Saturday, February 06, 2016

Israeli government approves new egalitarian prayer area at Kotel

My friend Batya Kallus was instrumental in the negotiations between Women of the Wall and the government. Hear her on the NPR program this morning, "New Western Wall Rules Break Down Barriers for Jewish Women."

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Amiram Ben Uliel Reconstructs the Crime against the Dawabshe family

Ynet has just published an article about Amiram Ben Uliel, the man indicted for the murders of the Dewabshe family in Duma. Here is the article:

Amiram Ben Uliel
Amiram Ben Uliel
December 20, 2015, was a cold night in the village of Duma. The sky was clear of clouds, but the cold, around 5 degrees Celsius, was bone-chilling. Around 2am, the quiet night was interrupted by the roar of engines - a convoy of Shin Bet, police and IDF vehicles was making its way into the village, and the dogs awoke and started barking. The residents woke up in a fright and peeked outside to see who was raiding Duma in the dead of night.
One of the residents pulled out his cellphone and filmed Amiram Ben-Uliel leaving one of those vehicles. The young man was taking in the cold night air. Twenty days have passed since he was arrested, and he spent most of his time in stifling interrogation rooms, under constant pressure in an effort to make him talk, and get a confession out of him of the heinous murder of the Dawabsheh family.

Ben-Uliel managed to go 17 days without saying a word, until he was branded a "ticking bomb" by the Shin Bet interrogators, who received special permission from attorney-general Yehuda Weinsten to use "special interrogation methods" on him, the formal codename for torture.

After three days of intensive interrogation, during which he claims to have suffered serious violence at the hands of the Shin Bet interrogators, Ben-Uliel has confessed to throwing a Molotov cocktail into the home of the Dawabsheh family on the night of July 31, 2015, which caused the death of baby Ali and his parents, Saad and Reham, and wounded his brother, four-year-old Ahmad.

This confession, which he later recanted, led him and the interrogators to Duma that night, to recount the murder outside the burned-down Dawabsheh residence.

The reconstruction of the murder began in the car. The three interrogators and Ben-Uliel were looking around, trying to see if the area was safe for them to go outside. Ben-Uliel was hesitant. Several minutes earlier, when one of the interrogators was repeating the details out loud as part of the reconstruction, he gave short answers.

The charred remains of the Dawabsheh family home (Photo: Mohammed Shinawi)
The charred remains of the Dawabsheh family home (Photo:Mohammed Shinawi)
The interrogator wanted to hear from Ben-Uliel about the reconstruction, but he stuck to his evasive answers.

Interrogator: "Where are we going, Amiram?"

Ben-Uliel: "Ah... I don't know. Where are we going? I don't have a clue where we're going."

Interrogator: "What we talked about, Amiram. Nothing has changed."

Ben-Uliel: "I don't know... in Duma."

Interrogator: "To the village of Duma?"


Interrogator: "What are you going to show us in the village of Duma?"

Ben-Uliel: "Ah... houses."

Interrogator: "Houses?"

Ben-Uliel: "Yes."

Interrogator: "And what happened to these houses?"

Ben-Uliel: "They were set on fire."

The interrogator was content with these answers, explained the conditions of the reconstruction to Ben-Uliel and asked him to sign a declaration that said he was doing the reconstruction of his own free will. "Don't make me," Ben-Uliel urged him.

As they sat in the car, the interrogator says into the recorder: "The time is ten minutes to two, we entered the village." He then asks Ben-Uliel, "Look, tell me where you start identifying the area, okay?" The defendant's answers cannot be heard, and after a short silence he asks his interrogators, "Can we walk?" His interrogators ask him whether he can better identify the place on foot, and he responds "Uh... maybe. It'd be easier than seeing from inside the car."

The interrogators are conflicted. There's a large military force securing the area, but most of the conversation with Ben-Uliel is done inside the car, in order to not draw attention. They end up deciding to go outside anyway.

The confession Ben-Uliel gave and the reconstruction at the scene of the murder eventually led to the indictment against him in early January. He was charged with the murder of three members of the Dawabsheh family and the attempted murder of Ahmad Dawabsheh, charges that he now denies.
The evidence against him includes thousands of documents and protocols of interrogations conducted at the police's Nationalistically-Motivated Crime Unit at the Judea and Samaria District, as well as memos on Shin Bet interrogations.

He was interrogated around the clock - day and night. The interrogators worked in shifts, came and went, and he alone remained in the room, at times handcuffed to his chair, exhausted from the series of questions and the intensive efforts to make him talk. There were days he slept for only an hour or two, and days in which he was allowed to sleep for four hours.

