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Showcase ‘Price Tag’ Indictments Turn Out to Be a Witch Hunt

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

A Jerusalem court has thrown out “showcase” indictments against three supposed “price tag” vandals and has hung another black cloud over the police and the office of the Attorney General, all of whom appear to be on a witch hunt.

The latest black eye for government prosecutors was dealt by Jerusalem Court Judge Avital Chen, who ruled there was no basis for charges that three youth from Samaria were planning to carry out some sort of attack  on Arab property.

The rejection of the government case came only a short time after a three-judge Jerusalem court unanimously ruled against the government’s charges of breach of public trust against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has been hounded on various charges for more than a decade.

Many rightwing leaders have charged that dozens of police arrests of supposed price tag vandals are an attempt to blame innocent people for crimes that they say are being carried out by Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) agents trying to make the nationalist movement look illegitimate.

Considering the increasing number and severity of price tag vandalism, the accusations against the Shin Bet sound like self-righteous paranoia.

On the other hand, leftwing activists have accused government prosecutors of purposely treating price tag vandals with soft gloves and failing to convict even one of them over the past three years. Given the proven cases of Arabs damaging their own olive orchards and then blaming Jews, it is not impossible to believe that the Palestinian Authority has ordered the “price tag” operations.

The indictments that were thrown out by the Jerusalem court are the first ones ever to be filed against supposed price tag vandals.

Three young Jewish boys were arrested in September 2011 while they were carrying tools, approximately 300 feet from a vehicle that was not theirs but in which police found bottles of gasoline. Police rejects the youth’s claims that they were using the tools for renovations on a nearby structure.

The police put one and one together and came up with what they thought was two. Government prosecutors at the office of the Attorney General also thought they had done their math and put together their first indictments that were supposed to show that they finally had the goods on price tag culprits.

The court also did its math and flunked the police and prosecutors.

Michael Ironi, a lawyer for the legal aid Honenu organization, said after the court decision, “It is a shame that the Attorney General’s office chose to conduct a trial against the defendants. From the beginning of the case the evidence seemed weak and circumstantial. The suffering caused to the defendants is also regrettable.”

Honenu attorney Rehavia Piltz, who assisted in handling the case, stated, “Even from the beginning it was obvious that much ado was being made out of nothing and now the court has confirmed. It is unfortunate that in the process leading to their exoneration the rights of innocent youths were severely injured over a long period of time.”

The chase after Lieberman and dozens of alleged price tag vandals, despite being unsuccessful, also has a price tag.

“For over two years our lives have been a nightmare,” said one of the youth who finally was exonerated.

“They kept us in remand under severe conditions and falsely accused us of serious crimes,” he added. “If we had not had a religious appearance and the police and the Attorney General’s office had not been so eager to achieve ‘accomplishments’ at the expense of tarnishing the reputation of an entire population, we would not have gone through such a difficult, tortuous legal battle over something we never did.”

Police arrested two of the youth shortly before the Rosh HaShanah holiday in 2011 and convinced the court to extend their remand on the eve of the holiday. The third youth was charged the day after the holiday.

The name of “hilltop youth” in Judea and Samaria  has been muddied with accusations that have never been backed up with indictments, until the “showcase” charges that proved to be unfounded.

Every time a nationalist looks the wrong way at the police or says a bad word about Peace Now, leftwing leaders and media scream “Rabin,”  continuing 18 years of slander against all national religious Jews, and particularly their rabbis, for the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin by Yigal Amir, who lived in metropolitan Tel Aviv and not in Judea and Samaria.

It is no secret that Shin Bet agents infiltrate into communities in Judea and Samaria to incite youth to break the law and then fall prey to being informers to save themselves from prosecution.

It is hard to believe the rightwing claims that Shin Bet agents have carried out all of the price tag attacks to undermine the nationalist movement.

But it also is hard to believe that police continue to harass youth, often with middle-of-the-night arrests, and prosecutors cannot come up with even one indictment that holds any water.

The only missing key in the puzzle is the failure of most national religious leaders to conduct a campaign in their communities and yeshivas to preach against violence and anti-Arab vandalism.

