senior official who
dealt with Iran and other countries in the region. A National Security Council spokesman,
Gordon Johndroe, said, "The White House does not comment on intelligence matters." A CIA
spokesperson said, "As a matter of course, we do not comment on allegations of covert
The "nonlethal" aspect of the presidential finding means CIA officers may not use
deadly force in carrying out the secret operations against Iran. Still, some fear that
even a nonlethal covert CIA program carries great risks. "I think everybody in the region
knows that there is a proxy war already afoot with the United States supporting
anti-Iranian elements in the region as well as opposition groups within Iran," said Vali
Nasr, adjunct senior fellow for Mideast studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "And
this covert action is now being escalated by the new U.S. directive, and that can very
quickly lead to Iranian retaliation and a cycle of escalation can follow."
Other "lethal" findings have authorized CIA covert actions against al Qaeda, terrorism
and nuclear proliferation.
Israel Calls for International Effort to End Weapons Flow to Hamas
By Jim Teeple (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israeli officials have called for an international effort end what they describe as the
anarchy in the Palestinian territories. They also threatened further retaliation for
Palestinian rocket attacks that killed an Israeli woman, late Monday, in southern Israel.
Israeli air strikes against militant targets in the Gaza Strip have killed more than 30
Palestinians, in the past few days.
Israeli officials said they will step up their attacks against Palestinian terrorists,
if the Kassam rocket attacks against southern Israel do not stop. Defense Minister Amir
Peretz said, for the time being, Israel is holding back from launching a major ground
invasion of Gaza. However, he said the international community must do more to end what he
describes as "anarchy" and the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.
Foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev says Israel wants the international community to
do more to stop weapons from reaching the Gaza Strip. "This is an intolerable situation
and it has to stop. But no one can doubt the fact that it is not just the Kassams
[rockets] themselves. There is the larger issue of the import into the Gaza Strip of
illicit weapons, including missiles, anti-tank, anti-aircraft, explosives and so forth,"
he said. "What we are talking to the international community about is to beef up
[strengthen] the international border, from Egyptian Sinai into Gaza. That must be part of
Meanwhile, some Israeli politicians continue to call for targeting leading Hamas
figures for assassination, if the rocket attacks continue. Saeb Erekat a close aide to
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel needs to stop its attacks in Gaza, saying
Palestinians are also trying to stop the Kassam attacks.
"I urge the Israeli government to stop such attacks and, from our side, we are doing
everything possible to insure that we sustain a cessation of all sorts of violence
including the firing of Kassams, howitzers and anything else," said Erekat. "Violence will
destroy any attempt to revive the peace process.
Hamas officials have said they would stop the Kassam attacks against Israel, if the
ceasefire was extended to the West Bank. Israeli officials have rejected the overture,
saying Hamas would use any ceasefire to rearm.
Ambassador Apologizes, But Storm Just Increases
US Ambassador Richard Jones has apologized for his statements about Jonathan Pollard.
Pollard supporters, however, have a series of demands: They want a full retraction from
Jones, as well as immediate action by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to demand a pardon from
President Bush. They also said they won't let Israel get away with low-level Foreign
Ministry talk of a release on "humanitarian" grounds.
The story began at Bar Ilan University on Monday morning, when Jones told an audience
that Pollard "took money for what he did [and] sold out his country." Even more
controversial was his comment, "The fact that [Pollard] wasn't executed is the mercy that
Jonathan Pollard will receive."
Pollard's wife Esther called the remarks "malicious incitement" in that they implied
that Jonathan had committed treason. Later in the day, Jones apologized, saying his words
reflected neither his personal views nor those of the Bush administration. Saying his
remarks were "misinformed and misleading," Jones added, "I certainly do not personally
believe that Mr. Pollard should have received capital punishment and I was appalled to
learn that I had given that impression."
The statement of apology was emailed by Stewart Tuttle, the press attaché of the
US Embassy in Tel Aviv to, among others, Malcolm Hoenlein, vice-chairman of the Conference
of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. The email included the comment, "I personally
thank you for helping us through this difficulty."
Esther Pollard said that without a full retraction, Jones's apology is inadequate:
"Ambassador Jones falsely accused my husband of treason, falsely accused my husband of
spying for money, and falsely accused him of harming the United States. He suggested that
Jonathan ought to have been executed, reinforcing the false charge of treason. All of
these false charges made by Richard Jones against Jonathan Pollard are still out in the
public domain and doing damage. Unless and until Jones takes retracts these egregious lies
and corrects the record, his apology is at best incomplete, and at worst insincere."
Reward Being Offered to Catch Anne Frank Vandals
By Israel Faxx News Services
A $1,500 reward is being offered to help catch those responsible for vandalizing the
Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, Idaho. Monday afternoon, the Boise Parks and
Recreation Department reinstalled the statue in its place in downtown Boise.
The $60,000 statue still has some damage to its side that will soon be repaired. Police
found it tipped over Sunday morning around 10:30. They believe vandals knocked it over
late Saturday night or early Sunday morning. "This kind of attack only emboldens our
commitment to human rights and it makes our work more important now than ever", said Idaho
Human Rights Education Center Executive Director Amy Herzfeld.