Only a fraction of investigative materials

The lawyers representing Ben-Uliel and the other defendants have received 4,500 documents from the investigation so far.

Along with the documents, they received some 100 discs with security camera photos from the night of the arson. The large investigation team covered a massive area, from the Hizma checkpoint in northeastern Jerusalem to the Gitit Checkpoint in the Jordan Valley, and through the Tapuach Junction in the Samaria region of the West Bank. They went through every camera - IDF cameras, settlements' cameras, cameras of Palestinian villages, and private security cameras of homes in Duma.

The lawyers in the case, including Itamar Ben-Gvir, claim that the material they received so far was only a small portion of the evidence they still need to receive. They say they received no documentation yet about the days of the interrogation in which Ben-Uliel claimed to have been tortured, torture they say led to his confession.

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir at court (Photo: EPA)
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir at court (Photo: EPA)
If such documentation exists, it's doubtful they'll receive it. So the story of the murder suspect's investigation remains incomplete.

"An initial inspection of the investigation's material reveals a grave picture of an aggressive interrogation," claimed Attorney Adi Keidar, who represents some of the defendants. "We believe the full picture will be revealed later on."

Ben-Gvir also denied that Ben-Uliel was guilty. "Those who read the protocols will discover that he (Ben-Uliel) is doing this reconstruction not out of his free will, and doesn't know the area."

The reconstruction that was obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth is only partial. It's missing the part in which Ben-Uliel is filmed and documented recounting the crime and providing, according to investigators, hidden details about the scene of the crime and the arson itself that only the person who committed the crime could know - among them the shards of glass from the green bottle used as a Motolov cocktail, or the fact he tripped while fleeing the village - which was spotted by one of the neighbors.

The rebellious hilltop youth Ben-Uliel may have started the reconstruction with hesitation, but continued it with his head held high. He did not seem afraid at the Palestinian village. Moments before leading the investigators into the yard of the Dawabsheh home, one of the interrogators told him to put on a hat, and tuck in his unruly peyot. Curious residents are already looking through the windows and the interrogators are concerned the sight of the settler recounting the murder can spark a riot.

"I don't want you to stand out here," the interrogator tells Ben-Uliel.

"I want to stand out," he responds decisively.

"You want to stand out? In what way?" the interrogator asks.

"Just kidding, I don't know..." Ben-Uliel responds, amused. "What, am I ashamed of something?"

Come to Jesus II

Why Bernie Sanders Needs a Come-to-Jesus Moment

This is the advice that J. J. Goldberg of the Forward is giving to Bernie Sanders:
This is the right time for a big-picture speech that goes beyond billionaire-bashing and presents his vision — sort of an “I have a dream” speech. He might do it twice: once in a church in South Carolina, and again in a union hall in Ohio or Michigan. He could acknowledge that the upheavals of the past half-century have left a lot of wounds that haven’t yet healed, that America still has a lot of work to do. But right now the house is burning, and if working Americans don’t come together despite the hurts and suspicions, all the progress that’s been made since Martin Luther King Jr. spoke could well be lost.

He needs to say that working people aren’t each other’s enemies. That Jesus’s greatest lesson was forgiveness, and Sanders’s own tradition reserves its holiest day for repenting and turning a fresh page. That his campaign is about bringing people together around the big things they share to give America a fresh start. He doesn’t have much time.
Is this a Jewish "come to Jesus" moment?

Monday, February 01, 2016

Assaf Golan - Expel the Satmar Rebbe

Michael Pitkowsky, someone whom I read on Twitter, who runs the blog Menachem Mendel, posted a link on Twitter to this intriguing story published on the website of Maariv (in Hebrew), which I've just translated. It's about the visit of the Satmar Rebbe to Israel today. He is a fierce anti-Zionist, leader of the anti-Zionist Satmar Hasidim, and Assaf Golan argues that he should be deported from Israel as soon as he arrives.

Assaf Golan
January 31, 2016

Expel the Satmar Rebbe

Tomorrow one of Israel’s biggest enemies will land – leader of a Jewish community who sees in Israel the work of the Devil. It would be appropriate for this man not to visit a place that he hates so much.

The Satmar Rebbe, Rav Zalman Lev Teitelbaum, arrives tomorrow in Israel for a quick visit to his Hasidim. From his point of view, the central reason for his arrival is his nephew’s wedding. On the face of it this is another visit by a Jewish personality from the world, not someone who it’s necessary to deal with outside of the Haredi media.

