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April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘American Jews’

Scottish Brewer from Gush Etzion Crafts Traditional Beer

Monday, April 15th, 2013

The Israeli beer industry includes a wide range of brew masters from native Israelis to North American immigrants whose microbreweries can be found across the country from the Golan, Western Galilee and Jezreel Valley, to Ein Hod and Emek Hefer in the north and in the Negev.

In the hills of Judea, Gush Etzion also has its very own brewery known as the Lone Tree Brewery. Established four years ago by David Shire, originally from Glasgow, Scotland and his wife, Miriam from Tunisia, along with an American couple, Yochanan and Susan Levin, the brewery offers a wide array of flavors to the Israeli market.

Most likely the only Scottish brew master in Israel and maybe even in the Middle East, Shire has been living in Israel for the past 30 years.  A biologist, who was studying for a PhD when he first made aliyah while working at Hadassah, Shire made a career switch to landscape gardening and eventually discovered the brewery business as well.

“Back in the UK, you feel as though you must have a certain professional status, but once in Israel, I found that this was largely not the case – it’s acceptable to work in all sorts of jobs. I would rather work in gardening and making beer than in a lab with mice,” Shire told Tazpit News Agency.

Growing up in Scotland, Shire was very familiar with beer and believed that there was a void to fill in the Israeli market. Along with his American counterparts, the Levins, who are also his neighbors in the Neve Daniel community, Shire and his wife discussed one night the possibility of opening a boutique brewery. “We didn’t necessarily drink a lot of beer growing up, but we knew what good beer is supposed to taste like,” said Shire whose mother still lives in Glasgow.

“With that in mind, we wanted to make the best beer possible,” Shire explained, pointing to a periodic table of beer styles tacked on the brewery wall.

The initiative didn’t begin with sweeping expectations. “We started out small, making our own styles of beer based on traditional recipes. The next step was to see if the beer would sell.”

In addition to creating seven unique flavors of beer which include London Pale Ale, Belgian Piraat Ale, California Steam Ale, and Extra Oatmeal Stout, an Irish flavor, Shire and his partners also had to come up with a unique label for their beer. “We wanted a name that would reflect that the beer was crafted in the hills of Judea, and therefore we chose Lone Tree, a symbol of this region.”

The lone tree is a 700 year-old oak tree that stands in Gush Etzion near the Alon Shvut community. The tree became a symbolic landmark to Jewish residents forced to leave behind their communities when Gush Etzion fell to the Jordanian Legion in May 1948. Among the heavy losses, the Jordanians destroyed Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, established in 1935 while also killing its 127 Jewish defenders the day before Israel’s Declaration of Independence. During the 19 years that Gush Etzion was under Jordanian control until Israel’s victory in the 1967 war, the children of Gush Etzion would go to certain observation points in Jerusalem to glimpse the oak tree from afar, dreaming of their return home.

Today, the Lone Tree Brewery, which is located a few minutes away from the famous oak tree, sells its brews across Gush Etzion and Jerusalem, producing a few hundred bottles each month with plans to expand. The brewery also makes specialty beers for Jewish holidays including a popular date and pomegranate beer for Rosh Hashana.

“There is something magical about making beer here in Israel,” adds Shire, pouring a glass of Extra Oatmeal Stout. “When tourists come to visit us, they get to experience phenomenal views of the Judean hills and the coast, soak in the area’s history, all while drinking a quality hand-crafted beer. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

The Lone Tree Brewery is located in the Gush Etzion forest in the Abu-Cleb Recreational Park, a 15-minute drive from Jerusalem.

Jewish Groups Urge Faster Path to Citizenship for Immigrants

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

In a letter timed for Passover, a broad array of Jewish groups urged President Obama and Congress to facilitate a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“American Jews know too well the impact of restrictive immigration policies, and we have seen how the immigration issue can become a flashpoint for xenophobia,” said the letter sent March 22, spearheaded by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and including signatories representing all four Jewish religious streams as well as the major Jewish civil rights groups and the federation and public policy umbrellas.

“We are concerned the failure of national leaders to fix the broken immigration system has fueled racist, nativist, and extremist groups who blame immigrants for our country’s problems, and has been a central factor in the spread of state and local policies and laws that legalize discrimination against immigrants,” it says.