If Jews indeed are guilty of the vandalism and if the police and prosecutors cannot do a better job than they did after investing thousands of hours to nail Lieberman for nothing, something is rotten in the office of the Attorney General.

After Mayoral Loss, the Buzzards Are Flying over Lieberman’s Head

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

The old adage suggesting that victory has a multitude of fathers, while failure, alas, is an orphan, can be applied yet again, this time to describe the grim aftermath in Shas following the heartbreaking loss of the Avigdor Lieberman-Aryeh Deri candidate for mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion (the name should be spelled “Leon,” but the campaign opted for this, more feline spelling).

So the bad guy in this story of glory and defeat is Israel Beiteinu strong man MK Avigdor Lieberman, soon to be either the previous and next Foreign Minister, or the next man with a serial number at the Ma’asiahu prison for white collar criminals—court decision on that one expected in two weeks.

But for now, Lieberman appears to be shouldering the shame of the mayoral loss, with attacks on him coming both from sore losers and sore winners. Yes, the winning incumbent, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat now and for the next 5 years, is not doing the gracious. not even pretending.

“Lieberman is a dishonest man, a fixer who wanted to turn me into a marionette and couldn’t,” Barkat told Ma’ariv.

According to the winner, Lieberman made it his life’s mission to destroy him, Barkat, who, apparently, remained pure as the driven Jerusalem snow: “I could have made a deal and appoint Vladimir Sklar CEO of the East Jerusalem Development corporation the way Lieberman insisted, and then I would have gotten wall-to-wall support,” he said. “I refused. I took a chance and paid a heavy price.”

In Israel, it seems, to the winner goes being spoiled.

MK Lieberman for his part has been denying the Sklar appointment story, arguing instead that in his feverish yearning to win, Barkat has sold the city out to the Haredim—specifically, former Haredi mayoral candidate Chayim Epstein has been saying he’s being appointed Barkat’s deputy mayor, with pay.

The nice appointment is considered to be his reward for keeping his name on the ballot even as it was becoming obvious he was going nowhere—and with that helped siphon off some of Lion’s Haredi votes. It’s a good theory.

But the worst thing for Lieberman was not the spectacle of the winner Barkat doing a victory dance in a fashion that would not go well over in the States, where the first thing a loser does is congratulate the winner, to be followed by the winner complimenting the loser. Over in the Jewish State, we win, we fillet the loser, fire up the barbie, have a beer.

The worst thing for Lieberman is how his own campaign has been badmouthing him. Ma’arive quotes Likud-beiteinu campaign workers who said “Lieberman pulled the rug from under all of us… He couldn’t deliver the goods… He didn’t deliver the Likudniks, and he especially didn’t deliver the Russians he promised… All the Israel Beiteinu voters in Jerusalem supported Nir Barkat… Israel Beiteinu used to have 2 seats in the city council – that’s now been erased… Even when combining the Liebrman and Likud votes, they barely make it past the blocking percentage…”

Finally, senior Aryeh Deri operatives put all the blame on Lieberman. The rift between Deri and Lieberman is serious. Last week, Deri told his listeners on Haredi radio station Kol Barama that they had to vote in large numbers, to secure a Shas-Lieberman partnership. Now, after the defeat, Deri told those same listeners that they lived up to his expectations—they awarded 35 thousand votes to Moshe Lion, but on the Likud-Beiteinu side the failure was overwhelming.

Deri’s seniors are angry at Lieberman, but they’re livid at Deri himself for falling prey to Lieberman’s machinations. It was a known thing that Lieberman could round up 10 thousand Russians in Jerusalem – that’s the number that voted for his faction in 2008. So how come all the Russians went for Barkat? Was Deri being naïve when he figured Lieberman for a solid real estate asset, when, in fact, that asset is infested with termites and about to fall on its own foundations?

Lieberman had nothing to tell his followers and the press other than his own version of you win some, you lose some. If he’s taken down by the court two weeks from now, it would mark a sea change in Israeli politics, an earthquake that could empower the right or the left, depending on whom you ask.