But this is a real error. This Haredi leader controls one of the bodies most opposed to Israel in the United States. As part of his visit he will contribute much money to anti-Zionist groups who will fight against the conscription of Haredim to the army. Hasidim who are close to the Satmar sect ([Satmar] Hasidism has supposedly denounced them, but it is responsible for their worldview) have visited Iran not a few times and participated in demonstrations of antisemitic groups in the US against Israel.

In other words, the Rebbe is a Jewish leader who is outside of the Israeli consensus. He sees the state as a work of Satan and sees all of us as apostates who have been damned to Gehinnom, who do not deserve to live. Even worse than this, Satmar Hasidism views the Israeli fate altogether as punishment for the revolt that Zionism carried out against the nations of the world – including all the terrorist attacks and wars with Arab nations and terrorist organizations. Some of them even argue that the Holocaust occurred because of Zionism and the will of the Jewish people to seek for itself a place under the sun.

These facts, which have been forgotten by most of the public in the state of Israel, are backed up by public rituals of the burning of Israeli flags, performed in great crowds by split-offs from this type of Hasidism. Aside from this, these Hasidism perform many similar ceremonies that it is difficult to write about.

The extreme anti-Israeliness of a figure who is so important in the Jewish public in the United States is not something that the state of Israel can pass over as business as usual. It cannot be – from the point of view of world publicity – that one of the biggest enemies of Israel will arrive at Ben-Gurion airport, the entrance gate to the state of Israel. It cannot be that the authorities in Israel will permit him to continue on his visit without any investigation, without arrest, and without expelling him from Israel after a pronouncement that he is persona non grata.

The state of Israel was not prepared to admit Professor Noam Chomsky, a Jew who is one of the greatest critics of Israel and who also supports our enemies. Chomsky is a private individual, who does not lead a huge Hasidic community or bring large sums of money.

It is indeed true that Jews are compassionate ones, children of compassionate ones. It is clear that if Satmar Hasidim were to encounter trouble, the state of Israel would rush to its help. But there is a difference between helping a brother in trouble and making it possible for someone to enter who leads a continuous campaign against Israel. The Rebbe paid 100,000 shekels to every yeshiva whose students did not vote in elections; he prevented the Jewish community in Yemen from emigrating to Israel and he preferred that they should remain there, in danger, or go to the United States. 110 members of the Yemenite Jewish community were persuaded and moved to the US instead of Israel.

In the light of all this, it is very appropriate to expel this man to the United States. It is also appropriate that for everyone to whom the history and the future of the Jewish people is important, whether on the right or the left, should go out against the visit and demonstrate against this big enemy of the state of Israel, who comes to Israel and uses his Hasidim who live here against us.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Come to Jesus?

What is a "come to Jesus" moment, and can Jews also have this experience (while remaining Jewish)? (Question spurred by a post on Facebook that stated that Richard Dawkins had a "come to Jesus" moment in 2010 - although he has not converted to Christianity, as far as I know).

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fire in B'Tselem's offices in Jerusalem caused by electrical problem, not arson

It is a relief to see that the fire in B'Tselem's offices was not caused by arson - may they be able to return to work speedily.

From the New York Times
JERUSALEM — A fire in the Jerusalem offices of an Israeli human rights group that monitors the treatment of Palestinians was caused by an electrical problem, and was not the result of arson, officials with Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services said Monday.

The fire broke out late Sunday at the offices of B’Tselem and was initially considered suspicious. The group has been a target for right-wing politicians and activists in their recent campaign against organizations critical of the Israeli government that receive funding from foreign governments. But fire investigators concluded that the fire began with a short-circuit in a ceiling and said that there had been no sign of any break-in.

B’Tselem, also known as the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, said in a statement that it was “relieved” and eager to get back to work. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

B'Tselem offices in Jerusalem destroyed by fire

The offices of the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem in Jerusalem were destroyed tonight by fire, probably as the result of arson. The second Tweet shows the destroyed inside of the office. The same office building also contains the offices of the organization that runs the Hand in Hand bilingual (Arabic/Hebrew) school.
From the B'Tselem Facebook page:

My friend Batya Kallus wrote on Facebook:
The smell of the fire and smoke is lingering in my head after standing outside on the sidewalk as the fire department broke windows in Btselem's offices to allow the smoke to escape.

Ted Cruz and the "Body of Christ"

Ted Cruz is not happy when "non-believers" like atheists, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and others vote in American elections. He wants the "body of Christ" to awaken and vote for him. He claims to be "pro-Israel" but he is actually in favor of a one-state-solution that ignores the claims of Palestinians and that would ultimately destroy Israel as a Jewish state.