Gerrer Hasidim Declare War on Computers
Where else but on the Internet could the articles raise such a fuss? "There are no
kosher movies," "No more computers," read some of the headlines on Heder Shaket, the
online forum where Gerrer Hasidim conduct discussions, some of them daring, under a
blanket of abbreviations and internal code.
As usual in the virtual world, for a long time truth and rumor about what was permitted
blended together, but an official declaration of war has finally been issued - a war
against the increasing computerization of the ultra-Orthodox world.
Every Gerrer Hasid with a computer can expect a house call in the near future, meant to
persuade him to get rid of the treyf device. Those with an Internet connection - the
height of spiritual contamination, which only a few members of the community have
rabbinical permission to use, and that for work purposes only - will receive special
The purpose of the campaign is not to threaten computer users with sanctions, but
rather to explain the "spiritual dangers" to which they and members of their household are
exposed. If the Gerrer rebbe so wished, members of the community say, he would have
ordered the computers removed from his followers' homes. But the rebbe is not doing so,
perhaps because he, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, knows how difficult it is to round up the
horses once the stable door has been left open. And so, the campaign's purpose is
informative: Every shtibl [small synagogue] is to appoint two people to go from house to
house with the message that it is preferable not to have a computer at home.
While the battle over televisions was a successful one, computers are common in
ultra-Orthodox homes. They are used mainly for word processing or to watch "kosher" films
(Haredi-produced family fare, often educational). But many of them are connected to the
Internet. Efforts to create a kosher Internet with restricted access have not borne fruit.
Haredim from all sectors of the community participate in the dozens of Haredi forums that
exist. Some of the "heavy users" are from Ger, Israel's largest Haredi sect, with
thousands of families.
The moral issue is not the only one. For over a year, the Gerrer community has been
following the fascinating battle in the courts of Gerrer Yisrael Ackerman, who is
petitioning for the revelation of the identity of "Ploni Almoni" (the Hebrew equivalent of
"John Doe"), who is also apparently a Gerrer. In 2004, Ploni Almoni posted an anonymous
announcement on a Hasidic forum claiming that Ackerman beat up another Hasid, a man named
Levine, whom he suspected of disloyalty to the current rebbe.
The conventional wisdom in the community is that "Ploni Almoni" is one of a small group
within the sect that questions the current leadership of the community, and that behind
the lawsuit of Ackerman, the scion of a respected Hasidic family, are associates of Rabbi
Alter. Many believe the legal battle is intended to deter community members from using the
Internet, which can provoke the use of slander. On Heder Shaket and similar forums, one
can easily find content that is critical of the Gerrer leadership.
In Hasidic communities such as Ger, where allegiance to the rebbe is a fundamental
value and where every individual is dependent on community institutions from cradle to
grave, the increased supervision of the Internet is causing panic. One of the regulars of
Heder Shaket has already told the forum that he intends to get rid of his computer. "Up to
now I felt it was between me and God, but today I feel that it's against Ger and that I
cannot make my own law; I must accept the new regulations," he wrote. He called on fellow
forum participants to join "the measure to clean our homes."
The fate of the kosher movies, which Gerrer families watch via computer, is still not
clear. One married yeshiva student from Jerusalem related that he recently spent hundreds
of shekels buying Haredi educational films for his children to view, "but if during the
house call they tell me it isn't okay, then I'll throw them in the trash."
How to Become a Rabbi in Six Weeks
Israel Faxx News Service
The IDF has recently published an advertisement in the newspapers of the religious
public inviting those who are interested to submit their application for a "reserves
military rabbi training course," which will be opened in the summer, and join "the next
generation of battalion rabbis in the IDF."
The ad calls on people who wish to contribute to the state and who are interested in
the synergy between the Torah world and the military world, to join the course and gain
officer training and the authority to rule on military-Halachic issues.
The one thing that is not required of the applicants is a rabbinic ordination. Any
yeshiva graduate who studied in a yeshiva five years or more can apply for the course,
with precedence given to those who served in combat units. Up until now, candidates for
the rabbi course were accepted only if they were already ordained by two municipal rabbis.
Nazi Guard Dies Peacefully Before Deportation
A Nazi guard who had illegally taken refuge in the United States, and who was in the
process of being deported back to his native Poland, died at home recently while the
deportation case against him was being heard in court.
Jaroslaw Bilaniuk died of natural causes in his Queens home, while the case to revoke
his citizenship was still pending in Brooklyn Federal Court, the New York Daily News
The 83 year old Nazi guard was part of a program at the infamous Trawniki slave labor
camp in Poland during World War II, where Poles like him were trained to exterminate mass
numbers of Jews by operating gas chambers. Bilaniuk and fellow Nazi Jakiw Palij, also of
Queens, failed to disclose their wartime record when the emigrated to the U.S. after the
war. They were stripped of their citizenship in 2004, and the deportation case was nearing
its end, officials said.
"The evidence against Bilaniuk shows that he participated in horrendous Nazi crimes,"
said Jonathan Drimmer, a former Justice Department official. "It's obviously disappointing
that he avoided having a court render a final judgment against him, eluding justice for so
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