Newsletter : 13fx0529.txt
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Kerry Wants Major Israeli Concessions for Palestinians
Secretary of State John Kerry put a package of proposals for reviving the moribund
Israel-Palestinian peace process before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and peace
negotiator Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
He keeps the package's contents firmly under his hat. However, according to some of the
details revealed here for the first time by DEBKAfile's sources, Kerry's top-secret plan
places on Israel the onus of major concessions including strategic and national assets,
for the sake of buying the Palestinian leader's consent to sit down and talk. Palestinian
leader Mahmoud Abbas is not required to pay anything real in return - although it was he
that stalled the peace negotiations in the first place.
As the first of these concessions, Kerry wants Israel to permit the Palestinians to
build in Jericho for their prospective state an international airport for direct civilian
flights to and from America and Europe. Those flights would cross Israeli air space and be
coordinated with Israeli flight control authorities. Our exclusive sources further
disclose that, while Palestinian authorities would be in charge of security at the future
Jericho airport, Israel would maintain control of passengers and freight traffic by means
of computer and surveillance camera networks.
Kerry envisages the transformation of the entire Jericho region north of the Dead Sea
and near the Jordanian border into a busy hub for galvanizing the economy of the future
Palestinian state. He wants Israel to hand over to the Palestinians the Kalia region on
the northern shore of the Dead Sea. Kibbutz Kalia, albeit part of sovereign Israel from
its inception in 1948, is nonetheless one of the assets Kerry wants Israel to cede to the
Palestinians. The fate of the veteran Israeli kibbutz is left up in the air.
Israeli concessions would not end at the northern Dead Sea coast, according to the
secret Kerry plan; it would be just the first in a series of land and sovereignty
handovers granted the Palestinians in trilateral negotiations among Israel, the
Palestinians and the United States.
Syrian Rebels Near Israel Border Stole UN's Two `Virtually Indestructible' Armored
By The Times of Israel
A Syrian rebel group that twice abducted United Nations peacekeepers near the Israeli
border in the past three months stole several UN vehicles, a UN Peacekeeping spokesperson
acknowledged to The Times of Israel including at least two sophisticated armored
personnel carriers. An Israeli expert warned that the sophisticated UN-marked vehicles
could be used in surprise border attacks.
Video footage uploaded by the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, the Syrian rebel group that
claimed responsibility for the March 6 hijacking, showed the hijacked vehicles, which
included a UN-marked Renault water tanker and two RG-31 Nyala armored personnel
The RG-31 Nyala is a South African-made, mine- and IED-resistant eight-metric-ton
behemoth capable of carrying up to 10 men, and has a price tag of approximately $670,000,
according to analyst estimates. According to a Canadian news report from 2005, the Nyala
is "virtually indestructible" and is "designed to be able to resist two simultaneous
blasts from anti-tank mines."
Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for Stategic
Studies, said that while the vehicles didn't confer a game-changing strategic advantage to
the Syrian rebels, they were a platform by which the Yarmouk Brigade could launch
potentially deadly surprise attacks against IDF positions along the border.
Such a maneuver would hark back to tactics employed last August, when Sinai-based
terrorists launched a sneak attack on an Egyptian army base located near the Gaza Strip
and the Israeli border. The attackers killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, hijacked an armored
vehicle and careened the juggernaut through the Israeli border crossing. Speeding nearly a
kilometer into Israeli territory, the stolen vehicle almost reached a nearby kibbutz, but
was stopped in its tracks by a last-ditch airstrike.
In response to inquiries about the possible threat the trucks may pose to soldiers on
the Israeli border and nearby communities, an army spokesperson stated that "the IDF is
fully confident in its ability to defend Israel's borders."
Lieberman : 'Iran Nuclear, Syria Chemical, Hizbullah Rockets: Axis has Crossed all Red
By Israel Hayom
The radical axis of Iran, Syria and Hizbullah has crossed all red lines recently,
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said. Speaking at
a meeting of his committee, Lieberman said that Iran was moving at a "crazy pace" toward
obtaining a nuclear weapon, and that he hoped Israel would be able to make the correct
He also said there was no doubt that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had
used chemical weapons. He said the international community had done nothing while 90,000
people were massacred in Syria.
Lieberman noted that Hizbullah has missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel. He
expressed concern about a situation in which any terrorist group could strike Israel. "I
know the answer is more funding, but I think what is required is more decisiveness and
determination," Lieberman said.
