Archive for the ‘Jonathan Pollard’ Category

If I forget thee, O Jonathan – Arutz Sheva

I doubt whether there was anyone on Seder night who said Next Year in Jerusalem with more conviction than Jonathan Pollard, who is still imprisoned in the United States.

True, he is no longer behind bars. However, he understands that a Jew is not considered free as long as he does not live in his own country, as the Passover Haggada teaches us: “This year we are here; next year in the land of Israel. This year we are slaves; next year we will be free people.”

Our sages have instructed that before weekday Grace After Meals, we should read Psalm 137 in order to remember that our eternal place is in the Land of Israel and not in a foreign land: “How shall we sing the Song of G-d on gentile land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten. Let my tongue fuse unto my palate if I fail to mention you, if I fail to raise Jerusalem to the greatest of my joys” (137:4-6).

We raise Jerusalem on a regular basis to our loftiest joy; Loftier than New York, loftier than Florida, loftier than the “good life” in foreign countries. This is exactly what Jonathan Pollard did when he risked his personal freedom in order to help the State of Israel. He knew that if caught in the course of his espionage, he would be sentenced to many years behind bars. Nevertheless, he did not put his personal life as his loftiest joy; He remembered that the Jew’s greatest joy is in the Peace of Jerusalem.

While the echoes of the Feast of Freedom still fill us, the least we can do is remember Jonathan, just as we remember Jerusalem. Each of us can write a short letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and remind him that Jonathan wants to get home. We can send e-mails to US President Trump and ask him to send Jonathan home.

Such messages to Ivanka and her husband can also speed the day of Jonathan’s release. You can also tweet her on Twitter or send her a message via Facebook. I am sure that she and her husband will put aside all fear of signalling dual-loyalty in order to help the hero who risked so much that other Jews may live in security and freedom.

Even though Jonathan is no longer behind bars, he knows that he is still in prison and wants to live as a free man. He sees the invisible bars of his American prison. He knows that George Washington is not the father of his nation; He knows that the city of Washington D.C. is not the capital of his people; He knows that the Stars and Stripes is not his national flag, and he knows that the “Star Spangled Banner” is not his national anthem. His flag is the Star of David, and his national anthem is Hatikvah. Today Jonathan Pollard is under house arrest in New York. With G-d’s help, we can help liberate him completely.

Zvi Fishman is an Israeli writer and author. Married with seven children, he lives in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem.

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If I forget thee, O Jonathan – Arutz Sheva

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April 25, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Why Not a Probe of Israel-Gate? Israeli Meddling – Center for Research on Globalization

The other day, I asked a longtime Democratic Party insider who is working on the Russia-gate investigation which country interfered more in U.S. politics, Russia or Israel. Without a moments hesitation, he replied, Israel, of course.

Which underscores my concern about the hysteria raging across Official Washington about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign: There is no proportionality applied to the question of foreign interference in U.S. politics. If there were, we would have a far more substantive investigation of Israel-gate.

The problem is that if anyone mentions the truth about Israels clout, the person is immediately smeared as anti-Semitic and targeted by Israels extraordinarily sophisticated lobby and its many media/political allies for vilification and marginalization.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

So, the open secret of Israeli influence is studiously ignored, even as presidential candidates prostrate themselves before the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both appearedbefore AIPAC in 2016, with Clinton promising to take the U.S.-Israeli relationship to the next level whatever that meant and Trump vowing not to pander and then pandering like crazy.

Congress is no different. It has given Israels controversial Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a record-tying three invitations to address joint sessions of Congress (matching the number of times British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared). We then witnessed the Republicans and Democrats competing to see how often their members could bounce up and down and who could cheer Netanyahu the loudest, even when the Israeli prime minister was instructing the Congress to follow his position on Iran rather than President Obamas.

Israeli officials and AIPAC also coordinate their strategies to maximize political influence, which is derived in large part by who gets the lobbys largesse and who doesnt. On the rare occasion when members of Congress step out of line and take a stand that offends Israeli leaders they can expect a well-funded opponent in their next race, a tactic that dates back decades.

Well-respected members, such as Rep. Paul Findley and Sen. Charles Percy (both Republicans from Illinois), were early victims of the Israeli lobbys wrath when they opened channels of communication with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the cause of seeking peace. Findley was targeted and defeated in 1982; Percy in 1984.

Findley recounted his experience in a 1985 book, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israels Lobby, in which Findley called the lobby the 700-pound gorilla in Washington. The book was harshly criticized in a New York Times review by Adam Clymer, who called it an angry, one-sided book that seems often to be little more than a stringing together of stray incidents.

Enforced Silence

Since then, there have been fewer and fewer members of Congress or other American politicians who have dared to speak out, judging that when it comes to the Israeli lobby discretion is the better part of valor. Today, many U.S. pols grovel before the Israeli government seeking a sign of favor from Prime Minister Netanyahu, almost like Medieval kings courting the blessings of the Pope at the Vatican.

During the 2008 campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama, whom Netanyahu viewed with suspicion, traveled to Israel to demonstrate sympathy for Israelis within rocket-range of Gaza while steering clear of showing much empathy for the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2014.

In 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney tried to exploit the tense Obama-Netanyahu relationship by stopping in Israel to win a tacit endorsement from Netanyahu. The 2016 campaign was no exception with both Clinton and Trump stressing their love of Israel in their appearances before AIPAC.

Money, of course, has become the lifeblood of American politics and American supporters of Israel have been particularly strategic in how they have exploited that reality.

One of Israels most devoted advocates, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, has poured millions of dollars in dark money into political candidates and groups that support Israels interests. Adelson, who has advocated dropping a nuclear bomb inside Iran to coerce its government, is a Trump favorite having donated a record $5 million to Trumps inaugural celebration.

Of course, many Israel-connected political donations are much smaller but no less influential. A quarter century ago, I was told how an aide to a Democratic foreign policy chairman, who faced a surprisingly tough race after redistricting, turned to the head of AIPAC for help and, almost overnight, donations were pouring in from all over the country. The chairman was most thankful.

The October Surprise Mystery

Israels involvement in U.S. politics also can be covert. For instance, the evidence is now overwhelming that the Israeli government of right-wing Prime Minister Menachem Begin played a key role in helping Ronald Reagans campaign in 1980 strike a deal with Iran to frustrate President Jimmy Carters efforts to free 52 American hostages before Election Day.

Begin despised Carter for the Camp David Accords that forced Israel to give back the Sinai to Egypt. Begin also believed that Carter was too sympathetic to the Palestinians and if he won a second term would conspire with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to impose a two-state solution on Israel.

President Jimmy Carter signing the Camp David peace agreement with Egypts Anwar Sadat and Israels Menachem Begin.

Begins contempt for Carter was not even a secret. In a 1991 book, The Last Option, senior Israeli intelligence and foreign policy official David Kimche explained Begins motive for dreading Carters reelection. Kimche said Israeli officials had gotten wind of collusion between Carter and Sadat to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Kimche continued,

This plan prepared behind Israels back and without her knowledge must rank as a unique attempt in United Statess diplomatic history of short-changing a friend and ally by deceit and manipulation.

But Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote,

he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.

In a 1992 memoir, Profits of War, former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe also noted that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt.

Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David, Ben-Menashe wrote. As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israels back.

So, in order to buy time for Israel to change the facts on the ground by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carters reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.

Ben-Menashe was among a couple of dozen government officials and intelligence operatives who described how Reagans campaign, mostly through future CIA Director William Casey and past CIA Director George H.W. Bush, struck a deal in 1980 with senior Iranians who got promises of arms via Israel in exchange for keeping the hostages through the election and thus humiliating Carter. (The hostages were finally released on Jan. 20, 1981, after Reagan was sworn in as President.)

Discrediting History

Though the evidence of the so-called October Surprise deal is far stronger than the current case for believing that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign, Official Washington and the mainstream U.S. media have refused to accept it, deeming it a conspiracy theory.

President Ronald Reagan, delivering his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 1981, as the 52 U.S. hostages in Iran are simultaneously released.

One of the reasons for the hostility directed against the 1980 case was the link to Israel, which did not want its hand in manipulating the election of a U.S. president to become an accepted part of American history. So, for instance, the Israeli government went to great lengths to discredit Ben-Menashe after he began to speak with reporters and to give testimony to the U.S. Congress.

When I was a Newsweek correspondent and first interviewed Ben-Menashe in 1990, the Israeli government initially insisted that he was an impostor, that he had no connection to Israeli intelligence.

However, when I obtained documentary evidence of Ben-Menashes work for a military intelligence unit, the Israelis admitted that they had lied but then insisted that he was just a low-level translator, a claim that was further contradicted by other documents showing that he had traveled widely around the world on missions to obtain weapons for the Israel-to-Iran arms pipeline.

Nevertheless, the Israeli government along with sympathetic American reporters and members of the U.S. Congress managed to shut down any serious investigation into the 1980 operation, which was, in effect, the prequel to Reagans Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal of 1984-86. Thus, U.S. history was miswritten. [For more details, see Robert ParrysAmericas Stolen Narrative;Secrecy & Privilege; and Trick or Treason.]

Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in the photo from his U.S. Naval Intelligence ID.

Looking back over the history of U.S.-Israeli relations, it is clear that Israel exercised significant influence over U.S. presidents since its founding in 1948, but the rise of Israels right-wing Likud Party in the 1970s led by former Jewish terrorists Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir marked a time when Israel shed any inhibitions about interfering directly in U.S. politics.

Much as Begin and Shamir engaged in terror attacks on British officials and Palestinian civilians during Israels founding era, the Likudniks who held power in 1980 believed that the Zionist cause trumped normal restraints on their actions. In other words, the ends justified the means.

In the 1980s, Israel also mounted spying operations aimed at the U.S. government, including those of intelligence analystJonathan Pollard, who fed highly sensitive documents to Israel and after being caught and spending almost three decades in prison was paroled and welcomed as a hero inside Israel.

A History of Interference

But it is true that foreign interference in U.S. politics is as old as the American Republic. In the 1790s, French agents working with the Jeffersonians tried to rally Americans behind Frances cause in its conflict with Great Britain. In part to frustrate the French operation, the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts.

In the Twentieth Century, Great Britain undertook covert influence operations to ensure U.S. support in its conflicts with Germany, while German agents unsuccessfully sought the opposite.

So, the attempts by erstwhile allies and sometimes adversaries to move U.S. foreign policy in one direction or another is nothing new, and the U.S. government engages in similar operations in countries all over the world, both overtly and covertly.

Wanted Poster of the Palestine Police Force offering rewards for the capture of Stern Gang terrorists: 1. Jaacov Levstein (Eliav), 2. Yitzhak Yezernitzky (Shamir), 3. Natan Friedman-Yelin

It was the CIAs job for decades to use propaganda and dirty tricks to ensure that pro-U.S. politicians were elected or put in power in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, pretty much everywhere the U.S. government perceived some interest. After the U.S. intelligence scandals of the 1970s, however, some of that responsibility was passed to other organizations, such as the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

NED, USAID and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) finance activists, journalists and other operatives to undermine political leaders who are deemed to be obstacles to U.S. foreign policy desires.

In particular, NED has been at the center of efforts to flip elections to U.S.-backed candidates, such as in Nicaragua in 1990, or to sponsor color revolutions, which typically organize around some color as the symbol for mass demonstrations. Ukraine on Russias border has been the target of two such operations, the Orange Revolution in 2004, which helped install anti-Russian President Viktor Yushchenko, and the Maidan ouster of elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

NED president Carl Gershman, a neoconservative who has run NED since its founding in 1983, openly declared thatUkraine was the biggest prize in September 2013 just months before the Maidan protests as well as calling it an important step toward ousting Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Gershman called directly for regime change in Russia.

The Neoconservatives

Another key issue related to Israeli influence inside the United States is the role of the neocons, a political movement that emerged in the 1970s as a number of hawkish Democrats migrated to the Republican Party as a home for more aggressive policies to protect Israel and take on the Soviet Union and Arab states.

In some European circles, the neocons are described as Israels American agents, which may somewhat overstate the direct linkage between Israel and the neocons although a central tenet of neocon thinking is that there must be no daylight between the U.S. and Israel. The neocons say U.S. politicians must stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel even if that means the Americans sidling up to the Israelis rather than any movement the other way.