The letter, signed by 19 national groups and dozens of local groups and clergy, calls for legislation that “brings undocumented immigrants out of the shadows by providing a pathway to citizenship, creates safe and legal avenues for future flows of immigrants, reunites families, establishes border protection and enforcement policies that enhance our national security, and accords all immigrants the responsibilities and rights required for full integration into American society.”

It asks that such a system be “realistic” and that citizenship be available “within a reasonable timeframe of years, not decades.”

The letter also urges reform that “fixes the broken system for admitting and integrating refugees and asylum seekers.”

Yishai Speaks to Hadassah of Valencia Reserve

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai makes his way back to Florida to speak to Hadassah of Valencia Reserve. Yishai kicks off by talking about how American Jews need to look past any fear that they see regarding Israel and see the truth. He talks and ends discussing having famed journalist Christiane Amanpour visit his Mount of Olives home and the true reason why Amanpour did not use the footage that was filmed.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Why Liberals Blame Israel for their Rejection

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

There’s been a strange phenomenon building in the last few weeks that’s been puzzling me. But I’ve just figured it out. Various people—there are many examples so you can insert your own–have been writing that Israel is making some big mistake. It is losing support, especially liberal and American Jewish support, they explain, because of the way it’s been behaving.

What’s puzzling about this is that nothing has actually happened to imply that any great opportunity is being missed that might justify this attitude. There has been no recent turn toward peace by the Palestinian Authority; no great new idea promising a breakthrough; no change in personalities that offers some shocking new opportunity. The regional picture has been getting worse for reasons having nothing to do with Israel; Hamas stronger; and the Palestinian Authority equally intransigent.

Equally, Israel hasn’t done anything new or startling. The most important thing that can be said about Jewish settlements is that Israel hasn’t created any new ones in almost 20 years. True, there has been construction on existing settlements but that’s been going on since 1993 on a fairly regular basis. If anything, I think it has declined in pace and mostly in Jerusalem rather than farther out in Judea and Samaria. And, of course, all the settlements in the Gaza Strip have been dismantled.

One factor that might be mentioned is that the critics are far out of date. They describe the situation as it existed, say, in the 1980s when many Israelis believed that a negotiated deal with the PLO was possible and claimed that rightists were blocking this great opportunity because they were so suspicious of the Palestinians and so fond of settlements. Since then, that proposition was tested and found wanting in the 1993-2000 peace process era. Yet many American Jews and others simply haven’t noticed that things didn’t turn out the way the doves had hoped. To their credit, many of them (and I might as well say “us” rethought our assumptions).

Yet that was a dozen years ago. The behavior of the Palestinian Authority since then and the rise of revolutionary Islamism, among other factors, have underlined the skepticism engendered by the terrible peace process experience. If you claim the right to determine Israel’s fate and put its people’s lives at risks you might be expected to go to the trouble of doing a little research and serious thought on these matters.

So what is the great urgency here, the dramatic change, the Palestinian moderation that offers a real chance for peace, or the Israeli misbehavior that throws away a great opportunity to achieve it? Other than pure perversity, ideological nastiness, or a panic derived from mass media antagonism toward Israel or due to the sharp Obama era turn to the Left, the claim that Israel was doing something reckless which was antagonizing would-be supporters doesn’t make sense.

And then it hit me.

There has just been still another in a long series of polls about what Americans think of Israel and the Palestinians. These polls have been broadly consistent. In 2012, about 71 percent of Americans say they side with Israel, as high as that number has ever been in all of history! And that’s compared to only twenty percent who say they side with the Palestinians, a figure that has been stable now for three years. Here are the numbers from Gallup.

But here’s the point: apparently, Democratic and liberal support for Israel has gone down. The idea of supporting Israel’s control over Jerusalem was at first left out of the Democratic platform, then booed and opposed by a majority of the delegates voting (though undemocratically added anyway by the leadership). Of course, they did the same to mentioning God so Israel is, as so often historically, in good company.

