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June 30, 2016 / 24 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Analysis: Trump Giving Israel a Bad Name with ‘Profiling’ Comment

Monday, June 20th, 2016

“I think profiling is something that we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country,” GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, using Israel as an example for a place where this method is flourishing and yielding results. “You look at Israel and you look at others, and they do it and they do it successfully. And you know, I hate the concept of profiling, but we have to start using common sense,” he said.

Sadly, as Israel is being drawn with increasing frequency into the US presidential elections, with the Democrats using the Israeli-Arab conflict as a battle field between the Sanders and Clinton proxies, bits of prejudice and misinformation about the life and politics of the Jewish State are coming to the fore and, more often than not, spreading more ignorance than knowledge about it.

Donald Trump’s cartoon depiction of Israel’s security forces’ strategies is a case in point. A few years ago, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was elected on a promise to do away with police racial profiling, because it perpetuated decades of abuse when African-Americans and Latinos would be routinely stopped and frisked by police. But predictive profiling, which takes into account multiple elements in an individual’s manner and appearance, is a crucial component of law enforcement work, and it’s much more complex than just skin color and religion.

Not according to the BBC, which informed its listeners on Sunday: “Profiling uses ethnicity, race and religion to determine whether a person has or is likely to commit crimes.”

And, sadly, this is probably what Trump meant when he shared with Face the Nation what he had taken from Israel’s security strategies. In a sense, Trump’s and the BBC’s notions of profiling come down to the store detective who spots a black person coming in and sticks to them expecting that they are more likely than others to shoplift.

If Israel’s security forces had used this yardstick in their approach to predictive profiling it would have choked not just its international airports, but traffic on the streets in many cities, too. If all you need to be in order to trigger security response is dark-skinned or Muslim, three-quarters of Israelis would spend their days and nights in police stations.

Chris Weller, who last year reported in Business Insider about his experience as a foreign, non-Jewish traveler at Ben Gurion airport, noted that “no flight leaving Ben Gurion has ever been hijacked, and the airline servicing Israel, El Al, hasn’t seen an attack in more than 30 years.” And yet, dozens of El Al and other flights leave Ben Gurion every day, and passenger traffic is brisk and efficient.

Israel employs, on the streets of its cities as well as in its airports, an intelligence driven system that relies on good communication, alert operatives, and multi-layered screening. Daniel Wagner, co-author of the book “Global Risk Agility and Decision Making,” cites Raphael Ron, a former director of security at Ben Gurion for 5 years, who said the passenger-oriented security system there is focused on the “human factor,” and is “based on the assumption that terrorist attacks are carried out by people who can be found and have been stopped through the use of this simple but effective security methodology.”

Unlike all US airports, departing passengers in Ben Gurion are not asked to take off their shoes during physical screening processes. Instead, passengers are interviewed by trained agents before they get to the check-in counter. So that the area in front of the check-in is not conceded to potential terrorists, as was the case recently in the Brussels airport attack. The interviews last one or two minutes for the most part, so that the line of passengers is moving quickly, and when the agents (they work in pairs) do suspect someone, based on factors such as vocabulary, general behavior, dress, age, race, religion and destination—they may be detained and questioned for as long as it takes.

But the scrutiny at Ben Gurion begins well ahead of the passenger’s arrival at the terminal itself. Every vehicle first passes through a security checkpoint where armed agents examine it, have a brief exchange with the driver, and assess their risk level. Meanwhile, the vehicle is gauged by a weight sensor, and an undercarriage scan. Then, outside and inside the terminal building agents are always mingling with the crowd pouring in, aided by hidden surveillance cameras that are monitored around the clock. Suspicious people would be challenged without waiting for them to reach a counter or a metal detector. An agent would approach them and strike a conversation to assess their mental state and risk level.

All of that well coordinated system relies on a broader intelligence infrastructure that uses informants, social network scrutiny and surveillance — traditional police methods which Israel’s security forces have been using and improving over the past decade and a half both in green line Israel and in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Chris Weller offered an excellent example for the way Israel combines computer technology with the human factor, to create a smooth, reliable, fast and effective communication system regarding predictive profiling. “I learned that before any passenger ever gives up his luggage to the fine folks at Ben Gurion International, an employee places a neon yellow sticker on the back of your passport. On it is a 10-digit number. The first number, ranging from one to six, indicates your perceived threat level to whomever else you’re passed along. I got a five.”