Prominent neocon intellectual Robert Kagan. (Photo credit: Mariusz Kubik, http://www.mariuszkubik.pl)

Since the mid-1990s, American neocons have worked closely with Benjamin Netanyahu. Several prominent neocons (including former Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Meyrav Wurmser and Robert Loewenberg) advised Netanyahus 1996 campaign and urged a new strategy for securing the realm. Essentially, the idea was to replace negotiations with the Palestinians and Arab states with regime change for governments that were viewed as troublesome to Israel, including Iraq and Syria.

By 1998, the Project for the New American Century (led by neocons William Kristol and Robert Kagan) was pressuring President Bill Clinton to invade Iraq, a plan that was finally put in motion in 2003 under President George W. Bush.

But the follow-on plans to go after Syria and Iran were delayed because the Iraq War turned into a bloody mess, killing some 4,500 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Bush could not turn to phase two until near the end of his presidency and then was frustrated by a U.S. intelligence estimate concluding that Iran was not working on a nuclear bomb (which was to be the pretext for a bombing campaign).

Bush also could pursue regime change in Syria only as a proxy effort of subversion, rather than a full-scale U.S. invasion. President Barack Obama escalated the Syrian proxy war in 2011 with the support of Israel and its strange-bedfellow allies in Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni-ruled Gulf States, which hated Syrias government because it was allied with Shiite-ruled Iran and Sunnis and Shiites have been enemies since the Seventh Century. Israel insists that the U.S. take the Sunni side, even if that puts the U.S. in bed with Al Qaeda.

But Obama dragged his heels on a larger U.S. military intervention in Syria and angered Netanyahu further by negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program rather than bomb-bomb-bombing Iran.

Showing the Love

Obamas perceived half-hearted commitment to Israeli interests explained Romneys campaign 2012 trip to seek Netanyahus blessings. Even after winning a second term, Obama sought to appease Netanyahu by undertaking a three-day trip to Israel in 2013 to show his love.

Still, in 2015, when Obama pressed ahead with the Iran nuclear agreement, Netanyahu went over the Presidents head directly to Congress where he was warmly received, although the Israeli prime minister ultimately failed to sink the Iran deal.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Campaign 2016, both Clinton and Trump wore their love for Israel on their sleeves, Clinton promising to take the relationship to the next level (a phrase that young couples often use when deciding to go from heavy petting to intercourse). Trump reminded AIPAC that he had a Jewish grandchild and vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Both also bristled with hatred toward Iran, repeating the popular falsehood that Iran is the principal source of terrorism when it is Saudi Arabia and other Sunni sheikdoms that have been the financial and military supporters of Al Qaeda and Islamic State, the terror groups most threatening to Europe and the United States.

By contrast to Israels long history of playing games with U.S. politics, the Russian government stands accused of trying to undermine the U.S. political process recently by hacking into emails of the Democratic National Committee revealing the DNCs improper opposition to Sen. Bernie Sanderss campaign and of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta disclosing the contents of Clintons paid speeches to Wall Street and pay-to-play aspects of the Clinton Foundation and sharing that information with the American people via WikiLeaks.

Although WikiLeaks denies getting the two batches of emails from the Russians, the U.S. intelligence community says it has high confidence in its conclusions about Russian meddling and the mainstream U.S. media treats the allegations as flat-fact.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making opening remarks at a joint White House press conference with President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, 2017. (Screenshot from White House video)

The U.S. intelligence community also has accused the Russian government of raising doubts in the minds of Americans about their political system by having RT, the Russian-sponsored news network, hold debates for third-party candidates (who were excluded from the two-party Republican-Democratic debates) and by having RT report on protests such as Occupy Wall Street and issues such as fracking.

The major U.S. news media and Congress seem to agree that the only remaining question is whether evidence can be adduced showing that the Trump campaign colluded in this Russian operation. For that purpose, a number of people associated with the Trump campaign are to be hauled before Congress and made to testify on whether or not they are Russian agents.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other establishment-approved outlets are working with major technology companies on how to marginalize independent news sources and to purge Russian propaganda (often conflated with fake news) from the Internet.

It seems that no extreme is too extreme to protect the American people from the insidious Russians and their Russia-gate schemes to sow doubt about the U.S. political process. But God forbid if anyone were to suggest an investigation of Israel-gate.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, Americas Stolen Narrative, either inprint hereor as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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April 25, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Codisto Launches Amazon Integration For Magento, WooCommerce – PYMNTS.com

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Codisto, a marketplace integration software company and Magento Imagine sponsor, has launched its Amazon integration for Magento and WooCommerce, which will accompany its current eBay integration.

According to a press release, now more than 1 million merchants can benefit from the full, real-time synchronization of products, inventory and orders between Amazon, eBay and merchant websites. This can significantly boost sales while still allowing merchants to keep their existing business processes intact.

Codistos MarketPlace Connect plugin offers merchants the easiest and fastest way to access the millions of customers regularly buying from Amazons global marketplace, said Jonathan Pollard, CEO of Codisto. Its a very deep, quality plugin offering full SaaS integration with real-time performance thats very fast to set up and simple to use. We have enjoyed fantastic success since we launched our eBay integration in 2015. Adding Amazon integration was a natural extension for Codisto, and we expect to quickly see merchants from all over the world take advantage of the solution.

While many integration services require merchants to use additional ecommerce platforms to manage marketplaces, that isnt the case with Codistos Amazon integration. Through native integration, merchants get the benefit of a real-time SaaS marketplace integration service combined with the efficiency of maintaining their existing platform and business processes.

The concept of multichannel integration is not new, Pollard said, but native integration is technically very challenging which is why there are so few native solutions. Codisto has taken a deep and narrow approach to developing its solutions, limiting the platforms and marketplaces we provide integration for. This has allowed us to set a new global standard for marketplace integration. Merchants no longer have to suffer unwanted third-party marketplaces platforms or suboptimal native integration solutions.

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Codisto Launches Amazon Integration For Magento, WooCommerce – PYMNTS.com

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April 4, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Expert: ‘Ghattas deal sends the wrong message’ – Israel National News – Arutz Sheva

Attorney Ornat Cameron, an expert on criminal law, on Monday sharply criticized the plea bargain signed with MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List), according to which he will serve just two years in prison for smuggling cell phones to terrorists.

Ghattas on Sunday morning submitted his resignation letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein as part of the plea bargain.

Speaking with Arutz Sheva, Cameron said that, with the plea bargain, the State Prosecutor’s Office sent a “forgiving message to the enemies of the state.”

“The priorities of the State Prosecutor’s Office and its leaders are missing. Where has the fighting spirit of the State Attorney’s Office gone? When we examine the case of former MK Ghattas in terms of evidence, its a done deal. All the evidence is there. We all saw former MK Ghattas smuggle cellular phones and SIM cards into a prison and transfer them to the enemies of the state, while taking advantage of his status [as a Knesset member], she said.

Cameron opined that citizens of the state of Israel should be concerned about the plea bargain.

“I wonder, for example, why the United States has different priorities [on such matters]. I look at the example of Jonathan Pollard. How is it that Jonathan Pollard languished in prison for 30 years for crimes that are no less serious than those attributed to MK Ghattas, and even though the court recognized that it was espionage between two friendly countries, Pollard still sat in prison for many years? she said.

Cameron said she believes there is no room for a plea bargain in such a case.

“In cases such as these, when you are dealing with security-related offenses, I think there comes a point where the State Prosecutor’s Office has to draw some kind of line. When it comes to someone who acts to harm the state, we should not lend a hand to plea bargains, especially in a case where there were no evidentiary problems. It does not give a feeling of security to the citizens of Israel when the state signs a funny plea bargain with an enemy of Israel, and therefore we as citizens should be a little more concerned, she concluded.

Ghattas signed a plea bargain which requests the court to reduce his prison sentence to two years, and place him on probation for an as yet undetermined period of time. The plea bargain also required Ghattas to submit his resignation immediately, which he did on Sunday morning.

Several MKs criticized Ghattas’ sentence as being too light, since Ghattas was involved in terrorist activities.

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Expert: ‘Ghattas deal sends the wrong message’ – Israel National News – Arutz Sheva

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March 22, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

International diplomacy requires delicate balance – Times Daily

Among his supporters, President Donald Trump has a reputation as a straight talker. This is despite the presidents refusal to be upfront about his finances, and the frequent accusations he puts forth, some based upon questionable evidence.

There is one area where Trump does merit the title straight talker, and that is international relations. Unfortunately, this is also the one area where a bit more discretion is warranted.

During German Chancellor Angela Merkels visit last week, the president joked that the two had something in common: They both were spied on by President Barack Obamas administration. It was a reference to Trumps unsubstantiated claim that the Obama administration spied on him, as well as to older, more credible allegations about the National Security Agency spying on Merkel. For her part, Merkel did not seem amused.

Even before he took the oath of office, Trump ruffled feathers overseas when he personally took a phone call from Taiwans President Tsai Ing-wen. It was the first direct communication between leaders of the two countries since 1979, and a breach of longstanding protocol in U.S.-China relations. China is a major power, and its leaders take that seriously, which is why they insist on a One China policy that treats Taiwan as merely an unruly province.

Diplomacy is vitally important. Nations engage in it to resolve conflicts peacefully. A lot of diplomacy is built upon polite fictions.

One of those fictions is that Taiwan is not, for all practical purposes, a sovereign state within the American sphere of influence in Asia and protected by a mutual defense pact with the U.S. The defense pact is also a polite fiction. It says mutual, but no one expects Taiwan to come running to help defend the U.S.

Other polite fictions of U.S. diplomacy include not talking about Turkeys genocide of the Armenians, because Turkey is a NATO ally and the Turks are touchy about the subject. The U.S. also doesnt talk about Israels nuclear arsenal, although we know they have one and so does everyone else.

Another polite fiction is that allies do not spy on one another, but this happens, too. We know from Edward Snowdens revelations that even allies spy on each other. Then theres Jonathan Pollard, who spent nearly 30 years of a life sentence in prison for sharing U.S. intelligence with Israel. But no one in power admits such spying goes on, hardly anyone talks about it, and spies who get caught usually cause more embarrassment than theyre worth.

Into this environment steps President Trump. For him, the polite fictions that make international relations work smoothly are just another species of fake news. He has no time for playing such games. Its no wonder other world leaders dont know quite how to react to Trump in the White House.

What nations say to each other behind closed doors is one thing; what they say in front of cameras at joint press conferences is another. That is how diplomacy works.

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March 22, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Washington Watch: Art of the peace deal – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Activists, including Israelis and Palestinians, take part in a demonstration in support of peace near Jericho. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Right celebrated US President Donald Trumps election as a green light on settlement building and a red light on peace processing that seemed confirmed by the appointment of a new American ambassador who made Netanyahu look like a peacenik.

The awakening began a few days before what was to be Netanyahus triumphal visit to an Obama-free White House, where hed be warmly embraced. He got the physical embrace and even a shout-out to his wife, but the news must have been chilling to a prime minister who sometimes says hes for a two-state solution but who has done nothing to prove it.

The master negotiator told his Israeli friend he really was serious about making the ultimate deal, and publicly urged him to hold back on settlements a little bit.

The prime minister was in big trouble back home and desperate for something to take back to divert attention from the criminal investigations against him, but he left largely empty handed. There was no renewal of the 2004 George W. Bush letter sanctioning construction in the major settlement blocs, no relocation of the embassy, no Jonathan Pollard to take back, no shelving the peace processing and no approval of his request to bless Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights.

At their joint news conference, Trump said he had no preference between the one-state or two-state approach. But within 24 hours, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley declared the United States absolutely backs the two-state solution.

Last Friday Trump phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to invite him to the White House to talk about peacemaking.

Abbas said Trump called him his partner left the Palestinian leader convinced the US still backed Palestinian statehood anathema to Netanyahu and his ever-further- right backers.

One of Trumps special envoys, his chief real estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt, is in Israel this week to begin groundwork for resuscitating the peace talks, while Trump met at the White House with a top Saudi prince to discuss on related topics. Their agenda is believed to include the Arab Peace Initiative as a framework for peace talks. Israel initially rejected it totally; now it is willing to discuss parts of it.

Candidate Trump staked out a hardline position on Israeli-Palestinian issues, but since the election hes been moving leftward, which makes Netanyahu and the Israeli Right very nervous.