Israel’s Supermodel Bar Rafaeli Wins $113,000 in Samsung Lawsuit

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Even Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli has a right to privacy, and even Samsung does not have the right to invade it, a Tel Aviv court ruled Wednesday in a decision that will cost Samsung nearly $160,000.

Samsung’s Israeli importer Suny Electronics went ahead and used online broadcasts of her in its advertising campaign in 2006 but without her knowledge.

She sued for violations of her rights of privacy. It’s one thing to go on the air, but it is another matter to take the conversation and use it for a commercial campaign without a person’s knowledge, let alone permission.

Samsung decided to go head-to-head and battle it out in the court and even sued Bar Rafaeli for libel for writing to Samsung’s office in Korea about the misuse.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge Avi Zamir decided in her favor and ordered Samsung to fork over $113,400 to Bar Rafaeli  plus another $42,000 to cover court costs.

He threw out the libel suit but also dismissed the supermodel’s claim for personal damages from a market consultant, Globes reported.

“The image of models, their voices, bodies, and names are their personal assets, and no one has the right to use them for commercial purposes without their consent and without compensation,” Judge Zamir ruled.

He added, “These assets have the right to be protected. Every model, male or female, even if they chose to reveal themselves in an advertisement, even the broadest and most exposing, in any media, has the right not to have use made of these private assets beyond what was agreed, and without their explicit consent.

“Even deviations from existing agreements over the extent of the permitted use of these assets, damage them, damage that justifies financial compensation.”

Considering that Bar Rafaeli is a good sell for anything from apples to zebras, Samsung may have gotten more than its money’s worth for the free use of her conversations.

Landmark Court Ruling to Flood Tel Aviv with African Immigrants

Monday, September 16th, 2013

A unanimous and landmark Supreme Court ruling on Monday struck down a Knesset amendment to a law and declared that detaining African infiltrators  for three years without trial violates their human rights.

The effect of the decision is that nearly 2,000 illegal Africans will be able to leave their Negev prison in 90 days and move freely in Israel, most likely to southern Tel Aviv – unless the government decides to deport them.

Within the 90-day period, the government can determine if the illegal immigrants are entitled to be recognized as those seeking asylum or simply left their home countries to seek a better standard of living, in which case they can be sent home.

The amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Law violates what is known is Israel as the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty, a concept that the High Court has exploited for several years to allow it to dictate policies that often are the opposite from what the Knesset had legislated.

The unanimity in the 9-0 ruling, including  new Court President Asher Grunis who is viewed as being far away from the left-wing “bleeding heart” camp, underlined the conclusion that the amendment unquestionably violates human rights, despite the problems is poses to the country, as several justices noted.

However, Justice Grunis indicated that a shorter detention period would not be questioned by the court.

Justice Edna Arbel, who has sided dozens of times with “activists” and often against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, admitted that the decision “will not be easy” for the public to swallow.

She also concede that the decision will be a difficult blow for south Tel Aviv, whose residents have suffered a higher crime rate along with the flood of approximately 50,000 African infiltrators into the relatively poor neighborhood.

“Their cries are in our hearts; their pain is our pain,” she wrote, but Likud Knesset Member and Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev reacted, “There are judges in Jerusalem, but the pain is in south Tel Aviv.” She added, “The High Court has sentenced the residents of south Tel Aviv to living in fear and has given infiltration a green light.”

But she agreed that the Knesset’s solution of simply throwing people into detention facilities for three years, without charges, is not a solution.

Even veteran MK Reuven Rivlin, former Speaker of the Knesset and who has often defended the legislature against High Court intervention, admitted that the Knesset has to be more careful in its legislation.

Minister of Interior Gideon Sa’ar said that Monday’s ruling makes it more difficult for Israel to deal with illegal infiltration.

To a large extent, the government is to blame for the situation. It ignored years of warnings that the daily flood of illegal immigrants was destroying Jewish life in Arad and Dimona, in the northern Negev, where the immigrants descended from further south.

It was only after tens of thousands of infiltrators inundated Tel Aviv that the government began to move, literally locking the gates at the border after the illegals had crossed into the country.