And so, with a simple bar-coded sticker, the first agent who meets the passenger communicates his impressions to the next agent down the line without having to exchange one word or even a gesture. Leftwing writer Lia Tarachansky complained a few years ago about the same system:

“So I enter the line … My Israeli-Palestinian roommate tells me he’ll wait while I answer the security lady’s questions. She sees I speak Hebrew, she asks if I packed my own bags and she gives me a ‘1’ as expected. I’m white and I’m an Israeli, therefore I’m probably a Zionist. High from excitement and privilege I ask if my friend can come with me to the check-in. She says of course and asks for his ID. Her face changes.

“Where it says the Jewish birth date the line in his ID is blank. i.e. not Jewish. i.e. Palestinian.

– you know this man?

– yes

– how?

– he’s my roommate

– where?

– Jaffa

– wait here.

“She looks at his last name. It’s Christian, i.e. Arab. She disappears with our passports. The roommate looks at me and we both know what’s going to happen. When she comes back her smile is gone. She tears the ‘1’ off my bags and angrily puts on a ‘3’ as though to say ‘you didn’t tell me you have an Arab friend!’ Her face says ‘don’t you see you’re [expletive] it all up for us?!’”

Tarachansky described in her vivid style just how unhappy she was with the Israeli security system, but the fact is that even in her anti-Israeli narrative one can see that no one was hurt in the encounter she described, no one was manhandled, no one even missed their flight. But the system quickly spotted and responded to the potential threat, and the response was to replace a passport sticker. This hostile depiction of the Israeli method is, in fact, a song of praise to a rational, sophisticated and effective security system.

One wonders whether Donald Trump, or the media, understand the full depth of this system when he describes Israel’s success in police work and security as “profiling.”

JNi.Media

Dr. Irving I. Moskowitz, 88

Friday, June 17th, 2016

The Jewish philanthropist, Dr. Irving I. Moskowitz, has passed away at the age of 88.

Dr. Moskowitz was born in New York, in 1928, but grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was the 9th child in a family of 13 children.

After becoming a doctor, he moved to California and began getting involved in managing and buying hospitals, eventually expanding into Bingo clubs. He was last living in Miami, Florida.

In 1968, he founded the Moskowitz Foundation which helps people in need, in the US and all over the world.

Dr. Moskowitz is best known for his generous philanthropy to Israel, often working with Israeli organizations such as Elad and Ateret Cohanim in their work to restore Jewish life in eastern Jerusalem. He also helped establish the Beit El Yeshiva and Arutz-7, and of course the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism which bears his name.

Due to his extensive philanthropic work in building Israel, he has been compared to Montefiore and Rothschild.

Besides eastern Jerusalem, Moskowitz also helped buy land in Gush Ezion, Gush Katif and the Ramat HaGolan.

Dr. Irving Moskowitz is survived by his wife Cherna, 8 children, 42 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

He will be buried on Monday on the Mount of Olives.

Jewish Press News Briefs

More Competition for Israel’s El Al Airlines

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Israel’s national airline is about to have more competition on its Tel Aviv-United States route. United Airlines announced Thursday that it will increase the frequency of its flights between Tel Aviv and San Francisco.

Currently United flies the route three times a week; but on October 8, the airline plans to launch daily flights on Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The new daily Tel Aviv – San Francisco route is bound to attract numerous business commuters and dual citizen immigrants. These passengers often find themselves forced to land in New York and then continue their journey onward with a second flight to the West Coast.

United Airlines Israel managing director Avi Friedman told Globes business news, “The decision to add flights on the San Francisco route was a response to strong demand for the route among consumers during the few months since it was launched.”

Hana Levi Julian

New York Man Arrested for Trying to Support ISIS, Said Beheading Videos ‘Kept Him Motivated’

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

A 22-year-old resident of Bronx, New York has been charged with attempting to provide material support to Da’esh (ISIS) and for making a false statement on a passport application. The suspect, a native of Albania, was caught by undercover FBI agents.

He was indicted Tuesday in Manhattan Federal Court.

Attorney Sylvie Levine told the court that Sajmir Alimehmeti, a plumbing assistant who has studied funeral services, was not dangerous. “In many ways he’s just like any other 22-year-old college-age student,” Levine said, according to the NY Daily News.

But Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein ordered the suspect held without bail, noting his “very strong ties” to his native Albania.

Undercover agents met with Alimehmeti in his Bronx apartment, where he explained that he played a “nasheed,” (music video) of ISIS terrorists decapitating prisoners to “keep him motivated while he is exercising.”

Neighbors told reporters they heard exercising and “weird sounds of things moving around.” The next door neighbor took deliveries for him for nearly a year – usually small packages – never realizing what they contained.

He was allegedly stockpiling weapons, including two steel spike knives, an Air Force survival knife, a ‘credit card sized folding knife” and a “24-inch survival pocket chain saw.” He also purchased a reversible face mask, handcuffs, and gloves with steel knuckles, according to court papers quoted by the NY Daily News.