Every president comes in thinking hes the one who can untie this Gordian knot.

That apparently goes double for the man who wrote The Art of the Deal, and what he lacks in knowledge of the conflict, experience and understanding he more than makes up for in ego and self-confidence.

Lets get to the bottom line: Trump, whatever his skills, will not make the deal. Thats not really his fault. No peace is possible so long as Netanyahu and Abbas are in power.

Over the past eight years their dislike and distrust for each other has only grown, they are politically weak, not really interested and strangled by their own inertia; the situation has deteriorated to the point where their hold on power is tenuous. So why bother? On one thing both are right: neither really has a partner for peace.

Abbass hope is all will collapse and everyone else will force Israel to bend to his terms.

Netanyahus prayer is that Trump will be like his predecessors: give it a try and give up.

The Israeli premier knows that Trump has a notoriously short attention span and no appetite for details. But the newly minted president also hates to lose and can be vindictive toward those he feels thwarted him.

What is Trump really looking for? Does he want to bring peace between these old enemies or is it all about the art of the deal? This is not a real-estate negotiation where differences can be measured in dollars or square footage and split down the middle.

The late Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal once admonished a top State Department official that making peace in the Middle East is not like a contract negotiation. For you its one from column A in exchange for one from column B, but for the Israelis its a matter of life and death, he explained.

He felt the diplomats were indifferent to the human element. I once worked for an organization with a number of wealthy real-estate developers on the board, and one of their colleagues a surgeon used to say that for them the deal was everything, not substance of the project.

He loves deals, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. President Trump is a people person. Hes a dealmaker. Hes a negotiator. Hes a businessman. He understands how to sit in a room and get a deal, and he enjoys it.

That is too simplistic an approach for this historic conflict. It may be in part about territory, but it is no real estate deal, involving as it does religion, centuries-old grievances and a deep connection to the land on both sides.

Veteran peace processors Dennis Ross and David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Peace have said that instead of swinging for the fence Trump ought to go for some solid singles.

For starters focus on preventing Israeli moves annexation of West Bank areas, expanding settlements that could permanently block statehood while improving the Palestinian economy and governing institutions and demanding an end to Palestinian incitement. It may be the easiest step for the Palestinians, but its one they resist, and has done the most to weaken the Israeli peace camp that they badly need.

Overreaching in pursuit of the ultimate deal and ultimate ego gratification for a president who seems stuck in early adolescence is certain to fail and likely to make a bad situation worse.

Trumps great challenge is to set realistic goals not the deal of the century but an incremental process out of the public spotlight where the two sides can have serious discussions, not make plays for the grandstands, which so far seems to be their specialties.

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Washington Watch: Art of the peace deal – Jerusalem Post Israel News

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March 17, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Jewish trivia quiz: Republican Jewish Coalition – San Diego Jewish World

Posted on 06 March 2017.

By Mark D. Zimmerman

Mark D. Zimmerman

MELVILLE, New York The Republican Jewish Coalition held their annual convention last week at the Venetian Resort Hotel in Las Vegas. Among the speakers was Elliot Lauer, RJC board member and lawyer for Jonathan Pollard. In a dvar Torah which he offered to the attendees, to what did Lauer compare Donald Trumps victory in the presidential election?

A. He compared it to the victory of the Maccabees against King Antiochus and the Syrians, as celebrated in the Chanukah story.

B. He compared it to the triumph of the Jews against King Ahashverus and the Persians as celebrated in the Purim story.

C. He compared it to the victory of the shepherd David who slew the giant Goliath, as told in the Book of Samuel.

D. He compared it to the victory of the Israelis against the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan during the Six Day War of 1967.

E. He compared it to the Best of the Beverages contest at the 2017 Americas Food and Beverage Show which had been held at the Venetian Resort Hotel the week before, in which Orange Julius was the unexpected victor. Link to answer:

http://rrrjewishtrivia.com/answers/rjc-answer.html

Zimmerman is the author of the Rashi, Rambam and Ramalamadingdong series of Jewish trivia e-books. Learn more athttp://www.rrrjewishtrivia.com.

Continued here:

Jewish trivia quiz: Republican Jewish Coalition – San Diego Jewish World

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March 7, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Jonathan J. Pollard – The New York Times

Latest Articles

The operation also targeted Egypt, Iran, Syria and Turkey, according to evidence attributed to leaks by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden.

The United States Parole Commission was ordered to provide a fuller explanation of its reasons for electronically tracking the movements of Mr. Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel during the Cold War.

By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.

To his supporters he is a hero, but he grievously violated the laws and the trust of his country and does not deserve special consideration.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli citizens applauded Friday’s release of Jonathan J. Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel in the 1980s.

By REUTERS

During his 30 years in prison, Mr. Pollard repeatedly returned to the spotlight as a point of contention in the United States relationship with Israel.

By MIKAYLA BOUCHARD

The American convicted of spying for Israel was released on parole on Friday, but the Obama administration had no plans to let him move to Israel.

By PETER BAKER and JODI RUDOREN

The American convicted of spying for Israel will be released on parole on Friday, but the Obama administration has no plans to let him move to Israel.

By PETER BAKER

Jonathan J. Pollard was released on Friday after receiving parole. He served 30 years of a life sentence for passing classified United States documents to Israel.

By PETER BAKER

Esther Pollard, the wife of Jonathan J. Pollard, an Israeli spy sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States, celebrated on Wednesday the decision to release him.

Reuters

Israel tragically underestimated American anger when it hired Jonathan Pollard as a spy; celebrating his release will only make things worse.

By RONEN BERGMAN

Mr. Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel, will be released in November after serving 30 years, a government panel decided on Tuesday.

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR

Attempts in Washington to highlight the likely parole of Jonathan J. Pollard in hopes of quieting a campaign against the Iran deal could provoke a backlash, analysts say.

By JODI RUDOREN

The White House says relations with Israel will not influence the November release of Mr. Pollard, an American who was convicted of spying for Israel.

Marwan Barghouti, a popular political figure and a convicted murderer serving multiple life sentences in Israel, could be an impetus to continue negotiations.

More and more Jews say the time to free Jonathan J. Pollard is long past, but they are unsure whether he should be used as a chit in a diplomatic transaction with Israel.

Jonathan J. Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel, is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally.

Natalia V. Osipova

Even as the Palestinian leadership took formal steps on Wednesday to gain the benefits of statehood outside the negotiation process, the parties appeared ready to seek a formula for continuing the negotiations.

The release of the convicted spy by the United States would do nothing to advance progress on the core issues of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

An effort by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to join 15 international agencies threatened to derail the fraught peace talks.

The operation also targeted Egypt, Iran, Syria and Turkey, according to evidence attributed to leaks by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden.

The United States Parole Commission was ordered to provide a fuller explanation of its reasons for electronically tracking the movements of Mr. Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel during the Cold War.

By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.

To his supporters he is a hero, but he grievously violated the laws and the trust of his country and does not deserve special consideration.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli citizens applauded Friday’s release of Jonathan J. Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel in the 1980s.

By REUTERS

During his 30 years in prison, Mr. Pollard repeatedly returned to the spotlight as a point of contention in the United States relationship with Israel.

By MIKAYLA BOUCHARD

The American convicted of spying for Israel was released on parole on Friday, but the Obama administration had no plans to let him move to Israel.

By PETER BAKER and JODI RUDOREN

The American convicted of spying for Israel will be released on parole on Friday, but the Obama administration has no plans to let him move to Israel.

By PETER BAKER

Jonathan J. Pollard was released on Friday after receiving parole. He served 30 years of a life sentence for passing classified United States documents to Israel.

By PETER BAKER

Esther Pollard, the wife of Jonathan J. Pollard, an Israeli spy sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States, celebrated on Wednesday the decision to release him.

Reuters

Israel tragically underestimated American anger when it hired Jonathan Pollard as a spy; celebrating his release will only make things worse.

By RONEN BERGMAN

Mr. Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel, will be released in November after serving 30 years, a government panel decided on Tuesday.

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR

Attempts in Washington to highlight the likely parole of Jonathan J. Pollard in hopes of quieting a campaign against the Iran deal could provoke a backlash, analysts say.

By JODI RUDOREN

The White House says relations with Israel will not influence the November release of Mr. Pollard, an American who was convicted of spying for Israel.

Marwan Barghouti, a popular political figure and a convicted murderer serving multiple life sentences in Israel, could be an impetus to continue negotiations.

More and more Jews say the time to free Jonathan J. Pollard is long past, but they are unsure whether he should be used as a chit in a diplomatic transaction with Israel.

Jonathan J. Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel, is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally.

Natalia V. Osipova

Even as the Palestinian leadership took formal steps on Wednesday to gain the benefits of statehood outside the negotiation process, the parties appeared ready to seek a formula for continuing the negotiations.

The release of the convicted spy by the United States would do nothing to advance progress on the core issues of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

An effort by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to join 15 international agencies threatened to derail the fraught peace talks.

The rest is here:

Jonathan J. Pollard – The New York Times

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March 6, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

My Take on the News – Yated.com

The Specter of the State Comptrollers Report

There is a political explosion in the offing here in Israel, and it has to do with the state comptrollers report on Operation Protective Edge. I promised in the past to explain why this report is so frightening to so many figures in the government, but first I must clarify what the state comptroller does.

The position of state comptroller is usually held by a retired judge, which has always created the impression that it is given as a gift to high-ranking officials in the twilight of their careers. The very first state comptroller was just such a person. The second person to hold the position, a religious man, was Dr. Yitzchok (better known as Ernst) Nebenzahl, the father of Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl, who is today the rov of the Old City and one of the most prominent talmidei chachomim in Yerushalayim. Rav Nebenzahl lives in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, at the end of the path leading down to the Kosel, in a building that was purchased and renovated by his father.

Dr. Nebenzahl, a man of great dignity and a Yekke by extraction, served in the position of state comptroller for twenty years, from 1961 until 1981. During his years in the position, he published an annual report on all the deficiencies that he identified in the ministries of the government. The ministries were supposed to correct the defects he discovered, although it is difficult to say whether anyone checked to see if the issues had been addressed. As a result, the comptrollers reports were not taken very seriously until recent times.

Several years ago, the rules of the game changed. The state comptroller began sending warnings to the ministries found to be lacking, even sometimes warning that his report might lead to a police investigation. In fact, in recent years, the comptroller has transferred certain cases to the attorney general and has demanded that a criminal investigation be opened. That is rather frightening to the ministers concerned. Several high-profile indictments in recent years have resulted from the comptrollers annual report. The individuals named in the report sometimes consult with top-notch attorneys before responding to the reports contents.

The state comptroller has the same standing as a government minister. His position comes with the same terms, and he is invited to the same official events as any other minister of the government. In years past, the comptroller was treated like an elderly relative who is humored but receives little attention, but that is no longer the case. The current comptroller is Dr. Yosef Shapira, who also served as a judge before he was appointed to the position. When Shapira was first appointed, there was much talk about his pleasant, kind demeanor. The longer he has occupied the post, though, the more it has become clear that regardless of how much he smiles, he can also bite.

Finding Fault with Ministers and the Army

This brings us to the report on Operation Protective Edge. While the report was being prepared, the comptroller announced that he would be investigating not only the government and the cabinet, including the prime minister, but also the army and its officers, including the chief of staff. That is why we have recently heard of many government ministers going to great lengths to explain that they warned the cabinet about potential dangers during the war. Some claim that even at the time of the operation itself, many ministers already feared the state comptrollers wrath and made statements that they felt would reflect positively on them later.

This time, the comptroller reviewed the conduct of additional arms of the security apparatus, including the head of the Mossad, in addition to the government and the army. The reason this is important is that it is a known fact that the government was not prepared for the threat of the tunnels in the south that the terrorists used to infiltrate the country. There were multiple warnings that the tunnels were being constructed, but the government and the army did nothing about it or, at least, they didnt do enough. The comptroller investigated whether those claims were true and who was at fault for what was done, as well as what was not done. Was the armys intelligence division aware of the threat from the tunnels being dug beneath our noses? And if they knew about the danger, did they warn the cabinet? And if they did, did the cabinet act in accordance with those warnings? If they werent warned, then was that itself an act of negligence on the armys part? These are all questions that are very uncomfortable for the parties concerned.