In an interview with James Dobson on January 4, 2015, in Winterset, Iowa, Cruz had this to say:
Cruz: Well, Dr. Dobson, you are absolutely right. In the last presidential election, a majority of evangelicals did not vote. Fifty-four million evangelicals stayed home. In the last election, millions of Reagan Democrats and blue collar Catholics across the Midwest and New England stayed home. 
I believe the key to wining in 2016 is very simple. We have to bring back to the polls the millions of conservatives who stayed home. We have to awaken and energize the body of Christ
We look at our federal government now. We have a federal government that is waging a war on life, a war on marriage, a war on religious liberty. We have a federal government that is advancing a secular agenda, that puts the ability of Bible-believing Christians to live our faith more and more in jeopardy, that is appeasing radical Islamic terrorism, in fact refused to even acknowledge its name. And if you look at the federal government, you might as, why do we have a government attacking life, attacking marriage, attacking faith, attacking religious liberty. 
Well is it any wonder when a majority of believers are staying home? If we allow non–believers to elect our leaders, we shouldn’t be surprised when our government doesn’t reflect our values.
Where does the phrase "body of Christ" come from and what does it mean? From the New Testament. See, for example, these passages from Ephesians and Colossians:
Ephesians 1:22-23: “And he (God the Father) placed all things under his feet (Christ’s) and appointed him the head over all things for the church, which is his Body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” 
Ephesians 4:15-16: “Let us in every way grow up into him who is the Head, Christ, from whom the whole Body, being fitly joined together and united through every joint with which it is supplied, according to the working in measure of each single part, promotes the body’s building up of itself in love.”
Colossians 1:15-20:  "He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the Head of the Body, the church; he is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross."
In these passages, the "Body of Christ" is the church, united under the leadership of Christ. The imagery is of a body with Christ as the head. Ted Cruz uses this explicitly Christian religious language to try to persuade Christians (and not anyone else) to vote for him. Ted Cruz isn't interested in anyone else actually participating in American democracy - for him, only Christians, ideally, should determine who our leaders should be.

Notice that he said, "If we allow non–believers to elect our leaders..." "Allow" non-believers to elect our leaders? Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, atheists, Buddhists, etc. vote by right and not by sufferance, as is enshrined in our Constitution.

He's used this language before. In a conference call to supporters on December 31 he said:
“If we awaken and energize the body of Christ– if Christians and people of faith come out and vote our values– we will win and we will turn the country around,” Cruz told volunteers on a conference call Tuesday.....
Cruz warned that, as the election nears, the attacks on his campaign will become more vicious. “I want to tell everyone to get ready, strap on the full armor of God, get ready for the attacks that are coming,” he warned. “Come the month of January we ain’t seen nothing yet.”
The "full armor of God" is also a biblical phrase, from Ephesians 6:11: "Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

Some more about his religious stances, according to the Washington Post (August 6, 2015):
“Believing is not simply sitting aside and doing a polite little golf clap,” Cruz told the congregation at his friend Robert Jeffress’ congregation, First Baptist Dallas. “Believing is putting everything you have, your heart, soul, life, putting everything (into) standing for what’s right.” 
His campaign website and his U.S. Senate biography tout among his accomplishments as solicitor general of Texas that he fought for the “constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument at the Texas State Capitol and the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance.”

Cruz has said he is judicious about mentioning religious views. In 2013, he told David Brody, a host at the Christian Broadcasting Network, that politicians have “a special obligation to avoid being a Pharisee, to avoid ostentatiously wrapping yourself in your faith. Because I think in politics, it’s too easy for that to become a crutch, for that to be politically useful.” 
Even so, he was back this summer on Brody’s show, where he calculated that if all evangelicals — including more than half who he says sat out the last election — “will simply show up and vote our values, we’ll turn this country around. We can turn our country around, but only if the body of Christ rises up.”
Despite his call for the "body of Christ" to rise up and vote for him, a call which would seem to exclude anyone who isn't a Christian, "Cruz is an ardent Zionist," according to the Post.
[S]peaking to an Arab Christian audience in Washington last September, he ran straight into a wall of disapproval by people who think Israel has taken Palestinian lands illegally and driven out Christians as well as Muslims. Politico said Cruz was booed off the stage for calling for absolute support for Israel, accusing those who disagreed of being “consumed with hate” and concluding, “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you.”
On July 6, 2015, in a debate with Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz said, in reference to the Supreme Court vote authorizing same-sex marriage:
Cruz, the Texas senator, said a five-justice majority "ignored the text of the Constitution" and said the cascade of judicial and public support for same-sex marriage threatens religious liberty in America. He said he hopes the ruling "serves as a spark, to start a fire that becomes a raging inferno as the body of Christ stands up to defend the values that have built America."