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said that the elections in Iran next month
would have no effect on the country's nuclear program. Steinitz said a nuclear Iran would
equal 30 North Koreas. He assessed that "the next few months, a year or so" remain for the
Iranian nuclear standoff to be resolved.
On Syria, Steinitz said Israel was not ruling out any scenario in the Syrian civil war,
including a victory by the Assad regime. He warned that the S-300 anti-aircraft system
that Russia plans to sell to Syria could potentially be used to shoot down civilian
aircraft over Tel Aviv. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Tuesday that the S-300
system destined for Syria has not left Russia yet, but Israel will know how to act if it
Yaalon's remarks appeared to contradict Israel's air force chief, who said last week
the shipment of S-300 missiles was "on its way" to Assad. Israel is alarmed by the
prospect of Russia supplying advanced weapon systems to Syria, saying such arms could end
up in the hands of Iran or Hizbullah.
Arab Knesset Members Seek to Outlaw Cartoon Images of Muhammad. Moses and Jesus
By Israel Hayom
Arab MK Ibrahim Sarsur (Ra'am-Ta'al) has reintroduced legislation that would lower the
threshold for what is considered a racist offense and would ban the publication of
materials that disparage the Prophet Muhammad through a "cartoon, defamation and insult."
Sarsur is one of three sponsors of the bill, all of whom are from Arab parties.
Under Israeli law, a person whose actions are "crudely offensive" towards a religion
and its believers is liable to one-year prison sentence. The new bill, which is an
amendment to the Israeli penal code, would make the law less open to interpretation by
omitting the word "crudely" and specifying some of the instances where the stipulated
punishment would be applicable, such as the drawing of the Prophet Muhammad.
The language of the bill, which is the latest iteration of a bill first drafted in
2008, also makes it illegal to denigrate Moses, Jesus and various religious scriptures.
"The publication of a cartoon that depicts the Prophet Muhammad is highly insulting
towards Muslim believers as Islamic law forbids any attempt to draw the prophet or try to
portray the image of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him," writes Sarsur in the
preamble to his bill.
"There has recently been a noticeable increase in the attempts to hurt members of
various faiths, whether directly or indirectly, including Muslims," he explains, noting
that the attacks have been in the form of direct slurs and other "acts that cast a
negative light on Islamic symbols." Sarsur says his bill would improve interfaith
relations and address the need to "preserve the foundations of our religions and keep the
honor of all faiths and cultures."
In 2012, the French government defended the right of satire magazine Charlie Hebdo to
publish cartoons that played off of the U.S.-produced film YouTube "The Innocence of
Muslims." Riot police were ordered to take up positions outside the offices of the
magazine, which was firebombed in 2011 after it released an edition that mocked radical
JC Penney is Advertising a 'Hitler Kettle'
American retailer JC Penney has been criticized on Twitter and Reddit for advertising a
kettle that bore a remarkable resemblance to Adolf Hitler, the Huffington Post
The 10-foot tall billboard, which stands on Highway 405 near Culver City in California,
has led several motorists to stop and take pictures, posting images of the appliance
across microblogging sites. "That Hitler looks like a kettle," commented one user of
Reddit. "He even has his right arm extended," wrote another, while a third added: "I'm a
little Nazi, short and stout."
According to the British Daily Mail newspaper, another motorist tweeted: "Every time I
see that JC Penney billboard with the teapot, I keep seeing Hitler. Seriously, the thing
looks exactly like Hitler."
Proving the billboard may not be the best advertising for the retailer, another
commuter tweeted: "Uh, no thanks, JC Penney. I don't think I want your HITLER teapot."
Other social media users added that they dreaded to think what the store's pressure
cookers must look like.
The kettle - officially the Michael Graves Design Bells and Whistles Stainless Steel
Tea Kettle - retails for $50 on the JC Penney website. This stainless steel tea kettle has
all the bells and whistles you'll need - a cool-touch handle, space-saving design and a
delightful whistle to let you know when it's ready to pour," the website stated.
Holocaust Documentary Raises Questions of Guilt
Claude Lanzmann's 'The Last of the Unjust' explores moral dilemma: When your enemy is
sworn to exterminate every one of you, should you try to cut a deal with him to at least
save some lives knowing that others are doomed? The question lies at the heart of a new
documentary by Lanzmann, author of "Shoah," the hugely-acclaimed tableau of the Holocaust.
"The Last of the Unjust," which premiered at Cannes on Sunday, explores a moral dilemma
that Lanzmann briefly touches on his 1985 masterpiece. For three and a half hours, the
viewer is taken through an exploration of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last president of the
Jewish Council in the "model ghetto" of Theresienstadt in Nazi-annexed Czechoslovakia.