The comptroller began investigating this subject as early as February 2014, as a continuation of a report issued in 2007 by his predecessor, who found that the governments handling of the terror tunnels in the south was nothing short of a resounding failure. The comptrollers work was suspended when Operation Protective Edge began in July 2014, and it resumed when the operation ended. However, in the aftermath of the war, Dr. Shapira decided to expand his investigation beyond the government itself, to encompass the security apparatus as well. This was a precedent-setting move that will go down in history as his own innovation.

Shuls in Jeopardy

I may work in the Knesset, but I am also part of the Israeli public, and I am a strong believer in the right to know. I have a particular interest in parliamentary queries, and in the responses delivered by government ministers to those queries. Naftali Bennett, who holds the positions of both Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Minister of Education, was recently asked for an official response to a plea for help received from the Jewish communities of Morocco, where the shuls are in dire need of renovations. His answer lay somewhere in the range between astounding and appalling: The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs is not involved in the renovation of sacred sites in other parts of the world, and the ministry does not maintain any financial aid programs for this purpose.

To take this one step further, here is what he wrote: On October 6, 2015, the Knesset Research and Information Center published a document entitled, Preservation of Sites in Israel: Preservation of Synagogues. The document briefly discusses the preservation and restoration of synagogues in the Diaspora, and the research center concludes that there is no entity in Israel that is involved in the restoration of synagogues in the Diaspora. In general, that restoration is performed voluntarily, with funding from Jewish philanthropists or from the governments of the jurisdictions in which the synagogues are located. If a piece of paper could shed tears, this document itself would certainly weep.

But the surprises do not end there. The parliamentary query to which Bennett responded was submitted by none other than Zouheir Bahloul, an Arab member of the Knesset from the Zionist Camp party, who worked as a radio sports announcer before he was elected. I asked Bahloul why he was concerned about the fate of shuls in chutz laaretz, and he explained that he had been part of a parliamentary delegation that visited Morocco and met with the leaders of the Jewish community in Marrakesh. The Jews of Morocco had told the visitors from Israel that their shuls are in a state of disrepair, and although King Mohammed VI supports the Jewish community, the funds they receive are not sufficient for the upkeep and refurbishment that the shuls need. They asked the visiting Knesset members to convey their plea for help to the Israeli government.

The text of Bahlouls query was: Does the Israeli government provide financial support for Jewish sites throughout the world? Is the difficult plight of the synagogues in Morocco known to the ministry, and if so, is there a plan for any sort of support for the Moroccan community?

The response to Bahlouls questions, as you have already seen, was a resounding rejection.

Watching the Rabbonim

Zoheir Bahlouls query about the shuls in Morocco may have been a novelty in the Knesset, but there was nothing new or unusual about the parliamentary question submitted by Michal Rozin of the Meretz party. Meretz has a deep, abiding hatred for all things Jewish, and it should come as no surprise that Rozin asked the following: The law provides a mechanism for municipal rabbonim to face disciplinary hearings if a complaint is filed by the Minister of Justice. I would like to know how many disciplinary proceedings have taken place over the past five years and which rabbonim they involved.

The lady from Meretz went on to demand specific information: What was the nature of the complaints filed by the Minister of Justice against municipal rabbonim? Against which rabbonim were complaints filed by the Minister of Justice? How many of the disciplinary hearings ended in a conviction?

Some, however, may be surprised by the response of Ayelet Shaked, the Minister of Justice: In response to this question, I am pleased to report that since the year 2010 until today, there have been no complaints filed against municipal rabbonim. One of the reasons for this is that there are certain difficulties involved in using this disciplinary tool.

The Embassy Law

There has been an incredible amount of talk about the transfer of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim. It is as if people think that this will somehow lead to the geulah. Or as if it will increase our security here in Yerushalayim. Or as if and excuse me for saying this there will be some real benefit from it. But let us calm down. Let us not be carried away by the prevailing mood. The most amusing thing about this is that in the Senate in Washington, a law has already been passed requiring the embassy to be moved to Yerushalayim. You wont believe this, and perhaps you have forgotten by now, but it happened in the year 1995. To be more precise, it was on October 24, 1995, over twenty years ago.

True, it came after four previous failed attempts, but in the end, it actually happened. One of the senators who was among the bills most enthusiastic supporters was a relatively unknown politician at the time by the name of Joe Biden. Yes, Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States until just over a month ago. At that time, he sounded very different from the way he sounds today. His stance was very different from Barack Obamas. Here is what he said: The only way to bring about peace in the Middle East is for the Arabs to understand that there are no disagreements between Israel and the United States. No disagreements at all. Zero Over and over, empires have tried to attack the connection between the Jews and their capital city. They destroyed the Temple and displaced the Jews from Jerusalem; they limited the number of Jews who were allowed to live in the city, and in this century, they simply tried to destroy the Jews. But they have never been able to completely eliminate the Jewish presence in Jerusalem, or to sever the spiritual connection between the Jews and their capital city. Transferring the embassy to Jerusalem will send an appropriate message

Ted Kennedy and John Kerry also supported the law. Then-Senator Chuck Robb, a Democrat from Virginia, stressed that moving the embassy would not have any impact on the peace talks. Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, as well as Senator William Cohen, a Republican from Maine and later the Secretary of Defense, supported the law. Arlen Specter, a Jewish senator from Pennsylvania, also spoke in favor of the law and supported it. Naturally, it also had the support of other Jewish senators: Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, Carl Levin of Michigan, and, of course, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Frank Lautenberg, yet another Jewish senator from New Jersey (and a Democrat), was particularly effusive, declaring that Jerusalem will forever remain the undivided capital of Israel. Incidentally, Lautenberg held onto his seat in the Senate for a record number of years; he passed away three years ago at the age of 90. The bill was formulated and championed by three leading senators at the time: Robert Dole, a Republican from Kansas and later a presidential nominee, and two Democratic senators, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Patrick Moynihan of New York.

The law was passed on November 8, 1995, and stated that the embassy should move to Yerushalayim no later than May 31, 1999. It included a qualification that authorized the president to delay the transfer, if necessary for American security, by half a year. The president would remain authorized to continue delaying the transfer every half year, if he saw fit, and that is precisely what has happened. I believe that Obama signed another six-month delay just before he left the White House. Since the law was passed, every president and presidential candidate has announced his support for transferring the embassy to Yerushalayim. That sentiment was expressed by George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore, yet every president has repeatedly delayed the laws implementation.

As another aside, in June 1997, Congress with a majority of 406 in favor versus 17 against authorized an allocation of $100 million for the construction of the new embassy in Yerushalayim.

What Will We Gain if the Embassy Moves?

This brings us to Donald Trump. Do you remember the joint press conference he held with Netanyahu? One of the questions they were asked, of course, was whether Trump had changed his mind about moving the embassy to Yerushalayim. This question came from an Israeli journalist. Netanyahu and Trump took turns calling on reporters to ask questions, with Trump selecting American journalists while Netanyahu called on the Israeli reporters.

Trump answered the question exactly as he had been coached by his advisors, who calculate the impact of every word that the president will utter. His answer was that the United States is examining the matter closely and with great care. That is, they are weighing the potential benefits against the disadvantages to decide whether the move is worth the cost. Let us say that this move, which would essentially be for the purpose of making a statement, might lead to bloodshed in Yerushalayim, and it might even cause an explosion in the Middle East. Would it be worth the price? If even one person is murdered because the embassy is moved, would it be the right thing to do?

Now, some might say that if we think that way, we will never do anything at all. And it may be true that this calculation could deter us from much more than merely allowing the embassy to be moved. But we have to assess each potential action in its own right. If it is a step that is very important and can achieve something substantial, and certainly if it is meant to increase the security of the State of Israel, then perhaps we can disregard its negative potential. But if it will do nothing more than make a statement, then we should think twice about it. Or, as Trump would say, we should examine it closely and with great care.

One more point on this subject: In a conversation with Israeli journalists, high-ranking officials in the American government intimated that Trump has lost his enthusiasm for the move because senior Israeli officials are themselves not quite sanguine about it.

Allow me to guess what that means: The leaders of Israels various security services i.e., the head of the Mossad, the head of the Shin Bet, and possibly the head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence as well told the American government outright that transferring the embassy to Yerushalayim could lead to a full-scale conflagration. They probably warned Trump that the outcome might be similar to the intifada that broke out after Ariel Sharons ill-advised visit to Har Habayis.

Speaking of the Israeli influence on American policies, if Jonathan Pollard is not permitted to leave America and settle in Israel, I hope that it will not be due to Israeli intervention. I believe that there are still people in this country who fear what Pollard will say if he has the chance to open his mouth. And only they know what it is they have to fear.

A Circle is Closed

In conclusion, I would like to share with you a dialogue that took place between two people, a yungerman from Kiryat Sefer who volunteers for Lev LAchim and a chiloni man from the center of the country who is his weekly chavrusah. This week, the chiloni managed to surprise his religious study partner.

In general, the irreligious man told his chavrusah when they first met, when people approach me with tefillin and ask if I want to put them on, I tell them that I have already put on tefillin. It isnt that I have anything against them, but I also have no reason to be in favor of them. I am happy that they are content in life, but I am also content, even without tefillin.

True, the yungerman replied, but it doesnt befit a person like you to lie.

Its just a white lie, the other man said dismissively. It isnt a lie that causes any harm. Besides, its true that I already put on tefillin at my bar mitzvah!

Today, he wears tefillin every day, not to mention the tzitzis that sits beneath his expensive shirt. But he makes no effort to put his newfound religiosity on display. I am doing fine without a kippah and a beard, he asserts. Lets just say that I keep a large number of the 613 mitzvos, but without any fanfare.

It all began with a visit to the Kosel. While he was there, someone tapped him on the shoulder and initiated a conversation. One thing led to another, and he received a telephone call that resulted in a weekly learning session with a yungerman from Kiryat Sefer. Not just any avreich, but a dos-dos, he reflects, indicating that he considers his learning partner to be ultra-religious. I began learning with him out of curiosity about what he had to offer, and I continued it for the intellectual challenge. Today, I enjoy learning Talmudic sugyos. Two months ago, he asked the coordinator at Lev LAchim to increase his learning time to a two-hour session, twice a week. If its too hard for my avreich, he added, I am willing to go to his house. Never mind the fact that he lives in a spacious duplex in Shoham, while the yungerman resides in a tiny apartment in Kiryat Sefer.

This week, he asked his chavrusah to begin learning hilchos Shabbos with him, from any sefer of his choosing.

This gentleman is about forty years old, give or take, and a former member of one of Israels security agencies. Today, he runs a business that provides services to shield computers against digital threats. At any time, he may be found in Shoham or in a variety of locations abroad, from Sri Lanka to Ottawa, depending on a clients needs and the price he is willing to pay.

As they began learning hilchos Shabbos, he commented to his chavrusah that it marked a sort of closing of a circle. Twenty years ago, he related, I was an officer in an intelligence unit in the army, and a famous baal teshuvah came to deliver a speech. We werent all that eager to hear the speech, but since our superiors went into the lecture hall, we followed them. No one was forcing us, of course, but there was a sort of social pressure. It was also before Rosh Hashanah, so there might have been some Jewish instinct that drove us to listen as well. Someone in the audience asked a question: Why is it prohibited to turn on a light on Shabbos? After all, there is no effort or exertion involved. Does G-d really care if we press a button? The questioners intent, of course, was to mock his form of Judaism as something that remains stagnant and does not move forward with the times. Can you imagine what the armys computers would look like today if we didnt move along with the pace of the world? We live in a dynamic world, after all.

And what is the circle that is closing? the yungerman asked him.

Give me a moment, the other man replied. That baal teshuvah was Uri Zohar. When he heard the question, he was silent for a moment, and then he gave an answer that the person who had asked the question did not like. He explained that if you carry a heavy bench up five flights of stairs, you may be sweating profusely, but you will not violate the Shabbos. On the other hand, one tiny touch of a light switch can be an act of chillul Shabbos. The reason, he said, is that chillul Shabbos isnt measured by the exertion involved. It is based on the situation. If you turn on a light, you have changed something. And if you turn off a light, you have created a new situation. That is the prohibition. Uri Zohar received a round of applause for that answer, but the original questioner shook his head. He wasnt satisfied. Today, my work in computers has led me to appreciate just how much can change with the simple press of a button or switch.

But what did you mean about closing a circle? his chavrusah asked again.