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Two men indicted for the murders of the Dawabshe family

Israel has finally indicted two men for the murders of the Dawabshe family: Amiram Ben-Uliel and an unnamed minor (could it be Odess?). Haaretz reports:
Israeli prosecutors filed murder charges on Sunday against two Jewish citizens for the arson attack in the West Bank that killed three members of a Palestinian family last July.
Amiram Ben-Uliel, a 21-year-old from Jerusalem, was charged with three counts of murder, as well as attempted murder for the unsuccessful attempt to set alight another house.  
An accessory to murder charge was filed against a minor who is suspected of participating in the incident, while two others were charged with violence against Palestinians.  
It remains unclear whether other suspects held by the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police were released or if investigations are ongoing. 
Ben-Uliel was detained by the Shin Bet on December 1. According to the indictment filed at Lod District Court on Sunday, he committed the act himself, in retaliation for the June murder of Malachai Rosenfeld, not far from the West Bank village of Duma. Before the arson, Ben-Uliel and the minor, who was charged as an accessory for allegedly participating in the planning of the attack, scouted villages before settling on Duma. 
According to the charge sheet, the two also planed to attack the nearby village of Majdal, with the purpose of killing people in their beds. 
On the night of the attack on the Dawabsheh home, Ben-Uliel decided to proceed with the arson alone after failing to meet up with the minor at the appointed place. He allegedly searched for a home that was inhabited and used his first firebomb on a two-storey building that turned out to be uninhabited. He then proceded to the Dawabshehs' home, prepared his firebomb in the yard and spray-painted graffiti on the walls, before throwing the firebomb into the house and fleeing on foot. 
The eldest son in his family, Ben-Uliel grew up in the settlement of Karmei Zur. His father, Reuven, is the rabbi of the settlement and also serves as the rabbi for Mechina Nokdim, a preparatory program for religious youths entering the army. After the murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammad Abu Khdeir last July, he signed a letter condemning the act. 
For years, Amiram Ben-Uliel was part of the Hilltop Youth movement of Jewish extremists, although not its head. He was the face of the Ramat Migron outpost, and spent time in the Giulat Tzion outpost and the settlement of Itamar. Two years ago, he married Orian Nizri, an activist known for her extremism and violence. They lived in a bus in the Adei Ad outpost. After the Duma arson attack, they moved to Jerusalem and became ultra-Orthodox. The couple has a baby. 
Ben-Uliel has been involved in several criminal cases. He previously expressed that he does not recognize Israeli courts and demands to be judged according to traditional Jewish law. Ben-Uliel is the only suspect detained in the Duma issue who was not placed under a Shin Bet restraining order, indicating that he somehow managed to evade the Shin Bet’s radar..... 
Also charged were Yinon Reuveni, accused of setting fire to the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish in the Galilee, and another minor, identified only as A., accused of a series of incidents of vandalism and arson against property and cars. Reuveni and two minors were also charged with setting fire to a building near Jerusalem's Dormition Abbey last February. 
A. is a resident of the Tzofim settlement and the son of the community's rabbi. He is also a member of Tzohar, a religious Orthodox Zionist organization and part of the Hilltop Youth movement. He was inspired to join the movement by his older brother, who is known to the Shin Bet as a right-wing extremist with a violent past. 
A. had been detained by the Shin Bet in the past, but was always released due to lack of evidence. After one of the investigations, he published a video in which he explained that he remained silent during questioning because communicating with the Shin Bet was akin to communicating with representatives of the "Kingdom of Evil." 
Nine suspects have been detained as part of the police and Shin Bet investigation, which is still in progress. In total, 23 people were suspected of violence against Palestinians. 
A break in the case came three weeks ago, when Shin Bet began to use what they termed extraordinary measures during interrogations, first with A. At the beginning, the minor admitted his involvement in other incidents, but not the Duma firebombing. Under torture, he admitted they planned the event, but he had fallen asleep and did not arrive to the location in time. After his incrimination, special interrogation tactics were used on Ben-Uliel, who admitted to the crime and recounted the incident..... 
The Shin Bet did not address the nature of the investigation, but in a briefing on Sunday morning said that a part of The Revolt network, which aims to topple the government, became stronger at the end of 2013. The organization's documents, which were found but have not yet been published, indicate that its intent is to name a king, reconstruct the Temple, eliminate idolatry, expel Gentiles and install religious coercion in the public domain.

