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Cell Phone Messages to the Kotel


Worshippers can now put a note in the Western Wall – through their iPhones. A Jewish-owned hi-tech company allows worshippers to compose an electronic prayer on their iPhones, Internet-connected multimedia cell phones made by Apple.

Worshippers send their missive to God using the KotelNotes application, which costs 99 cents to download. The company will then print out the prayers and post them within the Western Wall's cracks within a few weeks.

Holocaust Museum Shooter to Face Murder Charge

By VOA News &

Law enforcement officials said the suspect in the fatal shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum would be charged with murder and the use of a firearm in a federal facility.

At a news conference in Washington Thursday, police and federal investigators said 88-year-old James von Brunn could also be charged with a hate crime. They noted he was already a convicted felon who legally could not posses a firearm.

Police said von Brunn opened fire in the museum Wednesday, fatally wounding guard Stephen Tyrone Johns. Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Johns actually held the door for von Brunn as he entered. An FBI official said a list of names was found in von Brunn's car, which was parked in front of the Washington museum.

Police have described von Brunn as a "hard-core" white supremacist with a long history of anti-Semitic activities. In 1981, von Brunn broke into the Federal Reserve Bank's Washington headquarters, armed with guns and a knife, in an attempt to kidnap board members. He was arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison, of which he served six.

He blamed his incarceration on what he called a "Negro jury" and a Jewish judge. Investigators said there was no sign that von Brunn had accomplices in Wednesday's attack.

Von Brunn repeatedly expressed hatred of Jews and African-Americans, and wrote documents urging white Americans to remove both groups from the United States. He also ran an anti-Semitic website and wrote a book accusing Jews of inventing the Holocaust and attempting to "destroy the white gene pool." His racism was documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which kept tabs on his writings as early as the 1980s.

The suspect, who was injured when guards returned fire, is hospitalized in critical condition. He has been linked to a Web site filled with anti-Semitic and white supremacist statements. The Washington Post reported that his latest e-mailed statements had become more violent, declaring "It's time to kill all the Jews."

The Holocaust museum was closed Thursday with flags at half-staff to honor the memory of the slain guard, who had worked at the facility for six years. Johns "died heroically in the line of duty," said Museum Director Sara Bloomfield.

Israel issued a statement Thursday, saying the attack was "further proof that anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial have not passed from the world."

Demjanjuk Deportation: A Milestone

By Harry Reicher (Commentary)

The deportation of John Demjanjuk to Germany, to stand trial for Holocaust-era atrocities involving the murder of 29,000 concentration camp inmates, is an important milestone in modern human rights history.

After exhaustive and painstaking examination of voluminous material, courts in the United States have found, "by clear, convincing and unequivocal evidence," that Demjanjuk "actively participated" in persecutions at no fewer than four horror camps: Trawnicki, Majdanek, Sobibor and Flossenberg. At Sobibor, which existed for the sole purpose of exterminating human beings, he "contributed to the process by which thousands of Jews were murdered by asphyxiation with carbon monoxide." Moreover, his participation was "willing."

A central component of the human rights movement of the post-World War II era is ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice; indeed, it is a key index of the success of the system. And sometimes that applies irrespective of the effluxion of time (more than 65 years, in this case) or the age of the perpetrator (Demjanjuk is 89 years old).

The old adage, justice delayed is justice denied, is a good starting point. Applied to defendants, it is recognition that, in normal circumstances, it is unconscionable to drag out prosecutions and leave defendants waiting in limbo, with all the attendant risks, such as problems of proof due to unavailability of witnesses, staleness of evidence, the failure of memories and so on. The adage is in fact the underpinning to a constitutional guaranty, in this country, of a speedy trial.

But most good rules have room for exceptions, should the circumstances warrant, especially when the application of a rule itself leads to injustice. Justice, it will readily be appreciated, is a fundamental notion that applies not only to defendants. What about victims? What about survivors, relatives and loved ones of victims?

And what about history? Surely, they too deserve consideration, as part of the overall equation, in the sense of being entitled to see that the law is applied and that those who are found guilty of having committed crimes are dealt with accordingly.

How much more so is that the case when the crimes concerned are genocide and crimes against humanity, the two most egregious offenses in the international legal lexicon. So heinous are these offenses, and so destructive of the core fabric of international society, that they cannot admit of any limitations period, which would set a deadline beyond which prosecution cannot take place.

It is not at all far-fetched to imagine that, when Adolf Hitler said, in 1939, "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?," he was not simply referring to the fact that the Armenian genocide, of barely two decades earlier, was largely forgotten and unremarked, but also, very significantly, that, despite the fact that 1.5 million to 2 million people were slaughtered, no one was, in any meaningful sense, held responsible.

One of the principal rationales behind having orderly trials at Nuremberg, after World War II, was the aim of creating international law precedents and sending loud and clear messages to future would-be tyrants that this was the fate that potentially awaited them, should they choose to go down the same path. Making prosecution of genocide and crimes against humanity subject to time limits is a sure means of undermining that noble intent. An important component of justice, in the case of crimes of such enormity, is that those who commit them not be permitted to rest easy, or sleep tranquilly in their beds, for the rest of their lives.