Rabbi Uri Zohar is one of the leaders of Lev LAchim, isnt he? He is the one who founded the Kosel project, isnt he?

Yes.

And who do you think asked that question all those years ago? the computer specialist exclaimed triumphantly. It was the very man who is now sitting across the table from you and learning the laws of Shabbos!

More here:

My Take on the News – Yated.com

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March 3, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

If I forget thee, O Jonathan – Arutz Sheva

I doubt whether there was anyone on Seder night who said Next Year in Jerusalem with more conviction than Jonathan Pollard, who is still imprisoned in the United States. True, he is no longer behind bars. However, he understands that a Jew is not considered free as long as he does not live in his own country, as the Passover Haggada teaches us: “This year we are here; next year in the land of Israel. This year we are slaves; next year we will be free people.” Our sages have instructed that before weekday Grace After Meals, we should read Psalm 137 in order to remember that our eternal place is in the Land of Israel and not in a foreign land: “How shall we sing the Song of G-d on gentile land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten. Let my tongue fuse unto my palate if I fail to mention you, if I fail to raise Jerusalem to the greatest of my joys” (137:4-6). We raise Jerusalem on a regular basis to our loftiest joy; Loftier than New York, loftier than Florida, loftier than the “good life” in foreign countries. This is exactly what Jonathan Pollard did when he risked his personal freedom in order to help the State of Israel. He knew that if caught in the course of his espionage, he would be sentenced to many years behind bars. Nevertheless, he did not put his personal life as his loftiest joy; He remembered that the Jew’s greatest joy is in the Peace of Jerusalem. While the echoes of the Feast of Freedom still fill us, the least we can do is remember Jonathan, just as we remember Jerusalem. Each of us can write a short letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and remind him that Jonathan wants to get home. We can send e-mails to US President Trump and ask him to send Jonathan home. Such messages to Ivanka and her husband can also speed the day of Jonathan’s release. You can also tweet her on Twitter or send her a message via Facebook. I am sure that she and her husband will put aside all fear of signalling dual-loyalty in order to help the hero who risked so much that other Jews may live in security and freedom. Even though Jonathan is no longer behind bars, he knows that he is still in prison and wants to live as a free man. He sees the invisible bars of his American prison. He knows that George Washington is not the father of his nation; He knows that the city of Washington D.C. is not the capital of his people; He knows that the Stars and Stripes is not his national flag, and he knows that the “Star Spangled Banner” is not his national anthem. His flag is the Star of David, and his national anthem is Hatikvah. Today Jonathan Pollard is under house arrest in New York. With G-d’s help, we can help liberate him completely. Zvi Fishman is an Israeli writer and author. Married with seven children, he lives in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem.

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April 25, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Why Not a Probe of Israel-Gate? Israeli Meddling – Center for Research on Globalization

The other day, I asked a longtime Democratic Party insider who is working on the Russia-gate investigation which country interfered more in U.S. politics, Russia or Israel. Without a moments hesitation, he replied, Israel, of course. Which underscores my concern about the hysteria raging across Official Washington about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign: There is no proportionality applied to the question of foreign interference in U.S. politics. If there were, we would have a far more substantive investigation of Israel-gate. The problem is that if anyone mentions the truth about Israels clout, the person is immediately smeared as anti-Semitic and targeted by Israels extraordinarily sophisticated lobby and its many media/political allies for vilification and marginalization. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC) So, the open secret of Israeli influence is studiously ignored, even as presidential candidates prostrate themselves before the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both appearedbefore AIPAC in 2016, with Clinton promising to take the U.S.-Israeli relationship to the next level whatever that meant and Trump vowing not to pander and then pandering like crazy. Congress is no different. It has given Israels controversial Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a record-tying three invitations to address joint sessions of Congress (matching the number of times British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared). We then witnessed the Republicans and Democrats competing to see how often their members could bounce up and down and who could cheer Netanyahu the loudest, even when the Israeli prime minister was instructing the Congress to follow his position on Iran rather than President Obamas. Israeli officials and AIPAC also coordinate their strategies to maximize political influence, which is derived in large part by who gets the lobbys largesse and who doesnt. On the rare occasion when members of Congress step out of line and take a stand that offends Israeli leaders they can expect a well-funded opponent in their next race, a tactic that dates back decades. Well-respected members, such as Rep. Paul Findley and Sen. Charles Percy (both Republicans from Illinois), were early victims of the Israeli lobbys wrath when they opened channels of communication with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the cause of seeking peace. Findley was targeted and defeated in 1982; Percy in 1984. Findley recounted his experience in a 1985 book, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israels Lobby, in which Findley called the lobby the 700-pound gorilla in Washington. The book was harshly criticized in a New York Times review by Adam Clymer, who called it an angry, one-sided book that seems often to be little more than a stringing together of stray incidents. Enforced Silence Since then, there have been fewer and fewer members of Congress or other American politicians who have dared to speak out, judging that when it comes to the Israeli lobby discretion is the better part of valor. Today, many U.S. pols grovel before the Israeli government seeking a sign of favor from Prime Minister Netanyahu, almost like Medieval kings courting the blessings of the Pope at the Vatican. During the 2008 campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama, whom Netanyahu viewed with suspicion, traveled to Israel to demonstrate sympathy for Israelis within rocket-range of Gaza while steering clear of showing much empathy for the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2014. In 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney tried to exploit the tense Obama-Netanyahu relationship by stopping in Israel to win a tacit endorsement from Netanyahu. The 2016 campaign was no exception with both Clinton and Trump stressing their love of Israel in their appearances before AIPAC. Money, of course, has become the lifeblood of American politics and American supporters of Israel have been particularly strategic in how they have exploited that reality. One of Israels most devoted advocates, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, has poured millions of dollars in dark money into political candidates and groups that support Israels interests. Adelson, who has advocated dropping a nuclear bomb inside Iran to coerce its government, is a Trump favorite having donated a record $5 million to Trumps inaugural celebration. Of course, many Israel-connected political donations are much smaller but no less influential. A quarter century ago, I was told how an aide to a Democratic foreign policy chairman, who faced a surprisingly tough race after redistricting, turned to the head of AIPAC for help and, almost overnight, donations were pouring in from all over the country. The chairman was most thankful. The October Surprise Mystery Israels involvement in U.S. politics also can be covert. For instance, the evidence is now overwhelming that the Israeli government of right-wing Prime Minister Menachem Begin played a key role in helping Ronald Reagans campaign in 1980 strike a deal with Iran to frustrate President Jimmy Carters efforts to free 52 American hostages before Election Day. Begin despised Carter for the Camp David Accords that forced Israel to give back the Sinai to Egypt. Begin also believed that Carter was too sympathetic to the Palestinians and if he won a second term would conspire with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to impose a two-state solution on Israel. President Jimmy Carter signing the Camp David peace agreement with Egypts Anwar Sadat and Israels Menachem Begin. Begins contempt for Carter was not even a secret. In a 1991 book, The Last Option, senior Israeli intelligence and foreign policy official David Kimche explained Begins motive for dreading Carters reelection. Kimche said Israeli officials had gotten wind of collusion between Carter and Sadat to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Kimche continued, This plan prepared behind Israels back and without her knowledge must rank as a unique attempt in United Statess diplomatic history of short-changing a friend and ally by deceit and manipulation. But Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby. In a 1992 memoir, Profits of War, former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe also noted that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt. Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David, Ben-Menashe wrote. As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israels back. So, in order to buy time for Israel to change the facts on the ground by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carters reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon. Ben-Menashe was among a couple of dozen government officials and intelligence operatives who described how Reagans campaign, mostly through future CIA Director William Casey and past CIA Director George H.W. Bush, struck a deal in 1980 with senior Iranians who got promises of arms via Israel in exchange for keeping the hostages through the election and thus humiliating Carter. (The hostages were finally released on Jan. 20, 1981, after Reagan was sworn in as President.) Discrediting History Though the evidence of the so-called October Surprise deal is far stronger than the current case for believing that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign, Official Washington and the mainstream U.S. media have refused to accept it, deeming it a conspiracy theory. President Ronald Reagan, delivering his Inaugural Address on Jan. 20, 1981, as the 52 U.S. hostages in Iran are simultaneously released. One of the reasons for the hostility directed against the 1980 case was the link to Israel, which did not want its hand in manipulating the election of a U.S. president to become an accepted part of American history. So, for instance, the Israeli government went to great lengths to discredit Ben-Menashe after he began to speak with reporters and to give testimony to the U.S. Congress. When I was a Newsweek correspondent and first interviewed Ben-Menashe in 1990, the Israeli government initially insisted that he was an impostor, that he had no connection to Israeli intelligence. However, when I obtained documentary evidence of Ben-Menashes work for a military intelligence unit, the Israelis admitted that they had lied but then insisted that he was just a low-level translator, a claim that was further contradicted by other documents showing that he had traveled widely around the world on missions to obtain weapons for the Israel-to-Iran arms pipeline. Nevertheless, the Israeli government along with sympathetic American reporters and members of the U.S. Congress managed to shut down any serious investigation into the 1980 operation, which was, in effect, the prequel to Reagans Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal of 1984-86. Thus, U.S. history was miswritten. [For more details, see Robert ParrysAmericas Stolen Narrative;Secrecy & Privilege; and Trick or Treason.] Convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in the photo from his U.S. Naval Intelligence ID. Looking back over the history of U.S.-Israeli relations, it is clear that Israel exercised significant influence over U.S. presidents since its founding in 1948, but the rise of Israels right-wing Likud Party in the 1970s led by former Jewish terrorists Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir marked a time when Israel shed any inhibitions about interfering directly in U.S. politics. Much as Begin and Shamir engaged in terror attacks on British officials and Palestinian civilians during Israels founding era, the Likudniks who held power in 1980 believed that the Zionist cause trumped normal restraints on their actions. In other words, the ends justified the means. In the 1980s, Israel also mounted spying operations aimed at the U.S. government, including those of intelligence analystJonathan Pollard, who fed highly sensitive documents to Israel and after being caught and spending almost three decades in prison was paroled and welcomed as a hero inside Israel. A History of Interference But it is true that foreign interference in U.S. politics is as old as the American Republic. In the 1790s, French agents working with the Jeffersonians tried to rally Americans behind Frances cause in its conflict with Great Britain. In part to frustrate the French operation, the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts. In the Twentieth Century, Great Britain undertook covert influence operations to ensure U.S. support in its conflicts with Germany, while German agents unsuccessfully sought the opposite. So, the attempts by erstwhile allies and sometimes adversaries to move U.S. foreign policy in one direction or another is nothing new, and the U.S. government engages in similar operations in countries all over the world, both overtly and covertly. Wanted Poster of the Palestine Police Force offering rewards for the capture of Stern Gang terrorists: 1. Jaacov Levstein (Eliav), 2. Yitzhak Yezernitzky (Shamir), 3. Natan Friedman-Yelin It was the CIAs job for decades to use propaganda and dirty tricks to ensure that pro-U.S. politicians were elected or put in power in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, pretty much everywhere the U.S. government perceived some interest. After the U.S. intelligence scandals of the 1970s, however, some of that responsibility was passed to other organizations, such as the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). NED, USAID and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) finance activists, journalists and other operatives to undermine political leaders who are deemed to be obstacles to U.S. foreign policy desires. In particular, NED has been at the center of efforts to flip elections to U.S.-backed candidates, such as in Nicaragua in 1990, or to sponsor color revolutions, which typically organize around some color as the symbol for mass demonstrations. Ukraine on Russias border has been the target of two such operations, the Orange Revolution in 2004, which helped install anti-Russian President Viktor Yushchenko, and the Maidan ouster of elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. NED president Carl Gershman, a neoconservative who has run NED since its founding in 1983, openly declared thatUkraine was the biggest prize in September 2013 just months before the Maidan protests as well as calling it an important step toward ousting Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Gershman called directly for regime change in Russia. The Neoconservatives Another key issue related to Israeli influence inside the United States is the role of the neocons, a political movement that emerged in the 1970s as a number of hawkish Democrats migrated to the Republican Party as a home for more aggressive policies to protect Israel and take on the Soviet Union and Arab states. In some European circles, the neocons are described as Israels American agents, which may somewhat overstate the direct linkage between Israel and the neocons although a central tenet of neocon thinking is that there must be no daylight between the U.S. and Israel. The neocons say U.S. politicians must stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel even if that means the Americans sidling up to the Israelis rather than any movement the other way. Prominent neocon intellectual Robert Kagan. (Photo credit: Mariusz Kubik, http://www.mariuszkubik.pl) Since the mid-1990s, American neocons have worked closely with Benjamin Netanyahu. Several prominent neocons (including former Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Meyrav Wurmser and Robert Loewenberg) advised Netanyahus 1996 campaign and urged a new strategy for securing the realm. Essentially, the idea was to replace negotiations with the Palestinians and Arab states with regime change for governments that were viewed as troublesome to Israel, including Iraq and Syria. By 1998, the Project for the New American Century (led by neocons William Kristol and Robert Kagan) was pressuring President Bill Clinton to invade Iraq, a plan that was finally put in motion in 2003 under President George W. Bush. But the follow-on plans to go after Syria and Iran were delayed because the Iraq War turned into a bloody mess, killing some 4,500 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Bush could not turn to phase two until near the end of his presidency and then was frustrated by a U.S. intelligence estimate concluding that Iran was not working on a nuclear bomb (which was to be the pretext for a bombing campaign). Bush also could pursue regime change in Syria only as a proxy effort of subversion, rather than a full-scale U.S. invasion. President Barack Obama escalated the Syrian proxy war in 2011 with the support of Israel and its strange-bedfellow allies in Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni-ruled Gulf States, which hated Syrias government because it was allied with Shiite-ruled Iran and Sunnis and Shiites have been enemies since the Seventh Century. Israel insists that the U.S. take the Sunni side, even if that puts the U.S. in bed with Al Qaeda. But Obama dragged his heels on a larger U.S. military intervention in Syria and angered Netanyahu further by negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program rather than bomb-bomb-bombing Iran. Showing the Love Obamas perceived half-hearted commitment to Israeli interests explained Romneys campaign 2012 trip to seek Netanyahus blessings. Even after winning a second term, Obama sought to appease Netanyahu by undertaking a three-day trip to Israel in 2013 to show his love. Still, in 2015, when Obama pressed ahead with the Iran nuclear agreement, Netanyahu went over the Presidents head directly to Congress where he was warmly received, although the Israeli prime minister ultimately failed to sink the Iran deal. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In Campaign 2016, both Clinton and Trump wore their love for Israel on their sleeves, Clinton promising to take the relationship to the next level (a phrase that young couples often use when deciding to go from heavy petting to intercourse). Trump reminded AIPAC that he had a Jewish grandchild and vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Both also bristled with hatred toward Iran, repeating the popular falsehood that Iran is the principal source of terrorism when it is Saudi Arabia and other Sunni sheikdoms that have been the financial and military supporters of Al Qaeda and Islamic State, the terror groups most threatening to Europe and the United States. By contrast to Israels long history of playing games with U.S. politics, the Russian government stands accused of trying to undermine the U.S. political process recently by hacking into emails of the Democratic National Committee revealing the DNCs improper opposition to Sen. Bernie Sanderss campaign and of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta disclosing the contents of Clintons paid speeches to Wall Street and pay-to-play aspects of the Clinton Foundation and sharing that information with the American people via WikiLeaks. Although WikiLeaks denies getting the two batches of emails from the Russians, the U.S. intelligence community says it has high confidence in its conclusions about Russian meddling and the mainstream U.S. media treats the allegations as flat-fact. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making opening remarks at a joint White House press conference with President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, 2017. (Screenshot from White House video) The U.S. intelligence community also has accused the Russian government of raising doubts in the minds of Americans about their political system by having RT, the Russian-sponsored news network, hold debates for third-party candidates (who were excluded from the two-party Republican-Democratic debates) and by having RT report on protests such as Occupy Wall Street and issues such as fracking. The major U.S. news media and Congress seem to agree that the only remaining question is whether evidence can be adduced showing that the Trump campaign colluded in this Russian operation. For that purpose, a number of people associated with the Trump campaign are to be hauled before Congress and made to testify on whether or not they are Russian agents. Meanwhile, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other establishment-approved outlets are working with major technology companies on how to marginalize independent news sources and to purge Russian propaganda (often conflated with fake news) from the Internet. It seems that no extreme is too extreme to protect the American people from the insidious Russians and their Russia-gate schemes to sow doubt about the U.S. political process. But God forbid if anyone were to suggest an investigation of Israel-gate. Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, Americas Stolen Narrative, either inprint hereor as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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April 25, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Codisto Launches Amazon Integration For Magento, WooCommerce – PYMNTS.com