Monday, December 28, 2015

One suspect in the Dawabshe murders has been released, two more may be charged this week

According to the Times of Israel (getting their information from Israel Radio), one of the suspects in the Dawabshe murders has been released. They didn't reveal the name.

An article in the Jewish Press also discusses the release of this suspect, giving the perspective of Honenu, the right-wing organization that defends civilians and soldiers accused of offenses against Palestinians.

Update: Chaim Levinson of Haaretz has a more complete report:
The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Monday released one of the suspects in the so-called "Jewish terror" case to house arrest, after all the more serious suspicions against him proved baseless. 
Police said they planned to indict him for assaulting Palestinians. 
The suspect, 18, who frequented the Baladim outpost near the West Bank's Kochav Hashachar settlement, was arrested a month ago by the Shin Bet and was blocked from meeting with his lawyer for 18 days. 
He was questioned on suspicion he was involved in the Duma arson attack that killed three members of the Dawabsheh family, but after a month of interrogation the case against him fizzled out.  
However, during questioning it emerged that the youth had been involved in a scuffle two years ago in which he and others beat a Palestinian man near the outpost. 
Police submitted an intent-to-prosecute declaration and asked to extend his remand until he was charged, but the court rejected the request and sent the youth to house arrest. Police have appealed his release to the district court. 
Two intent-to-prosecute declarations were meant to be issued Monday against the main Duma suspect and another suspect, but they were not submitted in the end and their remands were extended for two days. Prosecutors were still debating whether the second suspect can be charged with murder for his small role in the incident.
Further update:

According to Ran Dahan on his Facebook page, Hanoch Ganiram has been released to 10 days of house arrest. He did not confess to the arson and murder in Duma. Odess and Amiram are being held in remand until Wednesday.

I don't know who Ran Dahan is and whether his information is reliable, but it does fit the other articles that I've read.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Who murdered the Dawabshe family last summer?

Electronic Intifada is not my favorite source, but they have reported the names of the two young men who have been arrested for the murders of the Dawabshe family - Hanoch Ganiram (who is over 18) and Elisha Odess (age 16). The Forward confirms that one of those arrested is Odess.

Elisha Odess
The Facebook page for כולנו עם עצורי ציון announced on November 30 that Ganiram and Odess had been arrested.

"Take counsel together, and it shall be brought to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand."

Hey gang!! Elisha Odess and Hanoch Ganiram have been arrested for arson in Duma! The Zionists are trying to use all their power to break them! We are trying to organise a 24-hour retreat for their success. 

The Times of Israel has posted a list from the Facebook page כולנו עם עצורי ציון ("We are all with the prisoners of Zion"), which shows the names of many men who have been arrested. Some are being held in administrative detention, some have been arrested and are being charged, some are being interrogated by the Shin Bet, and some are in prison. The first names and names of their mothers are given, because this is a list of people that they think we should pray for.

The two men named by Electronic Intifada are among the list of seven men being interrogated by the Shin Bet - חנוך בן חסיה ענת and אלישע חיים בן נעמה לאה. Hanoch Ganiram is the grandson of Yitzhak Ganiram, who was involved in the Jewish Underground in the early 1980s. Richard Silverstein of Tikkun Olam (another source I would usually find unreliable) is reporting that two other people have also been arrested, one of whom is Amiram Benoliel and the other is Israel Keller (Ynet reported that Nir Keller, the father of Israel Keller, wrote a post on his Facebook page condemning President Ruvi Rivlin as the "Fuhrer." Ynet doesn't name him, but Richard Edmondson does). It seems likely that they correspond to עמירם בן נורית and ישראל דב בער בן ברכה הילה. Silverstein has also reported that another person has been arrested in connection with this case - Tzur Israel Bengusi, whose name would correspond to צור ישראל בן דליה in the list below. It's only because the names that Silverstein is giving correspond to the names in this list that I'm using him as a source.

We will know for certain once they've been indicted, which will be soon, I hope. This investigation has dragged on for months.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Lehava, Bentzi Gopstein, and another wedding of hate

On December 23, part of a video was shown on Israeli television of a recent wedding between two well-known members of the far right in Israel. The video showed dancing and singing. The songs were songs of revenge and they were dancing with weapons in their hands: knives, automatic weapons, and Molotov cocktails. They were part of the same group of hilltop youth from whom came those accused of murdering the Dawabshe family. The same day, there was a demonstration in Tel Aviv by other hilltop youth against the arrest and questioning of the suspects in the murders.