Set up by SS Col. Adolf Eichmann as a bogus town run by Jews themselves a
Potemkin village designed to dupe the world Theresienstadt was one of the grimmest
chapters in the long record of Nazi atrocities. It housed 50,000 Jews at its peak periods.
Over four years, more than 150,000 inhabitants were killed, many of them shipped to the
gas chambers of Auschwitz.
"It was the peak of Nazi cruelty and perversity... a unique combination of lies and
naked violence," Lanzmann, 87, said in an interview with AFP in February. To run
Theresienstadt, the Nazis formed a Jewish Council, comprising 12 members and a leader,
"the Elder of the Jews," or Judenaeltester in German. Those who refused the appointment
were killed. The first Elder was sent to Auschwitz in 1943 and killed six months later;
the second was executed in Theresienstadt in 1944.
The documentary describes the extraordinary and controversial tale of Benjamin
Murmelstein, a former Grand Rabbi of Vienna who became the third and final Elder in
Theresienstadt and the only one in all of eastern Europe to survive the war.
Survival meant that he became a target. In the early 1960s, Murmelstein was bitterly
attacked by some Holocaust survivors, who accused him of collaboration. There were even
calls for him to be hanged, like Eichmann, whom Murmelstein knew intimately from Vienna.
The documentary is based on hours of filmed interviews that Lanzmann had with Murmelstein
in 1975, 14 years before his death.
In it, Murmelstein comes across as hugely compelling, a man fiercely intelligent,
courageous and ironic, harsh with others but also with himself. Every day, he faced
demands from the Nazis that he was obliged to comply with - but he did his utmost to delay
or subvert them, and in the process enabled some to avoid the death marches ordered by
Hitler, yet knowing that others were doomed.
He is far from being a stooge or power-mesmerized monster, as other Elders in the
eastern European ghettos were and as he himself was later portrayed. "By taking huge risks
(in Vienna), he managed to get 120,000 Austrian Jews out of the clutches of their
persecutors, and what he recounts is a magisterial lesson in history," said Lanzmann.
"(...) One of the lessons of 'The Last of the Unjust,' in my view, is that at a certain
point you no longer have any other choice than to comply and obey, that all resistance
becomes impossible. That said, Benjamin Murmelstein fought tirelessly right to the end
against the killers. As he said, the Nazis wanted to make him into a puppet, but the
puppet had learned to pull the strings."
As the holder of a diplomatic passport issued by the Red Cross, Murmelstein could have
fled abroad after the war. Instead, he voluntarily put himself forward for arrest by the
Czechoslovak authorities after a number of Jews accused him of collaborating with the
enemy. He spent 18 months in prison before being acquitted of all charges. He went into
exile in Rome, where he found life tough, but he never went to Israel.
Murmelstein's recollections, said Lanzmann, are doubly precious, as they prompt a new
interpretation of Eichmann, who was kidnapped by Mossad agents in Argentina and hauled to
Israel for trial, culminating in his execution in 1962.
German philosopher Hannah Arendt, in her account of the trial, described Eichmann as
the stereotypical bureaucrat, embodying "the banality of evil." But Murmelstein portrays
Eichmann as a "demon," fanatical in his anti-Semitism, violent and corrupt.
A Holocaust Survivor's German Rifle
By Boaz Dvir (Commentary in The Times of Israel)
After the 1991 Gulf War during which I gathered real-time information about
Saddam's Scud assaults for Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Nachman Shai I earned my
first military leave. Friends invited me to reef dive Eilat's crystal clear Red Sea and
bodysurf Caesarea's Roman aqueduct-framed beach. To everyone's surprise, including my
grandfather's, I opted to spend the week at his Talmud tome-filled apartment in the
ultra-Orthodox enclave of Bnei Brak.
"Wouldn't you rather `hang out' with your friends?" Ozer Grundman, a Hasidic Holocaust
survivor, asked his secular grandson.
"I rather hang out here," I said, "and interview you about your life."
"You'll be wasting your time," he said, walking away.
My grandpa had separated his past from the present much as he kept milk and meat apart
in his glatt-kosher kitchen. My grandma, Rivka Grundman, a Czechoslovakian Jew who died of
diabetic complications 13 years earlier, had been similarly silent and so we never learned
about what she went through at Auschwitz.