Share Share Share Share Email Codisto, a marketplace integration software company and Magento Imagine sponsor, has launched its Amazon integration for Magento and WooCommerce, which will accompany its current eBay integration. According to a press release, now more than 1 million merchants can benefit from the full, real-time synchronization of products, inventory and orders between Amazon, eBay and merchant websites. This can significantly boost sales while still allowing merchants to keep their existing business processes intact. Codistos MarketPlace Connect plugin offers merchants the easiest and fastest way to access the millions of customers regularly buying from Amazons global marketplace, said Jonathan Pollard, CEO of Codisto. Its a very deep, quality plugin offering full SaaS integration with real-time performance thats very fast to set up and simple to use. We have enjoyed fantastic success since we launched our eBay integration in 2015. Adding Amazon integration was a natural extension for Codisto, and we expect to quickly see merchants from all over the world take advantage of the solution. While many integration services require merchants to use additional ecommerce platforms to manage marketplaces, that isnt the case with Codistos Amazon integration. Through native integration, merchants get the benefit of a real-time SaaS marketplace integration service combined with the efficiency of maintaining their existing platform and business processes. The concept of multichannel integration is not new, Pollard said, but native integration is technically very challenging which is why there are so few native solutions. Codisto has taken a deep and narrow approach to developing its solutions, limiting the platforms and marketplaces we provide integration for. This has allowed us to set a new global standard for marketplace integration. Merchants no longer have to suffer unwanted third-party marketplaces platforms or suboptimal native integration solutions. Share Share Share Share Email

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April 4, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Expert: ‘Ghattas deal sends the wrong message’ – Israel National News – Arutz Sheva

Attorney Ornat Cameron, an expert on criminal law, on Monday sharply criticized the plea bargain signed with MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List), according to which he will serve just two years in prison for smuggling cell phones to terrorists. Ghattas on Sunday morning submitted his resignation letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein as part of the plea bargain. Speaking with Arutz Sheva, Cameron said that, with the plea bargain, the State Prosecutor’s Office sent a “forgiving message to the enemies of the state.” “The priorities of the State Prosecutor’s Office and its leaders are missing. Where has the fighting spirit of the State Attorney’s Office gone? When we examine the case of former MK Ghattas in terms of evidence, its a done deal. All the evidence is there. We all saw former MK Ghattas smuggle cellular phones and SIM cards into a prison and transfer them to the enemies of the state, while taking advantage of his status [as a Knesset member], she said. Cameron opined that citizens of the state of Israel should be concerned about the plea bargain. “I wonder, for example, why the United States has different priorities [on such matters]. I look at the example of Jonathan Pollard. How is it that Jonathan Pollard languished in prison for 30 years for crimes that are no less serious than those attributed to MK Ghattas, and even though the court recognized that it was espionage between two friendly countries, Pollard still sat in prison for many years? she said. Cameron said she believes there is no room for a plea bargain in such a case. “In cases such as these, when you are dealing with security-related offenses, I think there comes a point where the State Prosecutor’s Office has to draw some kind of line. When it comes to someone who acts to harm the state, we should not lend a hand to plea bargains, especially in a case where there were no evidentiary problems. It does not give a feeling of security to the citizens of Israel when the state signs a funny plea bargain with an enemy of Israel, and therefore we as citizens should be a little more concerned, she concluded. Ghattas signed a plea bargain which requests the court to reduce his prison sentence to two years, and place him on probation for an as yet undetermined period of time. The plea bargain also required Ghattas to submit his resignation immediately, which he did on Sunday morning. Several MKs criticized Ghattas’ sentence as being too light, since Ghattas was involved in terrorist activities.

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March 22, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

International diplomacy requires delicate balance – Times Daily

Among his supporters, President Donald Trump has a reputation as a straight talker. This is despite the presidents refusal to be upfront about his finances, and the frequent accusations he puts forth, some based upon questionable evidence. There is one area where Trump does merit the title straight talker, and that is international relations. Unfortunately, this is also the one area where a bit more discretion is warranted. During German Chancellor Angela Merkels visit last week, the president joked that the two had something in common: They both were spied on by President Barack Obamas administration. It was a reference to Trumps unsubstantiated claim that the Obama administration spied on him, as well as to older, more credible allegations about the National Security Agency spying on Merkel. For her part, Merkel did not seem amused. Even before he took the oath of office, Trump ruffled feathers overseas when he personally took a phone call from Taiwans President Tsai Ing-wen. It was the first direct communication between leaders of the two countries since 1979, and a breach of longstanding protocol in U.S.-China relations. China is a major power, and its leaders take that seriously, which is why they insist on a One China policy that treats Taiwan as merely an unruly province. Diplomacy is vitally important. Nations engage in it to resolve conflicts peacefully. A lot of diplomacy is built upon polite fictions. One of those fictions is that Taiwan is not, for all practical purposes, a sovereign state within the American sphere of influence in Asia and protected by a mutual defense pact with the U.S. The defense pact is also a polite fiction. It says mutual, but no one expects Taiwan to come running to help defend the U.S. Other polite fictions of U.S. diplomacy include not talking about Turkeys genocide of the Armenians, because Turkey is a NATO ally and the Turks are touchy about the subject. The U.S. also doesnt talk about Israels nuclear arsenal, although we know they have one and so does everyone else. Another polite fiction is that allies do not spy on one another, but this happens, too. We know from Edward Snowdens revelations that even allies spy on each other. Then theres Jonathan Pollard, who spent nearly 30 years of a life sentence in prison for sharing U.S. intelligence with Israel. But no one in power admits such spying goes on, hardly anyone talks about it, and spies who get caught usually cause more embarrassment than theyre worth. Into this environment steps President Trump. For him, the polite fictions that make international relations work smoothly are just another species of fake news. He has no time for playing such games. Its no wonder other world leaders dont know quite how to react to Trump in the White House. What nations say to each other behind closed doors is one thing; what they say in front of cameras at joint press conferences is another. That is how diplomacy works.

