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>Israel News Faxx
>JN Feb. 10, 2015, Vol. 23, No. 29

Israel, Egypt Forewarned of Synchronized ISIS-Sinai Assaults

By DEBKAfile

Intelligence gathered by Egypt and Israel attest to the former Ansar Bait al-Maqdis - now reborn as the Islamic State's operational arm in Sinai – being well into advanced preparations for a large-scale terrorist offensive targeting Israel forces manning the Egyptian frontier, along with a string of Egyptian targets across Sinai up to and including the Suez Canal and Cairo.

According to DEBKAfile's counter-terrorism sources, the Islamist group was so elated by the outcome of its multiple attacks on January 29, which left at least 40 Egyptian soldiers dead and more than 100 injured in Sinai and Suez towns, that it is determined to keep going.

Using different types of rockets, including Grads, as well as mortars and car bombs, terrorist squads then broke into military bases in four cities in Sinai and two on the Suez Canal and set them on fire. Others killed all the personnel aboard military and police convoys before putting them to the torch.

The ISIS Sinai arm is planning to target Israeli forces with a similar type of multiple offensive. Appropriate precautions for fending off this attack are in place.

And in Jerusalem. A large Fatah-led terror network has been uncovered. A list of indictments before the Jerusalem district court Monday revealed the uncovering of a large terrorist network involving scores of Palestinians resident in the Jerusalem district of A-Tur. They all hold the blue identity cards of residence in Israel.

Their leaders are Fatah activists Khalil Marwan Jiyassi, 21 and Bechar Abd Al-Maghrabi, 22, who live in the neighborhood. They were apprehended after harassing security forces with bottle bombs, fire crackers and large rocks as well as lobbing explosive devices at Jewish homes in the district. More arrests are impending.

Netanyahu 'Determined to Address Congress'


Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday that he is determined to address Congress next month over Iran's nuclear program, brushing off US fears his intervention could derail talks with Tehran. "I am determined to address Congress, that is why I decided to go to Washington and present Israel's position," Netanyahu told participants at an election event by his Likud party.

The White House has already reacted icily to the premier's speech, and it announced Friday that Vice President Joe Biden would not attend the address.

President Barack Obama said he will not meet Netanyahu during his visit, which comes a few weeks before the prime minister seeks re-election. The speech before Congress is expected on March 3.

Obama's allies fear the trip could be used by Israel and by US Republicans, who control Congress and issued the invitation, to undercut ongoing nuclear talks with Tehran.

The invite also sparked a debate within Democratic legislators whether or not to boycott the address, as well as American Jewish leaders urging Netanyahu to cancel.

At home, several opposition officials in Israel have pleaded with Netanyahu to cancel the speech so as not to undermine the "special relationship" it has with the US.

But the Israeli leader brushed aside fears of a dispute, saying: "From the day Israel was established to this day, there have been essential differences between Israel and the US, and relations remained sound - this will be the case this time as well."

Despite this, Netanyahu has reportedly been discussing several alternative options to the address, including downscaling the event from a live speech to a closed-door session of Congress or even canceling the event altogether and addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meeting in Washington instead.

The Israeli public remains divided over the issue, with 47% believing that Netanyahu should cancel the event, but 34% believing it is "crucial" for him to go - and a full 19% abstaining from answering surveyors on the issue. Obama on Monday insisted the United States retained an "unbreakable bond" with Israel despite his refusal to meet Netanyahu next month.

Obama, who is at loggerheads with Netanyahu over negotiations concerning Iran's disputed nuclear program, said diplomatic protocol forbade him from meeting the Israeli leader. "With respect to Prime Minister Netanyahu, as I said before, I talk to him all the time. Our teams constantly coordinate," Obama said, according to AFP.

Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed fears that the United States and other major powers are brokering a "bad deal" over Iran's nuclear program. Obama acknowledged the schism between the White House and Netanyahu over how best to tackle Iran, stressing every effort needed to be made to find a diplomatic solution.

"I'm looking at what the options are if we don't get a diplomatic resolution. And those options are narrow and they're not attractive... It is far better if we can get a diplomatic solution," Obama said. "There are real differences substantively."

Pew Report: European Jewry Shrinking


The Jewish population in Europe has declined at an alarming rate, according to a Pew Research Center report released Monday. 1.4 million Jews were estimated to still be living in Europe as of 2010 - just 10% of the world's 14 million Jews.

But that number has decreased significantly since 1939, Pew noted, adding that research from Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Sergio DellaPergola proves a steady decline in European Jewry over seven decades.

There were 16.6 million Jews worldwide in 1939, just before the Holocaust, he said - and he estimates that 9.5 million, or 57% of world Jewry, lived in Europe. By the end of the Holocaust in 1945, the Jewish population of Europe had shrunk to 3.8 million, or 35% of the world's 11 million Jews.

But even after the Holocaust, European Jewry shrank drastically. Between 1960 and 1991, European Jewry fell from 3.2 million (27%) to 2 million (16%) - and nearly halved by 2010.

By region, the largest drain on Jewish population was throughout Eastern Europe - with 4.7 million Jews in 1939, just 859,000 in 1945, and a mere 70,000 in 2010.