Sometime within the past two years, Alimehmeti disappeared for a while and when he returned, he was dressed in traditional Muslim clothing. The once-friendly young neighbor began to keep to himself. But although he looked more religious, the local imam said he rarely showed up at the mosque for prayers.

The suspect also went by the nom de guerre of “Abdul Qawii.” He allegedly had jihad and martyrdom files on his computer, as well as a photo of himself with an ISIS flag in the background.

During one of their meetings, Alimehmeti was told by the undercover agent that a second man was already fighting in Syria, and shown pictures to this effect. This prompted the young suspect to ask the agent to “hook up with his connections.” When introduced to a third man, Alimehmeti said he had already saved $2,500 for his own travel, but still needed a passport. He also “needed to see someone” for a passport in a different name, because he was already “in the system,” NY Channel 7 Eyewitness News reported.

He and his brother “had our own plan” to travel from Albania to Raqqa, he said, but he brother had instead been arrested last year in Albania.

When the third man took a call from the passport “facilitator” the suspect asked whether he could “tell the (facilitator) about me, too.”

According to testimony by the agent to prosecutors, as reported by Channel 7, Alimehmeti then said in an excited voice, “I’m ready to go with you, man … you know I would … I’m done with this place. There are kuffar everywhere.” This indicated the suspect wanted to travel overseas to join ISIS, according to the agent. The suspect also wrote down his contact information for the third man to give to the “facilitator.”

Prosecutors told the court that Alimehmeti was denied entry into the UK twice in 2014, at Manchester and at Heathrow airports. The first time he was found to have camouflage and nunchucks in his luggage. The second time images of ISIS flags and IED (improvised explosive device) attacks were found on his laptop. Both times, he was sent back to the United States, and UK officials notified the FBI.

If convicted on the current charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Hana Levi Julian

Mandy Patinkin Berates Late Couple at Benefit Concert

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

“The Princess Bride,” “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Homeland” star Mandy Patinkin, 63, was half an hour into his Lincoln Center benefit concert for the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene Monday night, when a couple arrived to take their seats in the front row, the NY Post reported. To say that Patinkin did not take this with good humor would be like saying the Hindenburg became uncomfortably warm.

“Why are you late?” he barked at the two tardy ones. “You were sending an email? To who?”

The husband, bewildered, said he had been working with a client, which was Patinkin’s cue to go to work on the poor fellow. “This hurts me in my soul,” he said, quickly adding, “You know what would make me feel better? If you donated $25,000 right now.”

Last week, Patinkin told the Wall Street Journal, “I would absolutely say that singing Yiddish music is more powerful than anything else I sing and I can’t explain it because I didn’t grow up hearing it. It’s an unexplained mystery that I’m just thrilled and gratified for.”

Patinkin insisted that he had heard no Yiddish at home, so that loving Yiddish music for him is not nostalgic but a discovery. “I always make a joke that I was raised a Conservative Jew on Chicago’s South Side. If you’re a Conservative Jew in Chicago that makes you a Reform Jew in New York and an Orthodox Jew in California,” he told the WSJ.

Joseph Papp, founder of the Public Theater, introduced Patinkin to Yiddish songs. “He said, ‘You need to learn this music, it’s your job,’” Patinkin recalled. “I sing songs and he felt I needed to carry on this tradition.”

Despite his rage, the late couple did not reach for their checkbook, so, according to the Post, Patinkin ended up bargaining them down to a lighter sum (we dare not use the J word here). When someone in the cheap seats yelled at him to “let it go,” Patinkin responded, “I’m not letting it go! The Yiddish culture means too much to me. Every character I’ve ever played, I’ve played Jewish: Inigo Montoya? Jewish. Che Guevara? Jewish.”

“Except [Homeland’s tortured CIA operative] Saul Berenson,” he confessed, revealing “He’s Roman Catholic.”

He is not, of course.

Then another audience member pledged $5,000, and Patinkin said he would match it, and the show continued.

The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF — the last word in the title means “People’s Stage”), America’s preeminent Yiddish theatre, is the longest continuously-producing Yiddish theatre company in the world and the oldest consecutively-producing performing arts institution in the US.

Founded in 1915, NYTF continues its mission to preserve, promote and develop Yiddish theatre for current and future generations and to enhance the understanding of Yiddish culture as a vital component of Jewish Life. In fact, it is the sole survivor of fifteen Yiddish companies that played to enthusiastic audiences on the Lower East Side in the Golden Age of Yiddish Theatre in the early 20th century. Founded under the aegis of the Workmen’s Circle, the NYTF became an independent nonprofit in 1998.