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March 22, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Washington Watch: Art of the peace deal – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Activists, including Israelis and Palestinians, take part in a demonstration in support of peace near Jericho. (photo credit:REUTERS) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Right celebrated US President Donald Trumps election as a green light on settlement building and a red light on peace processing that seemed confirmed by the appointment of a new American ambassador who made Netanyahu look like a peacenik. The awakening began a few days before what was to be Netanyahus triumphal visit to an Obama-free White House, where hed be warmly embraced. He got the physical embrace and even a shout-out to his wife, but the news must have been chilling to a prime minister who sometimes says hes for a two-state solution but who has done nothing to prove it. The master negotiator told his Israeli friend he really was serious about making the ultimate deal, and publicly urged him to hold back on settlements a little bit. The prime minister was in big trouble back home and desperate for something to take back to divert attention from the criminal investigations against him, but he left largely empty handed. There was no renewal of the 2004 George W. Bush letter sanctioning construction in the major settlement blocs, no relocation of the embassy, no Jonathan Pollard to take back, no shelving the peace processing and no approval of his request to bless Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights. At their joint news conference, Trump said he had no preference between the one-state or two-state approach. But within 24 hours, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley declared the United States absolutely backs the two-state solution. Last Friday Trump phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to invite him to the White House to talk about peacemaking. Abbas said Trump called him his partner left the Palestinian leader convinced the US still backed Palestinian statehood anathema to Netanyahu and his ever-further- right backers. One of Trumps special envoys, his chief real estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt, is in Israel this week to begin groundwork for resuscitating the peace talks, while Trump met at the White House with a top Saudi prince to discuss on related topics. Their agenda is believed to include the Arab Peace Initiative as a framework for peace talks. Israel initially rejected it totally; now it is willing to discuss parts of it. Candidate Trump staked out a hardline position on Israeli-Palestinian issues, but since the election hes been moving leftward, which makes Netanyahu and the Israeli Right very nervous. Every president comes in thinking hes the one who can untie this Gordian knot. That apparently goes double for the man who wrote The Art of the Deal, and what he lacks in knowledge of the conflict, experience and understanding he more than makes up for in ego and self-confidence. Lets get to the bottom line: Trump, whatever his skills, will not make the deal. Thats not really his fault. No peace is possible so long as Netanyahu and Abbas are in power. Over the past eight years their dislike and distrust for each other has only grown, they are politically weak, not really interested and strangled by their own inertia; the situation has deteriorated to the point where their hold on power is tenuous. So why bother? On one thing both are right: neither really has a partner for peace. Abbass hope is all will collapse and everyone else will force Israel to bend to his terms. Netanyahus prayer is that Trump will be like his predecessors: give it a try and give up. The Israeli premier knows that Trump has a notoriously short attention span and no appetite for details. But the newly minted president also hates to lose and can be vindictive toward those he feels thwarted him. What is Trump really looking for? Does he want to bring peace between these old enemies or is it all about the art of the deal? This is not a real-estate negotiation where differences can be measured in dollars or square footage and split down the middle. The late Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal once admonished a top State Department official that making peace in the Middle East is not like a contract negotiation. For you its one from column A in exchange for one from column B, but for the Israelis its a matter of life and death, he explained. He felt the diplomats were indifferent to the human element. I once worked for an organization with a number of wealthy real-estate developers on the board, and one of their colleagues a surgeon used to say that for them the deal was everything, not substance of the project. He loves deals, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. President Trump is a people person. Hes a dealmaker. Hes a negotiator. Hes a businessman. He understands how to sit in a room and get a deal, and he enjoys it. That is too simplistic an approach for this historic conflict. It may be in part about territory, but it is no real estate deal, involving as it does religion, centuries-old grievances and a deep connection to the land on both sides. Veteran peace processors Dennis Ross and David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Peace have said that instead of swinging for the fence Trump ought to go for some solid singles. For starters focus on preventing Israeli moves annexation of West Bank areas, expanding settlements that could permanently block statehood while improving the Palestinian economy and governing institutions and demanding an end to Palestinian incitement. It may be the easiest step for the Palestinians, but its one they resist, and has done the most to weaken the Israeli peace camp that they badly need. Overreaching in pursuit of the ultimate deal and ultimate ego gratification for a president who seems stuck in early adolescence is certain to fail and likely to make a bad situation worse. Trumps great challenge is to set realistic goals not the deal of the century but an incremental process out of the public spotlight where the two sides can have serious discussions, not make plays for the grandstands, which so far seems to be their specialties. Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin Prev Article Jerusalem Post Letters to the Editor: About the star… The Owl: Not everything about Purim is funny Next Article

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March 17, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Jewish trivia quiz: Republican Jewish Coalition – San Diego Jewish World

Posted on 06 March 2017. By Mark D. Zimmerman Mark D. Zimmerman MELVILLE, New York The Republican Jewish Coalition held their annual convention last week at the Venetian Resort Hotel in Las Vegas. Among the speakers was Elliot Lauer, RJC board member and lawyer for Jonathan Pollard. In a dvar Torah which he offered to the attendees, to what did Lauer compare Donald Trumps victory in the presidential election? A. He compared it to the victory of the Maccabees against King Antiochus and the Syrians, as celebrated in the Chanukah story. B. He compared it to the triumph of the Jews against King Ahashverus and the Persians as celebrated in the Purim story. C. He compared it to the victory of the shepherd David who slew the giant Goliath, as told in the Book of Samuel. D. He compared it to the victory of the Israelis against the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan during the Six Day War of 1967. E. He compared it to the Best of the Beverages contest at the 2017 Americas Food and Beverage Show which had been held at the Venetian Resort Hotel the week before, in which Orange Julius was the unexpected victor. Link to answer: http://rrrjewishtrivia.com/answers/rjc-answer.html Zimmerman is the author of the Rashi, Rambam and Ramalamadingdong series of Jewish trivia e-books. Learn more athttp://www.rrrjewishtrivia.com.

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March 7, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

Jonathan J. Pollard – The New York Times

Latest Articles The operation also targeted Egypt, Iran, Syria and Turkey, according to evidence attributed to leaks by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden. The United States Parole Commission was ordered to provide a fuller explanation of its reasons for electronically tracking the movements of Mr. Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel during the Cold War. By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr. To his supporters he is a hero, but he grievously violated the laws and the trust of his country and does not deserve special consideration. By THE EDITORIAL BOARD Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli citizens applauded Friday’s release of Jonathan J. Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel in the 1980s. By REUTERS During his 30 years in prison, Mr. Pollard repeatedly returned to the spotlight as a point of contention in the United States relationship with Israel. By MIKAYLA BOUCHARD The American convicted of spying for Israel was released on parole on Friday, but the Obama administration had no plans to let him move to Israel. By PETER BAKER and JODI RUDOREN The American convicted of spying for Israel will be released on parole on Friday, but the Obama administration has no plans to let him move to Israel. By PETER BAKER Jonathan J. Pollard was released on Friday after receiving parole. He served 30 years of a life sentence for passing classified United States documents to Israel. By PETER BAKER Esther Pollard, the wife of Jonathan J. Pollard, an Israeli spy sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States, celebrated on Wednesday the decision to release him. Reuters Israel tragically underestimated American anger when it hired Jonathan Pollard as a spy; celebrating his release will only make things worse. By RONEN BERGMAN Mr. Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel, will be released in November after serving 30 years, a government panel decided on Tuesday. By MICHAEL D. SHEAR Attempts in Washington to highlight the likely parole of Jonathan J. Pollard in hopes of quieting a campaign against the Iran deal could provoke a backlash, analysts say. By JODI RUDOREN The White House says relations with Israel will not influence the November release of Mr. Pollard, an American who was convicted of spying for Israel. Marwan Barghouti, a popular political figure and a convicted murderer serving multiple life sentences in Israel, could be an impetus to continue negotiations. More and more Jews say the time to free Jonathan J. Pollard is long past, but they are unsure whether he should be used as a chit in a diplomatic transaction with Israel. Jonathan J. Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel, is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally. Natalia V. Osipova Even as the Palestinian leadership took formal steps on Wednesday to gain the benefits of statehood outside the negotiation process, the parties appeared ready to seek a formula for continuing the negotiations. The release of the convicted spy by the United States would do nothing to advance progress on the core issues of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. An effort by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to join 15 international agencies threatened to derail the fraught peace talks. The operation also targeted Egypt, Iran, Syria and Turkey, according to evidence attributed to leaks by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden. The United States Parole Commission was ordered to provide a fuller explanation of its reasons for electronically tracking the movements of Mr. Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel during the Cold War. By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr. To his supporters he is a hero, but he grievously violated the laws and the trust of his country and does not deserve special consideration. By THE EDITORIAL BOARD Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli citizens applauded Friday’s release of Jonathan J. Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel in the 1980s. By REUTERS During his 30 years in prison, Mr. Pollard repeatedly returned to the spotlight as a point of contention in the United States relationship with Israel. By MIKAYLA BOUCHARD The American convicted of spying for Israel was released on parole on Friday, but the Obama administration had no plans to let him move to Israel. By PETER BAKER and JODI RUDOREN The American convicted of spying for Israel will be released on parole on Friday, but the Obama administration has no plans to let him move to Israel. By PETER BAKER Jonathan J. Pollard was released on Friday after receiving parole. He served 30 years of a life sentence for passing classified United States documents to Israel. By PETER BAKER Esther Pollard, the wife of Jonathan J. Pollard, an Israeli spy sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States, celebrated on Wednesday the decision to release him. Reuters Israel tragically underestimated American anger when it hired Jonathan Pollard as a spy; celebrating his release will only make things worse. By RONEN BERGMAN Mr. Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel, will be released in November after serving 30 years, a government panel decided on Tuesday. By MICHAEL D. SHEAR Attempts in Washington to highlight the likely parole of Jonathan J. Pollard in hopes of quieting a campaign against the Iran deal could provoke a backlash, analysts say. By JODI RUDOREN The White House says relations with Israel will not influence the November release of Mr. Pollard, an American who was convicted of spying for Israel. Marwan Barghouti, a popular political figure and a convicted murderer serving multiple life sentences in Israel, could be an impetus to continue negotiations. More and more Jews say the time to free Jonathan J. Pollard is long past, but they are unsure whether he should be used as a chit in a diplomatic transaction with Israel. Jonathan J. Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel, is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally. Natalia V. Osipova Even as the Palestinian leadership took formal steps on Wednesday to gain the benefits of statehood outside the negotiation process, the parties appeared ready to seek a formula for continuing the negotiations. The release of the convicted spy by the United States would do nothing to advance progress on the core issues of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. An effort by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to join 15 international agencies threatened to derail the fraught peace talks.

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March 6, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed

My Take on the News – Yated.com

The Specter of the State Comptrollers Report There is a political explosion in the offing here in Israel, and it has to do with the state comptrollers report on Operation Protective Edge. I promised in the past to explain why this report is so frightening to so many figures in the government, but first I must clarify what the state comptroller does. The position of state comptroller is usually held by a retired judge, which has always created the impression that it is given as a gift to high-ranking officials in the twilight of their careers. The very first state comptroller was just such a person. The second person to hold the position, a religious man, was Dr. Yitzchok (better known as Ernst) Nebenzahl, the father of Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl, who is today the rov of the Old City and one of the most prominent talmidei chachomim in Yerushalayim. Rav Nebenzahl lives in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, at the end of the path leading down to the Kosel, in a building that was purchased and renovated by his father. Dr. Nebenzahl, a man of great dignity and a Yekke by extraction, served in the position of state comptroller for twenty years, from 1961 until 1981. During his years in the position, he published an annual report on all the deficiencies that he identified in the ministries of the government. The ministries were supposed to correct the defects he discovered, although it is difficult to say whether anyone checked to see if the issues had been addressed. As a result, the comptrollers reports were not taken very seriously until recent times. Several years ago, the rules of the game changed. The state comptroller began sending warnings to the ministries found to be lacking, even sometimes warning that his report might lead to a police investigation. In fact, in recent years, the comptroller has transferred certain cases to the attorney general and has demanded that a criminal investigation be opened. That is rather frightening to the ministers concerned. Several high-profile indictments in recent years have resulted from the comptrollers annual report. The individuals named in the report sometimes consult with top-notch attorneys before responding to the reports contents. The state comptroller has the same standing as a government minister. His position comes with the same terms, and he is invited to the same official events as any other minister of the government. In years past, the comptroller was treated like an elderly relative who is humored but receives little attention, but that is no longer the case. The current comptroller is Dr. Yosef Shapira, who also served as a judge before he was appointed to the position. When Shapira was first appointed, there was much talk about his pleasant, kind demeanor. The longer he has occupied the post, though, the more it has become clear that regardless of how much he smiles, he can also bite. Finding Fault with Ministers and the Army This brings us to the report on Operation Protective Edge. While the report was being prepared, the comptroller announced that he would be investigating not only the government and the cabinet, including the prime minister, but also the army and its officers, including the chief of staff. That is why we have recently heard of many government ministers going to great lengths to explain that they warned the cabinet about potential dangers during the war. Some claim that even at the time of the operation itself, many ministers already feared the state comptrollers wrath and made statements that they felt would reflect positively on them later. This time, the comptroller reviewed the conduct of additional arms of the security apparatus, including the head of the Mossad, in addition to the government and the army. The reason this is important is that it is a known fact that the government was not prepared for the threat of the tunnels in the south that the terrorists used to infiltrate the country. There were multiple warnings that the tunnels were being constructed, but the government and the army did nothing about it or, at least, they didnt do enough. The comptroller investigated whether those claims were true and who was at fault for what was done, as well as what was not done. Was the armys intelligence division aware of the threat from the tunnels being dug beneath our noses? And if they knew about the danger, did they warn the cabinet? And if they did, did the cabinet act in accordance with those warnings? If they werent warned, then was that itself an act of negligence on the armys part? These are all questions that are very uncomfortable for the parties concerned. The comptroller began investigating this subject as early as February 2014, as a continuation of a report issued in 2007 by his predecessor, who found that the governments handling of the terror tunnels in the south was nothing short of a resounding failure. The comptrollers work was suspended when Operation Protective Edge began in July 2014, and it resumed when the operation ended. However, in the aftermath of the war, Dr. Shapira decided to expand his investigation beyond the government itself, to encompass the security apparatus as well. This was a precedent-setting move that will go down in history as his own innovation. Shuls in Jeopardy I may work in the Knesset, but I am also part of the Israeli public, and I am a strong believer in the right to know. I have a particular interest in parliamentary queries, and in the responses delivered by government ministers to those queries. Naftali Bennett, who holds the positions of both Minister of Diaspora Affairs and Minister of Education, was recently asked for an official response to a plea for help received from the Jewish communities of Morocco, where the shuls are in dire need of renovations. His answer lay somewhere in the range between astounding and appalling: The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs is not involved in the renovation of sacred sites in other parts of the world, and the ministry does not maintain any financial aid programs for this purpose. To take this one step further, here is what he wrote: On October 6, 2015, the Knesset Research and Information Center published a document entitled, Preservation of Sites in Israel: Preservation of Synagogues. The document briefly discusses the preservation and restoration of synagogues in the Diaspora, and the research center concludes that there is no entity in Israel that is involved in the restoration of synagogues in the Diaspora. In general, that restoration is performed voluntarily, with funding from Jewish philanthropists or from the governments of the jurisdictions in which the synagogues are located. If a piece of paper could shed tears, this document itself would certainly weep. But the surprises do not end there. The parliamentary query to which Bennett responded was submitted by none other than Zouheir Bahloul, an Arab member of the Knesset from the Zionist Camp party, who worked as a radio sports announcer before he was elected. I asked Bahloul why he was concerned about the fate of shuls in chutz laaretz, and he explained that he had been part of a parliamentary delegation that visited Morocco and met with the leaders of the Jewish community in Marrakesh. The Jews of Morocco had told the visitors from Israel that their shuls are in a state of disrepair, and although King Mohammed VI supports the Jewish community, the funds they receive are not sufficient for the upkeep and refurbishment that the shuls need. They asked the visiting Knesset members to convey their plea for help to the Israeli government. The text of Bahlouls query was: Does the Israeli government provide financial support for Jewish sites throughout the world? Is the difficult plight of the synagogues in Morocco known to the ministry, and if so, is there a plan for any sort of support for the Moroccan community? The response to Bahlouls questions, as you have already seen, was a resounding rejection. Watching the Rabbonim Zoheir Bahlouls query about the shuls in Morocco may have been a novelty in the Knesset, but there was nothing new or unusual about the parliamentary question submitted by Michal Rozin of the Meretz party. Meretz has a deep, abiding hatred for all things Jewish, and it should come as no surprise that Rozin asked the following: The law provides a mechanism for municipal rabbonim to face disciplinary hearings if a complaint is filed by the Minister of Justice. I would like to know how many disciplinary proceedings have taken place over the past five years and which rabbonim they involved. The lady from Meretz went on to demand specific information: What was the nature of the complaints filed by the Minister of Justice against municipal rabbonim? Against which rabbonim were complaints filed by the Minister of Justice? How many of the disciplinary hearings ended in a conviction? Some, however, may be surprised by the response of Ayelet Shaked, the Minister of Justice: In response to this question, I am pleased to report that since the year 2010 until today, there have been no complaints filed against municipal rabbonim. One of the reasons for this is that there are certain difficulties involved in using this disciplinary tool. The Embassy Law There has been an incredible amount of talk about the transfer of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Yerushalayim. It is as if people think that this will somehow lead to the geulah. Or as if it will increase our security here in Yerushalayim. Or as if and excuse me for saying this there will be some real benefit from it. But let us calm down. Let us not be carried away by the prevailing mood. The most amusing thing about this is that in the Senate in Washington, a law has already been passed requiring the embassy to be moved to Yerushalayim. You wont believe this, and perhaps you have forgotten by now, but it happened in the year 1995. To be more precise, it was on October 24, 1995, over twenty years ago. True, it came after four previous failed attempts, but in the end, it actually happened. One of the senators who was among the bills most enthusiastic supporters was a relatively unknown politician at the time by the name of Joe Biden. Yes, Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States until just over a month ago. At that time, he sounded very different from the way he sounds today. His stance was very different from Barack Obamas. Here is what he said: The only way to bring about peace in the Middle East is for the Arabs to understand that there are no disagreements between Israel and the United States. No disagreements at all. Zero Over and over, empires have tried to attack the connection between the Jews and their capital city. They destroyed the Temple and displaced the Jews from Jerusalem; they limited the number of Jews who were allowed to live in the city, and in this century, they simply tried to destroy the Jews. But they have never been able to completely eliminate the Jewish presence in Jerusalem, or to sever the spiritual connection between the Jews and their capital city. Transferring the embassy to Jerusalem will send an appropriate message Ted Kennedy and John Kerry also supported the law. Then-Senator Chuck Robb, a Democrat from Virginia, stressed that moving the embassy would not have any impact on the peace talks. Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, as well as Senator William Cohen, a Republican from Maine and later the Secretary of Defense, supported the law. Arlen Specter, a Jewish senator from Pennsylvania, also spoke in favor of the law and supported it. Naturally, it also had the support of other Jewish senators: Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, Carl Levin of Michigan, and, of course, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Frank Lautenberg, yet another Jewish senator from New Jersey (and a Democrat), was particularly effusive, declaring that Jerusalem will forever remain the undivided capital of Israel. Incidentally, Lautenberg held onto his seat in the Senate for a record number of years; he passed away three years ago at the age of 90. The bill was formulated and championed by three leading senators at the time: Robert Dole, a Republican from Kansas and later a presidential nominee, and two Democratic senators, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Patrick Moynihan of New York. The law was passed on November 8, 1995, and stated that the embassy should move to Yerushalayim no later than May 31, 1999. It included a qualification that authorized the president to delay the transfer, if necessary for American security, by half a year. The president would remain authorized to continue delaying the transfer every half year, if he saw fit, and that is precisely what has happened. I believe that Obama signed another six-month delay just before he left the White House. Since the law was passed, every president and presidential candidate has announced his support for transferring the embassy to Yerushalayim. That sentiment was expressed by George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore, yet every president has repeatedly delayed the laws implementation. As another aside, in June 1997, Congress with a majority of 406 in favor versus 17 against authorized an allocation of $100 million for the construction of the new embassy in Yerushalayim. What Will We Gain if the Embassy Moves? This brings us to Donald Trump. Do you remember the joint press conference he held with Netanyahu? One of the questions they were asked, of course, was whether Trump had changed his mind about moving the embassy to Yerushalayim. This question came from an Israeli journalist. Netanyahu and Trump took turns calling on reporters to ask questions, with Trump selecting American journalists while Netanyahu called on the Israeli reporters. Trump answered the question exactly as he had been coached by his advisors, who calculate the impact of every word that the president will utter. His answer was that the United States is examining the matter closely and with great care. That is, they are weighing the potential benefits against the disadvantages to decide whether the move is worth the cost. Let us say that this move, which would essentially be for the purpose of making a statement, might lead to bloodshed in Yerushalayim, and it might even cause an explosion in the Middle East. Would it be worth the price? If even one person is murdered because the embassy is moved, would it be the right thing to do? Now, some might say that if we think that way, we will never do anything at all. And it may be true that this calculation could deter us from much more than merely allowing the embassy to be moved. But we have to assess each potential action in its own right. If it is a step that is very important and can achieve something substantial, and certainly if it is meant to increase the security of the State of Israel, then perhaps we can disregard its negative potential. But if it will do nothing more than make a statement, then we should think twice about it. Or, as Trump would say, we should examine it closely and with great care. One more point on this subject: In a conversation with Israeli journalists, high-ranking officials in the American government intimated that Trump has lost his enthusiasm for the move because senior Israeli officials are themselves not quite sanguine about it. Allow me to guess what that means: The leaders of Israels various security services i.e., the head of the Mossad, the head of the Shin Bet, and possibly the head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence as well told the American government outright that transferring the embassy to Yerushalayim could lead to a full-scale conflagration. They probably warned Trump that the outcome might be similar to the intifada that broke out after Ariel Sharons ill-advised visit to Har Habayis. Speaking of the Israeli influence on American policies, if Jonathan Pollard is not permitted to leave America and settle in Israel, I hope that it will not be due to Israeli intervention. I believe that there are still people in this country who fear what Pollard will say if he has the chance to open his mouth. And only they know what it is they have to fear. A Circle is Closed In conclusion, I would like to share with you a dialogue that took place between two people, a yungerman from Kiryat Sefer who volunteers for Lev LAchim and a chiloni man from the center of the country who is his weekly chavrusah. This week, the chiloni managed to surprise his religious study partner. In general, the irreligious man told his chavrusah when they first met, when people approach me with tefillin and ask if I want to put them on, I tell them that I have already put on tefillin. It isnt that I have anything against them, but I also have no reason to be in favor of them. I am happy that they are content in life, but I am also content, even without tefillin. True, the yungerman replied, but it doesnt befit a person like you to lie. Its just a white lie, the other man said dismissively. It isnt a lie that causes any harm. Besides, its true that I already put on tefillin at my bar mitzvah! Today, he wears tefillin every day, not to mention the tzitzis that sits beneath his expensive shirt. But he makes no effort to put his newfound religiosity on display. I am doing fine without a kippah and a beard, he asserts. Lets just say that I keep a large number of the 613 mitzvos, but without any fanfare. It all began with a visit to the Kosel. While he was there, someone tapped him on the shoulder and initiated a conversation. One thing led to another, and he received a telephone call that resulted in a weekly learning session with a yungerman from Kiryat Sefer. Not just any avreich, but a dos-dos, he reflects, indicating that he considers his learning partner to be ultra-religious. I began learning with him out of curiosity about what he had to offer, and I continued it for the intellectual challenge. Today, I enjoy learning Talmudic sugyos. Two months ago, he asked the coordinator at Lev LAchim to increase his learning time to a two-hour session, twice a week. If its too hard for my avreich, he added, I am willing to go to his house. Never mind the fact that he lives in a spacious duplex in Shoham, while the yungerman resides in a tiny apartment in Kiryat Sefer. This week, he asked his chavrusah to begin learning hilchos Shabbos with him, from any sefer of his choosing. This gentleman is about forty years old, give or take, and a former member of one of Israels security agencies. Today, he runs a business that provides services to shield computers against digital threats. At any time, he may be found in Shoham or in a variety of locations abroad, from Sri Lanka to Ottawa, depending on a clients needs and the price he is willing to pay. As they began learning hilchos Shabbos, he commented to his chavrusah that it marked a sort of closing of a circle. Twenty years ago, he related, I was an officer in an intelligence unit in the army, and a famous baal teshuvah came to deliver a speech. We werent all that eager to hear the speech, but since our superiors went into the lecture hall, we followed them. No one was forcing us, of course, but there was a sort of social pressure. It was also before Rosh Hashanah, so there might have been some Jewish instinct that drove us to listen as well. Someone in the audience asked a question: Why is it prohibited to turn on a light on Shabbos? After all, there is no effort or exertion involved. Does G-d really care if we press a button? The questioners intent, of course, was to mock his form of Judaism as something that remains stagnant and does not move forward with the times. Can you imagine what the armys computers would look like today if we didnt move along with the pace of the world? We live in a dynamic world, after all. And what is the circle that is closing? the yungerman asked him. Give me a moment, the other man replied. That baal teshuvah was Uri Zohar. When he heard the question, he was silent for a moment, and then he gave an answer that the person who had asked the question did not like. He explained that if you carry a heavy bench up five flights of stairs, you may be sweating profusely, but you will not violate the Shabbos. On the other hand, one tiny touch of a light switch can be an act of chillul Shabbos. The reason, he said, is that chillul Shabbos isnt measured by the exertion involved. It is based on the situation. If you turn on a light, you have changed something. And if you turn off a light, you have created a new situation. That is the prohibition. Uri Zohar received a round of applause for that answer, but the original questioner shook his head. He wasnt satisfied. Today, my work in computers has led me to appreciate just how much can change with the simple press of a button or switch. But what did you mean about closing a circle? his chavrusah asked again. Rabbi Uri Zohar is one of the leaders of Lev LAchim, isnt he? He is the one who founded the Kosel project, isnt he? Yes. And who do you think asked that question all those years ago? the computer specialist exclaimed triumphantly. It was the very man who is now sitting across the table from you and learning the laws of Shabbos!

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March 3, 2017   Posted in: Jonathan Pollard  Comments Closed


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