Pew noted that the factors behind the decline were not limited to anti-Semitism - although Europe did see a 436% rise in anti-Semitic incidents in 2014. A decrease can also be linked to immigration to Israel, assimilation, and intermarriage, Pew said.

The numbers noted in the survey are likely to have further decreased over the last four years, with rising anti-Semitism triggering record aliyah, in particular from France.

Hearings Begin into Child Abuse in Chabad Australia


The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia is holding a public hearing for Chabad institutions in the country after staff members were convicted of sexually abusing students.

According to JTA, the government-sponsored inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, which began in 2013, has allocated two weeks to interrogate victims and officials of the Yeshivah Center in Melbourne and its counterpart in Sydney, as well as senior Orthodox rabbis.

In particular, the report said, the commissioners will probe the response by Chabad officials to allegations of sexual abuse by David Kramer and Davis Cyprys, who were both employed by the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne in the 1980s and 1990s. They were jailed in 2013 for multiple offenses against boys at the Chabad-run school. Another youth leader is believed to have committed suicide before the court delivered the verdict.

According to Australian media, this is the first time that the country holds a public hearing on sexual abuse in a Jewish institution.

David Kramer was convicted about a year ago for sexually abusing four of his students, aged 10-11, in the Chabad yeshiva in Melbourne and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Aron Kestecher, who served as a substitute teacher and youth leader in the same yeshiva, was found dead in his apartment about a year ago. According to JTA, he was accused of multiple allegations of child sex abuse against minors and was due to face court in June 2014.

Davis Cyprys, who served as a security guard and youth leader, was also convicted of sexual abuse. His youngest victim was seven years old. He was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2013.

The former director of Yeshiva College Bondi, Daniel Hayman, 50, was charged with indecent assault of a 14-year-old child who was a student of Yeshiva Bondi and was given a 19-month suspended jail sentence.

The hearings at Victoria's county court are focusing on Orthodox Jewish Yeshiva centers and colleges in Sydney and Melbourne, The Guardian reported, and evidence will include statements from four victims and their families.

Counsel assisting Maria Gerace told the commission in her opening address that all the victims were students at schools run by the institutions at the time of their abuse.

"The victims came into contact with the perpetrators as a result of the perpetrators' involvement in or association with activities run by the institutions, such as after school martial arts classes, religious programs and overnight youth camps," she said.

One of the victims, known only as AVA, said he was groomed by David Cyprys in the 1980s at the Yeshivah College, Australia's ABC network reported. He told the inquiry that then-yeshiva head Rabbi Dovid Groner said, "I thought we'd fixed him," when he was told of the abuse.

According to JTA, a woman whose husband had been abused by Cyprys and Hayman said during the hearing, "As a spouse of a victim and whistleblower, I feel hated and isolated in my community. I have lost faith in the leadership of the Jewish community.

"Well beyond the horrible acts of the perpetrators against my husband that had ripped the rug of security, certainty and innocence out from his childhood, we are being screwed once more by the adolescent self-serving and callous response of the community," she said, fighting back tears.

Child abuse victim Manny Waks said he also told Rabbi Groner of the abuse he was subjected to in the 1990s and in 2000s, ABC reported, but Cyprys continued to work as a security guard at the center. "He (Rabbi Groner) practically pleaded with me not to pursue the matter," Waks said.

He added that he and his family had faced backlash for "breaking the Chabad code of silence", as many within the Chabad community believed it would increase anti-Semitism. The hearing is being streamed live on the Internet and senior rabbis are expected to be called to testify.

A spokesman for Chabad in Sydney told JTA: "We've been in contact with the Royal Commission and we are cooperating fully with them."

Chabad spokesman in Israel, Menachem Brod, said he was unfamiliar with the details of the discussed cases. "The entire human society is undergoing a welcome process of understanding the extent of the severity of sexual abuse," he said. "While in the past the common thought was that these problems could be handled within the community or family, today it is clear that the professional elements are the only ones who have the power to root out this disease, deter potential criminals and provide the victims with the help they need.

"The clear and unequivocal policy of Chabad's institutions in Israel and around the world is to handle these cases severely, first and foremost by fully reporting them to the authorities. This policy has proved to reduce the abuse, keep criminals away from the children and provide the affected children with support and professional help."

Adelsons Donate $40 Million to Taglit-Birthright

By Israel Hayom

Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson have announced they will donate $40 million to this year's Taglit-Birthright program, bringing their total contribution to the program to more than $250 million. Taglit-Birthright provides free 10-day educational trips to Israel for young Jewish adults.

Of the latest donation, $30 million has already been transferred to the program, while the other $10 million will be given during the course of the year.

As part of a funds matching program, the Adelsons matched the donations of other contributors abroad, and thanks to their combined efforts, an additional 25,000 young Jews this year will be able to make their first visits to Israel.

Some 400,000 Jewish youths and young adults have visited Israel as part of Taglit-Birthright, and their trips were largely possible due to the Adelsons' contributions.

The Adelsons are among the largest donors in Israel's history and have contributed to hospitals, research centers and universities. The Adelson family owns the company that is the primary shareholder of Israel Hayom.

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