But apparently this was not the only time songs of revenge were sung at a wedding. Below is a clip from Israel television, from 2013, showing a very similar wedding scene. The bride is the daughter of Benzi Gopstein, the leader of Lehava, the fascist group that protests at weddings between Arabs and Jews and also hangs out in the center of Jerusalem at night in order to beat up Arabs. The clip is in Hebrew with English subtitles. It's very disturbing.

And here is another video about Bentzi Gopstein and Lehava, demonstrating more of their racist behavior.

More about the "wedding of hate" broadcast on Israel channel 2

From the Times of Israel:
Dozens of guests at a far-right wedding, where the murders of the Dawabshe family were celebrated, as seen in a now-infamous clip, will be summoned by police for questioning next week. 
[Clip from the wedding, from Ynet:]
Channel 2 on Thursday night featured new footage of the event, which showed that Bentzi Gopstein, leader of the far-right Lehava organization, and Itamar Ben Gvir, the attorney for the Duma firebombing suspects, were present at the wedding. The new video featured more dancing with rifles, knives, and firebombs, as well as images of revelers torching and stabbing a photo of 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe, who was burned to death in the July 31 attack in the West Bank village of Duma.... 
The groom, who is reportedly friends with the Jewish extremists detained in connection with the firebombing attack, said Thursday he was unaware of the celebrations of the murder at his wedding.  “I didn’t even see it. At my wedding I was in the clouds, not on the ground at all,” Yakir Ashbal told Channel 10.
He called the footage “shocking,” but insisted that “there were about 600 people at my wedding, and this wasn’t something I agreed to. There were a million people. I don’t control what happens at my wedding. I’m just the groom; I didn’t even pay for the photographer or the singer.” 
Ashbal’s father, too, joined the chorus of denunciation Thursday, insisting he would have stopped the revelers calling for “vengeance” if he had seen them. 
According to Channel 10, Ashbal belongs to a group calling itself “The Rebellion,” which advocates the toppling of the Israeli state and its replacement by a Jewish monarchy. The group also reportedly supports expelling non-Jews from the land. 
Both bride and groom have previously been investigated by the Shin Bet. 
The video drew widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum, though some right-wing lawmakers accused security officials of leaking the clip to demonize Jewish extremists being investigated over the murder of three members of a Palestinian family in July.... 
The attack in Duma killed three members of a Palestinian family. Only one member of the Dawabsha family — Ahmed, now 5 — survived the attack, and remains hospitalized in Israel. The 18-month-old baby Ali was killed on the night of the attack, while parents Riham and Saad succumbed to their injuries in the succeeding weeks. 
An unspecified number of Jewish suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack, which is being investigated as an act of terrorism. Details of the investigation, and the identity of the suspects, have been withheld from publication by a court-imposed gag order.
More on the events in the wedding (also from Times of Israel):
The crowd in the video chants the lyrics of a song which include a verse from Judges 16:28, quoting Samson, blinded in Gaza, saying “let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes” — but changing the word Philistines to Palestine.....

According to Haaretz reporter Chaim Levinson on Twitter, the bride was arrested in the past for carrying out an attack against Palestinians, along with the wife of one of the main suspects in the Duma case. She received 350 hours of community service for the crime.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Republican candidates once again reveal they haven't read the Constitution

Apparently several of our Republican candidates for president have not yet read the first amendment to the Constitution, which states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Donald Trump repeated his call to inspect mosques for signs of radicals. He said that if he were to become president "surveillance of mosques is something that he would 'watch and study' because 'a lot of talk is going on at the mosques.'" Last month he said that "he would be open to shutting down mosques as part of the fight against" ISIS.

Ben Carson said that  "Muslim clerics should be pressured to condemn the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL."
“I believe that we need to put a lot more pressure on the clerics, the imams, to make a very distinct line between what ISIS, ISIL, the radical Islamic jihadists are doing, and what traditional Islam is about,” Mr. Carson said in Nevada.
And Jeb Bush said that the US should only accept Christian refugees from Syria - ignoring the fact that most of the victims of ISIS have been Muslims, especially Shi'ite Muslims.

President Obama denounced these suggestions:
“When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution — that’s shameful,” the president said.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

On the Paris attacks and ISIS responsibility

I haven't posted anything to my blog since September, but the reactions that I have been reading in some leftist articles to the ISIS murders in Paris last night are infuriating me. The articles seem to focus on these themes: 1) Don't change your Facebook icon to the French flag because the French state is evil and has been doing evil things since the late 1700s. 2) Why are you so upset about what ISIS did? It's really all the fault of the US/UK/France because of Iran 1953/Iraq War/current attacks on ISIS in Syria or Iraq. 3) You weep for the dead of France but what about the dead of Beirut or Baghdad?