The point, however, is that this isn’t really about Israel itself; it’s about the liberal Democratic intellectual (or pseudo-intellectual) upper middle class milieu of people claiming that Israel is wantonly throwing away support by acting irrationally. After all, these people have a choice in how to respond to the situation:

Option 1: Israel is at fault for losing the Obama cult crowd and a small but vocal increasingly left-wing sector of Americans (many of whom aren’t that thrilled with the United States either) because of something that it has done. If only Israel would show itself ready to take risks for peace, elect a prime minister who was ready to recognize a Palestinian state and give up almost all of the territory captured in 1967, show the Palestinians that Israelis aren’t horrible monsters, let Palestinians rule Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, help them get billions of dollars in aid, and let them create their own armed force to stop the real extremists then peace is possible!

Oh, wait a minute, that already happened. And there were three such prime ministers: Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak.

Option 2: Given an increasingly left-wing ideology that’s based on faulty assumptions and neglects the dangerous radicalism of Islamist forces and other enemies of America, it is the dominant worldview in the mass media, academia, and ruling circles in America that is to blame for turning away from Israel.

Understand this well: Option 1 requires Israel to change; Option 2 requires the people voicing such complaints about Israel to change.

Well, these people don’t want to examine their assumptions and change their views. They’d end up suffering for their support of Israel, they’d be out of step with the mob; they might have to—shudder!—step away from what’s popular and “in.” My goodness, they might even have to question Obama’s brilliance and policies!

No contest.

So it’s not surprising that Option 1 wins out. And the exact same point would apply if you substitute the word America for Israel and revised as required the details.

Hey, do what you have to do to avoid admitting you’re wrong and paying some price for telling the truth. But don’t blame us.

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Fuel For The Pollard Controversy

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Many Washington officials have long spun the story that convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard did immense harm to this country’s national security by stealing vital American military and intelligence secrets. Thus, the U.S. intelligence community has always opposed Mr. Pollard’s release.

(Most notoriously, then-CIA director George Tenet threatened to resign if President Clinton followed through on his reported plan to release Mr. Pollard in return for Israeli concessions at the Wye Plantation negotiations; Mr. Clinton backed off on releasing Pollard but pocketed the concessions anyway.)

In any event, it was maintained that Mr. Pollard refused to disclose the full extent of his spying which was said to have included turning over to his Israeli handlers the names of U.S. agents around the world, information said to have ended up in Soviet hands because of Soviet penetration of Israeli intelligence.

Newly released declassified documents, however, paint a significantly different picture.

The documents primarily relate to the 1987 CIA damage assessment report based on its interrogation of Mr. Pollard. It records that Mr. Pollard’s spying was focused, at Israel’s request, on information the U.S. had about the Soviets and Arab states, not U.S. military secrets. In particular this involved gathering data on Syria’s chemical weapons program, Pakistan’s nuclear program and Egypt’s missile program. According to the documents, “The Israelis did not request or receive from Pollard intelligence concerning some of the most sensitive U.S. national security resources…. The Israelis never expressed interest in U.S. military activities, plans, capabilities or equipment. Likewise, they did not ask for intelligence on U.S. communications per se.”

The documents also note that Mr. Pollard’s CIA debriefers said he cooperated “in good faith” and that polygraph examinations “tended to confirm that his cooperation with U.S. authorities was bona fide.” As a consequence, they were confident they were aware of the full extent of the information Mr. Pollard shared with Israel.

The documents also debunk the widespread belief that a secret memorandum submitted to the sentencing judge sealed Mr. Pollard’s fate. Rather, he received a life sentence despite a plea agreement calling for a much shorter term because he gave an interview to The Jerusalem Post in violation of the agreement. (Mr. Pollard’s attorneys deny that the interview violated the agreement.)

There are, to be sure, negatives in the report for Mr. Pollard: as was widely reported from the beginning of the story, his spying for Israel was done on a for-pay basis, and there is the unexplained assertion in a mostly redacted section in the report that “Pollard’s espionage has put at risk important U.S. intelligence and foreign-policy interests.” Perhaps this alludes to the Soviets having indirectly deduced U.S. information gathering techniques from the data on Arab countries.

But in the 28th year of Mr. Pollard’s imprisonment, and especially in light of what the declassified documents reveal, that should now be beside the point.

