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Plea Deal: Ex-Israeli Minister Charged with Spying for Iran to Serve 11 years

By VOA News

A former Israeli government minister charged with spying for archenemy Iran will serve 11 years in prison as part of a plea bargain with authorities, Israel's justice ministry said Wednesday. The ministry said Gonen Segev agreed to the deal after confessing to severe espionage and passing information to an enemy. The plea bargain will be brought to a judge next month, and no further information was provided. The announcement capped another stunning turn of events for Segev, who served as energy minister under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in the mid-1990s and was later imprisoned for trying to smuggle drugs into the country. Segev was extradited from Equatorial Guinea and arrested upon arrival in Israel last May on suspicion of acting as an agent for Iranian intelligence and relayed information about the "energy market and security sites in Israel." Israel's Shin Bet security service initially said Segev met with his operators twice in Iran, and also met with Iranian agents in hotels and apartments around the world. A gag order was placed on most of the details. The allegations were particularly grave since Israel and Iran are bitter enemies. Israel considers Iran to be its biggest threat, citing Iranian calls for Israel's destruction, Iran's support for hostile terrorist groups like Hizbullah and its development of long-range missiles. Israel has been an outspoken critic of the international nuclear deal with Iran and welcomed the U.S. decision to withdraw from the deal. More recently, Israeli forces have carried out a number of airstrikes on Iranian troops in neighboring Syria. In August, Iran's intelligence minister boasted on state television about his country's successful recruitment of a former Cabinet-level official from a "hostile" country, though he did not mention Israel or Segev by name. Segev's lawyers, Eli Zohar and Moshe Mazor, said they were still prohibited from discussing the full details of the case but that the plea bargain removed the initial charge of treason and brought the affair back to its proper proportions. "Indeed, Mr. Segev did have contact with the Iranians but his motive was not to `aid an enemy during war,"' they said in a statement Wednesday. Segev was previously arrested in 2004 for attempting to smuggle 32,000 illegal Ecstasy tablets from the Netherlands to Israel using an expired diplomatic passport and served prison time for that. A former doctor whose medical license was revoked, Segev was released from prison in Israel in 2007 and had been living in Africa in recent years.

US Holocaust Museum Reneges on Promise to Honor American Rescuer

By World Israel News

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has broken its promise to the family of an American diplomat who helped rescue 2,000 Jews that he would be "featured" in its new exhibit, the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies has announced. The Wyman Institute released the text of a letter that was sent from U.S. Holocaust Museum director Sara Bloomfield, dated March 24, 2014, to Dr. Barbara McDonald Stewart, who was the daughter of the late James G. McDonald. In the letter, Bloomfield promised Dr. Stewart that since "your father's story is crucially important," the museum "will feature him in our upcoming exhibition on Americans and the Holocaust." However, the Wyman Institute said, McDonald has been completely omitted from the "Americans and the Holocaust" exhibit, which opened at the Museum in April 2018. McDonald served as League of Nations High Commission for Refugees Coming from Germany (1933-1935) and chairman of the President's Advisory Committee on Political Refugees (1938-1945). He fought with the Roosevelt administration to obtain visas for refugees and repeatedly criticized the administration for "paying only lip service" to the plight of the Jews. McDonald charged in 1944 that the U.S. and its allies, in their policies toward Jewish refugees, were "guilty of face-saving maneuvers while millions of innocent men and women have been needlessly sacrificed. It is deeply troubling that the U.S. Holocaust Museum has broken its explicit promise to the McDonald family to `feature' him in its new exhibit," Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute, stated. "The claim by curator Daniel Greene (in Ha'aretz, Jan. 6, 2019) that `there was not enough room' to mention McDonald is simply not plausible," he said. "In a 5,000-square foot exhibit, surely there was room for at least a few words about a man who—according to the Holocaust Museum itself—helped save at least 2,000 Jews from the Holocaust. The museum should correct its grievous omission." Medoff told World Israel News that the museum's decision to bury the McDonald story may be connected to recent research concerning Roosevelt's treatment of McDonald. "In recent years, historians have revealed that FDR repeatedly broke his promises to McDonald to help refugees–and that McDonald became an outspoken critic of the Roosevelt administration's refugee policy in 1943-1944," Medoff said. "That information contradicts the new position that the U.S. Holocaust Museum has adopted in recent years, according to which they claim that there was little FDR could have done to help the Jews because of war conditions and anti-Semitism. Now that the McDonald story reflects badly on President Roosevelt, it conflicts with the Museum's position. That may explain why the Museum has decided to omit McDonald from their exhibit, instead of `featuring' him, as the museum's director had promised the McDonald family." McDonald's story is told in the critically acclaimed documentary, "A Voice Among the Silent: The Legacy of James G. McDonald," by Shuli Eshel. In the film, Prof. Richard Breitman of the U.S. Holocaust Museum says, "McDonald actually helped save many thousands of lives."