In virtually every democratic country, foreigners are not allowed to  enter without valid documents unless they are seeking asylum.

Egypt often solved the problem by simply killing them. Israel simply turned a blind eye until Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in the previous government, ordered that a fence be built along the Egyptian-Israeli border. The result has been a near-zero rate of infiltration. Simultaneously, the government decided to do something with those already in the country and deported thousands who were not validated as seekers of asylum, mainly from Sudan.

Leftists, many of whom back any effort that will reduce the Jewish majority and the influence of the growing  religious minority in the country, challenged many attempted deportations.

They conducted a “Save the Children” campaign, playing on emotional heartstrings by protesting against deporting children who, at the country’s expense, already were being educated in Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after the ruling, “Alongside honoring the decision of the High Court of Justice, I, in cooperation with the Interior Minister and the Attorney General, intend to find ways that are in keeping with the decision and which will allow the implementation of our determined policy which has blocked illegal migration and has already repatriated thousands of illegal migrants.”

France: “Secularism Charter” in Every School

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

“Nothing could be worse than posting a secularism charter on the wall and then the students see around them that what actually happens in school life is the exact opposite of what we tell them.” — Philippe Tournier, Secretary General, French Teachers Union.

The French government has announced a plan to post a “secularism charter” in all public schools in France by the end of September.

The document — which is to appear in a prominent location in all of the 55,000 public schools in France — would serve to remind students and teachers of a list of secular principles underpinning the separation of mosque and state.

Although the initiative has enjoyed a generally positive reception, many observers are saying they doubt the Socialist government of French President François Hollande will have the political willpower actually to enforce secular principles in French schools — with or without a charter.

This skepticism stems from the fact that Muslim children constitute an increasingly large proportion of the 10 million students in the French public school system — and because Muslim parents make up an increasingly important voting bloc in French politics. Muslims, in fact, cast the deciding vote that thrust Hollande into the Elysée Palace in May 2012.

French Education Minister Vincent Peillon, who announced the plan in an interview with the French daily newspaper L’Est Républicain on August 26, said, “Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not to dispute lessons or to skip classes [for religious reasons]. The charter will be a reminder of [secular] principles. It will be posted in all schools in late September. The law provides for a moral and civic education that promotes freedom from judgment, the capacity to emancipate, and rights and duties. I want to see the return of those values of the [French] Republic in schools in 2013.”

Although the final content of the charter will not be made public until the middle of September, a draft of the list which contains a total of 17 paragraphs has been circulating since July 11.

The first section of the draft list is entitled “The Republic is Secular,” and consists of six rather straightforward paragraphs that mostly echo the French Constitution. Paragraph 2 of the draft, for example, states that, “France is a republic that is indivisible, secular, democratic and social. It ensures equality before the law, on the whole of its territory, for all citizens. It respects all creeds.”

According to Paragraph 3, “The secular Republic is based upon the separation of religion and state. The state is neutral with regard to religious or spiritual beliefs. There is no state religion.” Paragraph 4 states that “Secularism guarantees freedom of conscience for all. Everyone is free to believe or not to believe. It allows the free expression of his beliefs, respecting those of others within the limits of public order.” And so on.

The second section of the list, entitled “The School is Secular,” changes tack by directly confronting Muslim students who take to disrupting classes whenever they do not agree with their teachers on certain subjects.

Paragraph 14 states: “Lessons are secular. To ensure that students are as objectively open as possible to the diversity of worldviews as well as to the extent and accuracy of knowledge, no subject is a priori excluded from scientific and educational inquiry.”

According to Paragraph 15, “No student may invoke religious or political convictions to challenge and/or to prevent a teacher from teaching certain parts of the curriculum.” Paragraph 16 states that “the wearing of conspicuous symbols or dress by pupils as relates to their religious affiliation is prohibited in public schools.”

The draft charter also states that “the secular school offers students the conditions to forge their own personality, exercise their free will and learn about citizenship. It protects them from proselytizing and from any pressure that prevents them from making their own choices.”