As Lawrence Korb, a U.S. deputy secretary of defense at the time of Mr. Pollard’s arrest, has said, the release of the CIA report “underscores the case for Pollard’s immediate release…. We knew all along that the information that Pollard passed concerned Arab countries, and not the U.S., but the release of this official document confirming the facts makes it much easier to bring a speedy end to this tragedy. After 28 years is time for Pollard to be released and to go home now.”

We agree.

Weinberger Gave Judge Wrong Information Resulting in Pollard’s Life Sentence

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

I previously wrote about new documents declassified in the Jonathan Pollard case, which might help us understand his disproportionate life sentence and why he is still imprisoned after 27 years.

Pollard’s lawyers negotiated a plea agreement with the government: he agreed to plead guilty and gave up his right to a jury trial; in return, the prosecution agreed not to seek a life sentence. By the precedents set by other cases of espionage on behalf of allies, Pollard expected a much lighter sentence.

Instead, the Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, presented a memo to the court at the last minute accusing Pollard of doing massive damage to the U.S. The prosecution then reneged on its agreement and the judge sentenced Pollard to life imprisonment. Pollard’s lawyers were able to see the document for a few minutes, but were not given the opportunity to respond. The document has been released in a highly redacted form, so it is still not possible to know precisely what was in it.

Part of the content was probably assertions that information from Pollard found its way to the Soviet Union, exposing several American agents who were then murdered by the KGB. As I explained Friday, it appears that the agents were actually betrayed either by double agent Aldrich Ames or another ‘mole’ in the CIA who was being protected by Ames. Hershel Shanks explains,

In 1983 Ames was made chief of the CIA’s Soviet counterintelligence branch in the Soviet-East European Division. Ames was recruited by the Russians in 1984. Ames would, of course, have every reason to deflect suspicion from himself and blame someone else for what was happening in the Moscow bureau – and Ames was in a position to do so.

The information Pollard passed to Israel about Russian weaponry in Arab states was obtained, at least in part, from American agents in Russia.

In the intelligence community it was well known that in the past KGB moles had penetrated Israeli intelligence. Perhaps a still-undiscovered Soviet mole inside Israeli intelligence passed the secrets to the Soviets that Pollard had passed to Israel.

Pollard was not sentenced until March 1987. Ames was still in charge of Soviet counter-intelligence within the CIA. Based on what Ames told him, Weinberger drafted his affidavit to the court [my emphasis].

But the government apparently provided additional “facts” to the judge. When Pollard attempted (unsuccessfully) to withdraw his guilty plea in 1990, attorney Alan Dershowitz presented the following affidavit to the court:

  1. My name is ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ. I am a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. I serve as one of the lawyers for Jonathan J. Pollard. During the 1963 – 1964 Supreme Court term, I was a law clerk to Mr. Justice Arthur Goldberg. Between that time and his death, I remained a close friend and associate of Mr. Justice Goldberg. We worked together on many projects, spoke and met frequently, and jointly authored articles and proposals.
  2. Following the publication of the a letter to the Jerusalem Post, on September 12, 1989, I spoke to Justice Goldberg on the telephone about the sentence imposed on Jonathan Pollard. I promised to send him some comparative sentencing data. Justice Goldberg promised to make some inquiries on his own regarding the sentence.
  3. Subsequent to this conversation, Justice Goldberg called me to tell me that he had personally met with Judge Aubrey Robinson and discussed the Pollard sentence with him. Justice Goldberg told me that Judge Robinson had told him that he (Judge Robinson) had been provided by the government with evidence that Jonathan Pollard had given Israel American satellite photographs proving that Israel had tested Jericho missiles in South Africa and had provided South Africa with missile and nuclear technology. Justice Goldberg told me further that Judge Robinson was particularly outraged by the Israel-South Africa connection and Pollard’s role in providing Israel with evidence that the United States had satellite evidence of it. Justice Goldberg told me that he understood why Judge Robinson, as a Black man, would be particularly sensitive to this evidence. Justice Goldberg told me that Judge Robinson had told him that Pollard-South African connection had weighed heavily in his (Judge Robinson’s) decision to impose a life sentence. I told Justice Goldberg that I did not believe that Jonathan Pollard had provided Israel with any such satellite information, but that I would check.
  4. I immediately called Hamilton Fox and Nathan Dershowitz [Pollard’s lawyers] and told them of my conversation with Justice Goldberg. Fox said he would check with Jonathan Pollard and his earlier attorney, Richard A. Hibey concerning the truth or falsity of the evidence provided to Judge Robinson.
  5. After being assured by Fox that there was no truth whatsoever in the claim that Jonathan Pollard had provided satellite photographs or information to Israel about South Africa, Jericho missiles or nuclear technology, I wrote Justice Goldberg the attached letter (Attachment A).
  6. On January 15, 1990 I spoke with Justice Goldberg on the phone. He was quite upset at the content of my letter and promised to get to the bottom of it. He told me that he would phone Attorney General Thornburgh for a meeting to discuss this issue and the sentence. He told me that if my facts were correct, then the Justice Department had improperly “pandered” (that was his precise word) to Judge Robinson’s racial sensitivities as a Black judge by providing him with false, inflammatory, ex parte information.
  7. On Friday morning January 19, 1990, I learned from Robert Goldberg that his father, Justice Arthur Goldberg, had died in his sleep during the night.