Israel Looks to Tackle Bedouin Polygamy

By Israel Hayom
On Hadra al-Faqira's wedding anniversary, just weeks after she gave birth to a daughter, her husband walked out and took a second wife. She hasn't seen him since he moved down the road in their dusty Bedouin town and started a new family, with seven more children. "I can't bear the thought of her," al-Faqira said of the second wife. "He destroyed my household when he started another." Although Israel outlawed polygamy decades ago, it's widespread in the impoverished Bedouin sector. Israel is now trying to end the old custom, for the first time prosecuting suspected Bedouin polygamists. But many Bedouin, who complain of systematic neglect and discrimination by successive Israeli governments, see only a ploy to curb their population growth and criminalize their community members. Justice Ministry Director-General Emi Palmor, who spearheads the campaign, says she's determined to enforce the law but is trying to do so with input from the community. She said she has spent two years researching the issue and discussing solutions with Bedouin activists. "The Bedouin community is the only place in this country where polygamy is legitimate, out loud, exposed, and no one is ashamed," she said. "It's a delicate issue, but it has to end." Critics of the campaign, including Bedouin women who oppose polygamy, mistrust the government's motives and the timing of the campaign. "It's simple: polygamy means more Bedouin children, and that means more demographic concerns from a Zionist perspective," said human rights lawyer Rawia Aburabia. The Bedouin, descendants of nomadic tribes, are part of Israel's Arab minority of 1.8 million, or about 20% of the population. Some 240,000 live in the Negev Desert, many in makeshift encampments lacking electricity, sewage or running water. Around 20 to 30% of Bedouin men practice polygamy, according to government figures, with the rate climbing as high as 60% in some villages. Bedouin polygamy takes many forms, from several wives cohabitating under the same roof to men picking up and moving on to second wives without looking back. The Bedouin are Muslims and Islam permits a man to take up to four wives, though the practice varies greatly among different Muslim communities, often depending on education and income. Al-Faqira, 47, was married off by her family at age 16. After eight years and four children together, her husband left her, saying his family preferred he take a younger, wealthier wife. For the past decade, he has refused to see her or their children, now in their twenties, claiming they are "no longer his business," she said. Al-Faqira said her children have fallen into drugs and street crime. She claimed that fierce competition with her husband's second wife has led to physical assaults on her family. Her husband's polygamy, she said, "unleashed violence into my life." Polygamy has been linked to domestic violence, psychological disorders and deepening poverty. The custom has contributed to lowering Bedouin girls' average age of marriage to 18 and driving up their school dropout and unemployment rates to 85% and 80%, respectively, experts say. Palmor's committee, formed in 2016, seeks to crack down on the practice through expanded police enforcement alongside anti-polygamy education in Bedouin schools and funding for programs that boost women's employment. Over a dozen indictments have been issued, and in November, the first conviction for polygamy was handed down. The defense sought community service for the man, who took a second wife after his first fell ill. The prosecution is pressing for 18 months in prison. The sentence is expected soon. Shefa al-Sana, a Bedouin social worker who helps women affected by polygamous marriages, said that despite a common goal, she doesn't trust the government. She pulled out of Palmor's committee, worried its emphasis on law enforcement would further marginalize the Bedouins. "Polygamy is not a random crime. It's a problem of ego and ignorance, men who have been stripped of their land needing women to treat as property," she said. Compounding suspicions has been the inclusion of Regavim, a pro-settler group invited to present research to Palmor's committee. It has framed the fight against polygamy as a way of stemming the expansion of Bedouin villages. Palmor dismissed accusations that her plan is politically motivated, pointing to support she has garnered from some Bedouins, most notably the human rights attorney Insaf Abu-Shareb. Abu-Shareb has remained in Palmor's committee, despite a backlash of Bedouins accusing her of betraying her community. "We've been waiting for 70 years, and the longer the government does nothing, the harder polygamy becomes to change," she said. "If I want the situation of Bedouin women to improve, I need to work with them."

El Chapo's Wife Wears Star of David Necklace to Court

By the Jerusalem Post
Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of the notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, made an interesting sartorial statement at his trial in New York City on Tuesday. Coronel, 29, whose husband, 61, has been indicted on 17 charges including conspiracy to murder, drug trafficking, money laundering and smuggling, appeared in the Brooklyn Federal Court Building wearing a Star of David necklace. But Coronel, a former beauty queen, removed the pendant after questions from the New York Post, the newspaper reported. "She just didn't want you to report that she was Jewish," her defense lawyer told the New York Post. "It has another meaning… It was a gift, it has meaning for her." The newspaper reported that Coronel was also wearing a "hamsa hand bracelet" when she appeared in court. A photo of Coronel wearing the necklace was posted Wednesday to an Instagram page purported to belong to her. A Spanish caption reading accompanied the photo: "So many times I ask to forget how to forget."

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