This is the clear, unmistakable lesson of the Demjanjuk case. The civilized world owes a debt of gratitude to the morally courageous team in the Office of Special Prosecutions in the U.S. Department of Justice, which has conscientiously pursued John Demjanjuk through all legal machinations for more than three decades. The same applies to the prosecutors in Germany who are prepared to put him on trial.

In the world of international human rights, these lawyers are heroes.

Harry Reicher teaches law and the Holocaust and international human rights at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and is scholar-in-residence at Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center.

Reprinted with permission from the June 8, 2009 edition of the National Law Journal © 2009 Incisive Media Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. Incisive Media is one of the world's fastest growing B2B information providers, serving the financial and professional services markets globally. For a full list of titles visit Reprint information for the legal properties relative to content searches and copyright clearance is available at For questions contact, or 347-227-3382.

PA Teenager Murdered over 'Collaboration' Charges


A Palestinian Authority 15-year-old was tortured and murdered this week for allegedly cooperating with Israel. According to PA police, the primary suspects in the case are several members of the teenager's own family.

The suspects, both men and women, have reportedly admitted to their roles in the crime. They justified the act by explaining their suspicious regarding the boy's behavior. The victim has been identified as Raed Sawalha, of the village of Hija, near Kalkilya.

PA police are investigating the case, and have detained several suspects for questioning. PA forces said that at this time, they have not found evidence to indicate that Sawalha was in fact spying for Israel. Senior PA commander Adnan a-Damiri publicly condemned the murder, and promised to bring the killers to justice.

In similar news, an "honor" murder was reported in Gaza on Thursday, while in Israel a man was indicted for murdering his daughter in an alleged "honor" killing.

In Gaza, police found the body of 21-year-old Sadia abu-Saad. The young woman's father admitted to killing her in order to "preserve family honor." Abu-Saad is the seventh person to be murdered in Gaza for reasons of "family honor" since the beginning of 2009.

In Israel, Issam Nijam of Beit Jan was charged Thursday with murdering his daughter due to her desire to marry a man she had chosen. The father disapproved of the match, and in late May, shot his daughter seven times as the two argued. He then drove to a local police station and confessed to the crime.

Happy Ending To Divorce Saga


A man who refused to give his wife a divorce for four years, even though he was jailed for it, suddenly agreed this week – and the woman is now freed.

The drama occurred in and outside of the Jerusalem District Rabbinical Court this week. The estranged hareidi-religious couple separated several years ago because of the husband's violence towards his wife and children. Though the court ruled that he must serve his wife with a get (Jewish divorce), he refused to do so for four years. At one point, the court took the unusual step of ruling that the divorce must be forced, by jailing the husband until he agrees, but this did not work either.

A key Halakhic [Jewish legal] requirement in the get process is the complete acquiescence of both parties to the proceedings.

In the meanwhile, the case received an extra complication when the husband was hospitalized in a mental institution and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

A few days ago, the dramatic turnabout occurred: The police rabbi in the Russian Compound police headquarters in Jerusalem managed to convince the recalcitrant husband that it was time to put an end to the saga and give the desired divorce.

The wheels began turning immediately, before he could change his mind. Court Secretary Moshe Biton managed to call a session for the very next day, coordinating it with the husband, wife, their lawyers, and others who had to be present.

The rabbinical court session took several hours, yet it solved what normally takes months: finding an agreed-upon manner in which to divide the property and arranging custody over the children. Court President Rabbi Yifrach also held a long discussion with the husband, ensuring that he understood the proceedings and was qualified by Halakhic standards to give the get.

In the afternoon hours, the actual get was written and given, in the presence of two witnesses from the Eida Hareidit, and the woman – considered until now an agunah, a "chained woman" -- is now "unshackled" and free to remarry.

Dumped Mattress Lands Cash in Trash

By The Guardian

An Israeli woman has begun an unenviable trawl through her country's landfill sites after accidentally throwing out a mattress apparently stuffed with nearly US$1 million in cash.

The woman, who did not give her name, threw out her mother's decade-old mattress at her home in Tel Aviv on Monday after buying her a replacement as a surprise gift. She was then shattered to learn that her mother had banked all her savings, in shekels and dollars, in that most traditional of hiding places. She rushed off to retrieve the mattress — only to discover the rubbish had already been collected.

The woman went into the street to find the mattress, but it had been taken away by rubbish collectors. She then took a taxi to the Hiriya site on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, a vast mountain of rubbish being turned into a park that serves as a way station handling all the rubbish for the city and its surrounding area.

But she was too late. Three thousand tons of rubbish had arrived that morning from across the city and had already been loaded on to lorries to be shipped out for burial at landfill sites in southern and eastern Israel.

The woman hitched a ride with one of the truck drivers, who took her to the Ganei Hadas landfill site, near Be'er Sheva, in the southern Negev desert. But she could find no trace of the mattress and went on to another landfill site at Efeh, near the Dead Sea, the Yediot Acharonot newspaper said.

The paper published a photograph of the woman with her back to the camera searching through a vast and unpleasant pile of rubbish. A team of workers at the Efeh site were asked to stay on until nightfall on Tuesday to search for her mattress, but it was not found.

An Israeli police spokesman said he did not know of the case and no report had been made to police. There was no way to verify that the mattress was indeed stuffed with so much cash, but Yitzhak Borba, the manager of the Efeh dump, told Israel's Army Radio that as the woman waded through the rubbish she seemed "totally desperate."

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