My answers:

1) France, like all nation states, has committed evil acts, both in the past and currently. However, when France joined the fight against ISIS, they did something good. ISIS is the enemy of all humanity.

2) The citizens of France and tourists visiting France do not deserve to die a horrible death because of the policies, good or bad, of the French state.

ISIS is guilty of their deaths, not anyone else. The members of ISIS chose to join a terrorist group, knowing that it engaged in terrible atrocities. They chose the path of evil.

People in Iraq who suffered from the American attack on Iraq have not, for the most part, become terrorists. It is not inevitable that those who are victims of a war will then choose to become terrorists and attack civilians.

Most of the victims of ISIS and Al Qaeda have been Muslims, both Sunni and Shi'ite. Both groups, especially ISIS, have a special hatred for Shi'ite Muslims. How is that the fault of the US, France, or the UK?

3) The articles that I have seen somehow avoid mentioning the other victims of ISIS - Yezidis and various Christian communities in Iraq, some of which have been there for 1800 years and are in the process of being driven out.

These articles also avoid mentioning the many dead of Syria, murdered by Assad - most of those murdered in Syria were killed by the Syrian regime, not ISIS.

They also assume that those of us who are upset about the murders in France don't care about the deaths of innocent people in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, or Palestine. Perhaps that is true of some people, but it's not true of me.

4) If we pay attention, many of these recent attacks are connected.

A) The bombings in Beirut on Thursday took place in the southern part of the city, which is controlled by Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian regime. These two attacks murdered 43 people. According to Reuters, "The blasts occurred almost simultaneously late on Thursday and struck a Shi'ite community center and a nearby bakery in the commercial and residential area of Borj al-Barajneh, security sources said."

 Also according to Reuters, the bombing was committed by ISIS.
Islamic State said in a statement posted online by its supporters that its members blew up a bike loaded with explosives in Borj al-Barajneh and that when onlookers gathered, a suicide bomber blew himself up among them. The group said the attacks killed 40 people.
B) Two bombings yesterday in Baghdad were also been claimed by ISIS. The first attack, which killed 21 people, targeted a memorial service for a Shi'ite fighter who died fighting ISIS. The second attack, which killed five people, was at a Shi'ite shrine in Sadr City. This article is from ABC News.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a suicide blast and a roadside bombing that targeted Shiites in Baghdad on Friday, killing a total of 26 people and wounding dozens. 
The attacks came as Iraqi Kurdish militias, backed by U.S. airstrikes, seized the town of Sinjar from the Islamic State group in a major blow to the extremists. Following its blitz last year, the IS — which splintered off from Iraq's al-Qaida branch — now holds about a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-declared caliphate. 
The suicide bomber struck a memorial service held for a Shiite militia fighter killed in battle against IS in the Iraqi capital's southwestern suburb of Hay al-Amal, a police official told The Associated Press. That explosion killed 21 people and wounded at least 46, he said. 
The militia fighter was killed in battle against the militant group in Iraq's western Anbar province, the official added. 
Also Friday in Baghdad, a roadside bomb detonated at a Shiite shrine in Sadr City, killing at least five people and wounding 15, police officials said. Hospital officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to reporters. 
Since the emergence of IS extremists, Baghdad has seen near-daily attacks, with roadside bombs, suicide blasts and assassinations targeting Iraqi forces and government officials, with significant casualties among the civilian population. 
The violence has killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands of Iraqis. 
Shiite militia fighters answered a call to arms last year after the country's highest Shiite religious authority, Ayatollah Ali al-Sisani, called on Iraqi men to defend the country. The militias, which later formed an umbrella paramilitary force called the Popular Mobilization Forces, have been an integral part in the battle against the Islamic State group, supporting Iraqi forces in battles in Salahuddin, Anbar and Baghdad provinces. 
In a statement distributed on pro-IS Twitter accounts, the Sunni militant group said the aim of Friday's attacks was "revenge for our monotheist brothers in al-Fallujah, al-Anbar, and Salahaldin," referring to ongoing Iraqi military operations to retrieve land lost to the IS in those locations.
C) The Russian plane that took off from Sharm al-Sheikh was probably destroyed by a bomb placed on the plane by someone from ISIS.

D) The attacks last night were done by ISIS fighters.