Was there a “South African connection?” It seems unlikely, considering the kind of information Israel sought from Pollard — information about its Arab enemies and their Soviet supporters.

But more important, even if there were such a connection, Judge Robinson’s outrage that Israel may have aided the hated South African regime is hardly a legitimate reason to doom Pollard to life in prison! After all, even if true, this wasn’t Pollard’s doing.

If indeed a combination of false accusations and an inappropriate emotional reaction by the judge resulted in Pollard’s life sentence, then a miscarriage of justice occurred.

The administration should either release Pollard or explain convincingly why he should remain in prison.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Pollard Still Imprisoned After 27 Years: An Object Lesson for Jews?

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Highly redacted CIA document about Jonathan Pollard case. Click for larger version.

Highly redacted CIA document about Jonathan Pollard case.

I haven’t written about Jonathan Pollard in a while. I’m prompted to do so again by two things: a recent news report that Pollard was taken to the hospital after collapsing in his cell (he is now back in jail), and the release today of formerly classified documents about his case.

Pollard, a Navy intelligence analyst, was arrested for passing classified information to Israel in 1985 and sentenced in 1987 to life imprisonment, when the government reneged on a plea deal. The judge in the case ruled after receiving confidential information about the damage that Pollard’s spying allegedly caused from former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

Weinberger’s memo to the court has now been declassified, but unfortunately the content that persuaded the judge to send Pollard to prison for life has been redacted, so we still don’t know exactly what Pollard is supposed to have done that justified his hugely disproportionate sentence. You can read more about the case here.

Some commentators think that Pollard was accused of being the source of information which led to the deaths of American agents at the hands of the Soviet KGB, when in fact this was provided by traitors Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. But this can’t be determined from what’s left of Weinberger’s memo.

One interesting item that appears in the declassified documents are details about some of what Pollard provided:

The documents provided information on PLO headquarters in Tunisia; specific capabilities of Tunisian and Libyan air defense systems; Iraqi and Syrian chemical warfare productions capabilities (including detailed satellite imagery); Soviet arms shipments to Syria and other Arab states; naval forces, port facilities, and lines of communication of various Middle Eastern and North African countries; the MiG-29 fighter; and Pakistan’s nuclear program. Also included was a U.S. assessment of Israeli military capabilities.

The government has not provided any additional information that makes the reasons for keeping Pollard in prison clear. While he certainly is guilty of transmitting classified information to an ally, his is the only case of this kind that has resulted in a life sentence. I can’t believe, if the government actually has information to justify the sentence, that it could not be provided in a manner that would be convincing without revealing damaging secrets.

There are at least two other possible reasons for not releasing Pollard that come to mind: either:

  1. Pollard knows something which still, after 27 years, would embarrass the CIA or some other government entity or official; or,
  2. The administration believes that it is absolutely necessary to send a message that Jewish disloyalty will be treated with maximum harshness.

I’m going with number 2.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

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