As a journalist and the eldest grandchild, I felt determined to document my grandpa's
story, whether he liked it or not. So I showed up at sunrise on my first day off from the
IDF, a reporter's notebook at hand, a pen clicked at the ready.
Initially, my grandpa stuck to his guns. But I stuck around and on the second night, he
started talking a harrowing memory here, a gut-wrenching snippet there. Soon, it
all came pouring out. Over the next four days, until the get-ready-for-the-Sabbath alert
sounded across Bnei Brak, he told me about his childhood in Poland as the firstborn son of
German-Jewish immigrants, his days at a Warsaw yeshiva, his short-lived escapes from Nazi
stormtroopers, his years of terror and hunger in Nazi concentration camps and his
liberation from Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia.
After the war, he met my grandma at the Theresienstadt DP (displaced person) camp. They
married a few weeks later. In 1946, she gave birth to my mother and her twin brother. In
1947, when the United Nations ended the British Mandate of Palestine and split the land
between the Jews and the Arabs, my grandpa planned to move to Israel.
My grandma fought him, fearing the British- and French-backed Arab armies would
slaughter Palestine's ill-supplied 600,000 Jews. Indeed, an international arms embargo
enforced by the United States and nearly every nation appeared to doom Israel. But it
failed to deter my grandpa, who tricked his wife into relocating to the besieged newborn
state by claiming they were boarding a New York-bound ship.
Although she felt bitterly disappointed to disembark in Haifa instead of Ellis Island,
my grandma quickly composed herself to see her husband off to war. Tasked with warding off
the Egyptians in the Negev Desert, my grandpa's battalion possessed no machine guns, no
artillery and just one rifle and a handful of bullets for every four soldiers.
One day, weapons arrived like manna from heaven. When his sergeant handed him a rifle,
IDF Private Grundman gripped it with reverence. Holding it against the desert sun, he
no, it couldn't be. He did a double take. It was still there. He pressed
his nose against the metal to eyeball an engraved German eagle.
"Was this the epitome of irony?" I asked. "Irony, coincidences those notions
exist only in the minds of nonbelievers," my grandpa said. "Did seeing the German insignia
upset you?""Nah," he said, "I was just happy to finally be able to protect myself and my
We sat quietly for a few moments. Then my grandpa asked me a non-rhetorical question
that altered the trajectory of my journalistic journey: "Do you know how Israel secured
I had no idea. It all sounded crazy to me. So I told him I'd find out. Over the
following two decades, I interviewed the men who brought those rifles to Israel for
newspaper articles and my upcoming documentary, "A Wing and a Prayer."
The German rifles and other Nazi-surplus weapons, including ammunition and fighter
planes, came from German WWII factories in Czechoslovakia. Everything had to be
transported to Israel by planes from this landlocked country even the Messerschmitt
ME-109s, which had a flying range of 400-500 miles (Czechoslovakia and Israel are 1,600
To airlift the weapons, a group of WWII-veteran aviators Jews and Christians
from around the world, particularly the US, Canada and South Africa carried out a
mission so secret it remains virtually unknown to this day. Led by Al Schwimmer, who went
on to create and run Israel Aircraft (now Aerospace) Industries, they bought, repaired and
manned decommissioned US transport planes (mainly Curtiss C-46 Commandos). Outfoxing the
US State Department, FBI, CIA and MI5, which aimed to ground them, they launched a bogus
Panamanian airline and smuggled in the Nazi-surplus weapons from behind the Iron Curtain.
They also flew the Messerschmitts, drove away the Egyptian Spitfires and bombers that
wreaked havoc on Tel Aviv, and gained crucial aerial control over the Jewish state. Thus,
besides putting rifles in the hands of Israeli soldiers, this group of daredevil aviators
created the Israeli Air Force, which celebrates its 65th anniversary May 29.
By the time I figured out the answer to my grandpa's question, I was living in Florida.
I thought about calling him but decided to wait to tell him in person.
In 2003, my uncle called to say my grandpa had been diagnosed with late-stage
pancreatic cancer. I flew to Tel Aviv the next day. During one of our afternoons at a Bnei
Brak park, I told Private Grundman how that German gun ended up in his hands. My grandpa
sat quietly for a while. Then he smiled and said, "We wouldn't be here today without that
Boaz Dvir is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and freelance writer in
Gainesville, Florida; His first documentary, "Jessie's Dad," won Best Documentary at the
ITN Distribution Film & New Media Festival in Los Angeles and the CINE Special Jury
Award; "A Wing and a Prayer" is slated to be released in 2014
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