Reactions to the announcement have been mixed, with some questioning if or how the measure will be enforced.

The Secretary General of the French Teachers Union, Philippe Tournier, told Radio Europe 1 that while he welcomed the secularism charter in principle, he worried about its implementation. “The intentions are quite positive, but the essential thing still remains: putting into force what [the charter] affirms,” he said. “Nothing could be worse than posting a secularism charter on the wall, and then the students see around them that what actually happens in school life is the exact opposite of what we tell them.”

Women of the Wall Protesting Bennett’s High Holidays Plan

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday his support for the Mendelblit plan, drawn by the Prime Minister’s Office’s committee charged with the task of solving the problem of “inequality” at the Western Wall.

The committee is promoting a solution that utilizes a wooden balcony which has been built on scaffolding in the middle of Robinson’s Arch, near the Western Wall. The new section will permit mixed prayers of men and women and will be dubbed “Israel section.”

Women of the Wall are complaining that the plan will “effectively exile women and all Jews who pray in a way that is not ultra-Orthodox tradition to Robinson’s Arch and away from the area of the Western Wall where Jews have prayed for generations.”

According to WOW, should the new plan be executed, the government will be excluding more 50% of Jewish population to the “back of the bus.”

That’s a bit of a stretch, of course, since the majority of Israeli women feel quite comfortable in the women’s section – on those rare occasions when they show up at prayer services.

The new mixed prayer area outside the Kotel plaza in Jerusalem. Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The new mixed prayer area outside the Kotel plaza in Jerusalem. Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

“Women of the Wall rejects the Mendelblit plan which dangerously circumvents the pluralist Sobel Disctrict Court decision,” WOW declared on Sunday. “We are at a crossroads for religious freedom and freedom of expression in Israel. Today this affects Women of the Wall but tomorrow it will affect every Israeli and Jew around the world. What has been proven today is that the bullies were victorious—with their assault, spitting and cursing at women. Mendelblit and Bennett have given in to the threats and violence of the Haredi extremist minority in Israel and this is a dangerous precedent for our democracy.”

WOW complain that, according to the proposed plan, the wooden stage erected at the center of the archaeological visitor’s center “is concerning only mixed prayer, and therefore does not provide a solution for Women of the Wall, a mixed women’s prayer section.”

An email they sent out Sunday contends that “The plan leaves control over the entire area in the hands of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, an organization run by a vast majority ultra-Orthodox men. The stage is in no way equal topographically or geographically to the original plaza, nor does it come close to the Wall itself, as it stands to the back of the Robinson’s Arch area. This plan is the very definition of separate, and not nearly close to equal, it provides an out of sight- out of mind solution silencing women at the Western Wall.”

The argument is strangely familiar, reminiscent of Jewish complaints about how the Jordanian Waqf has been controlling the Temple Mount – but any attempt to solicit from WOW an expression of empathy for Jews on the Mount have been met with staunch denial of similarity…

When all else is lost, WOW are appealing to the one true supporter they have in the current government – you guessed it:

“We call upon Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni to reject this plan, to demand equal rights for women to pray at the women’s section of the Western Wall. Women of the Wall is calling for a 24 hour sit-in at the Western Wall in the hopes that the government will reject this plan and support the District Court Decision in which all women can pray freely at the Western Wall.”

French Court Acquits Boycott Activists of Hate Crime

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

A French court has acquitted three activists charged with discrimination and hate crimes for calling for a boycott of Israeli products in 2010, the France 3 television station reported.

The activists, Bernard Cholet, Jeanne Rousseau and Yamina Tadjeur, made the calls during a protest at a shopping center in the southern city and were charged following a complaint from the BNVCA anti-Semitism group.

The group to which the activists belong, Collectif 66 Peace and Justice in Palestine, supports a blanket boycott of all Israeli products as well as a “boycott only of products from Israeli colonies [in the Judea and Samaria],” according to a statement from 2011. Prosecutors had said that even if the call were discriminatory, there was no evidence it was an incitement to hatred or violence, as stated in the original indictment.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/french-court-acquits-boycott-activists-of-hate-crime/2013/08/18/

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