David Israel

ISIS Hackers Post ‘Hit List’ of US Military Staff, Says ‘Kill Them, Behead Them’

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

The U.S. Pentagon is becoming concerned about the Da’esh (ISIS) terror group hacking activities after the terrorists posted a “hit list” online of 75 U.S. military staff it claims were involved in drone strikes in Syria.

A few days earlier, Da’esh posted the personal details online of more than 3,000 ordinary New Yorkers, along with various threats. The FBI is still visiting the 3,600 New Yorkers on the apparent “hit list” which was apparently intended to instill fear in the U.S. population, but said although people should use caution, there is no reason to be especially afraid.

The group urged its supporters to target those on the list, proclaiming “we want them #Dead.” Most are residents of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, although some live in Staten Island and other surrounding areas.

The Pentagon has expressed concern over the latest list, however: the group allegedly hacked and circulated online the names, home addresses and photographs of American military personnel, including some top staff members.

“Kill them wherever they are, knock on their doors and behead them, stab them, shoot them in the face or bomb them,” urged the ‘Islamic State Hacking Division.’

The hackers also allegedly have a possible mole in the British Ministry of Defense, according to a report in The Sunday Times. The group threatened to publish “secret intelligence” that could in future identify the Royal Air Force (RAF) drone operators.

The “hit list” was published under the ISIS flag, entitled ‘Target – United States Military,’ circulated via Twitter and posted on the JustPaste website.

But according to a report by PTI, the hackers may not have actually “hacked” their information, but rather were smart at researching the information. They “gleaned the names of Reaper and Predator drone operators from news articles and military newsletters, before matching them to addresses, photos and other personal details from publicly available sources on the internet,” the London-based site contends.

The document states: “You crusaders that can only attack the soldiers of the Islamic State with joysticks and consoles, die in your rage! Your military has no courage, neither has your president as he still refuses to send troops. So instead you press buttons thousands of miles away in your feeble attempt to fight us.

“A nation of cowards that holds no bravery as you resort to sending your remote-controlled unmanned Reaper and Predator drones to attack us from the skies. So this is for you, America. These 75 crusaders are posted as targets for our brothers and sisters in America and worldwide to hunt down and kill.”

“In our next leak we may even disclose secret intelligence the Islamic State has just received from a source the brothers in the UK have spent some time acquiring from the Ministry of Defence in London as we slowly and secretly infiltrate England and the USA online and off.”

The bottom of the document features a graphic of a beheaded Statue of Liberty.

Hana Levi Julian

Sanders Condemns ‘Disproportionate’ Israeli Gaza Attacks, Clinton Blames Hamas, Iran ‘Constant Incitement’ [video]

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Hillary and Bernie locked horns, clashed, yelled and smashed into each other almost literally last night in Brooklyn, NY. There were cheap shots and there were deep cuts. It can be safely said that the behavioral gap between the Democratic and Republican debates have narrowed significantly, so neither side can claim the high ground any longer. As to the portion of the debate in which we were most interested, US-Israeli relations, we must agree Hillary made us feel a little safer. Sanders started off from the point of view of B’Tselem and J Street, while Hillary at this point is a little to the right of J Street. After last night’s debate, if you’re a Democrat who cares about Israel, we advise you to buy an industrial size laundry clip, put it on your nose and vote for Bill’s wife. Not because we endorse her, we really really don’t, but she scares us a little less than Bernie does.

And now, to what they actually said last night about how they’d like to finally bring peace to the region…

Blitzer: Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.”

(APPLAUSE)

What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?

Sanders: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.

(APPLAUSE)

But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.

Heckler: Free Palestine!

Sanders: Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

Sanders: And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run — and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

Sanders: So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people.

That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think…

Blitzer: … Thank you, Senator…

Sanders: …to an approach that works in the Middle East.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

Blitzer: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, end its disproportionate responses?

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Clinton: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with…

(APPLAUSE)

Clinton: President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages.

(APPLAUSE)

They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.

So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist tact, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.

(APPLAUSE)

That does not mean — that does not mean that you don’t take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there’s always second guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and…

Blitzer: … Thank you…

Clinton: … just let me finish. The rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the Late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister Barat put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

Blitzer: Thank you, Senator, go ahead — go ahead, Senator.

Sanders: I don’t think that anybody would suggest that Israel invites and welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue.

And, you evaded the answer. You evaded the question. The question is not does Israel have a right to respond, nor does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism. That’s not the debate. Was their response disproportionate?

I believe that it was, you have not answered that.

(CHEERING)

Clinton: I will certainly be willing to answer it. I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible.

(AUDIENCE REACTION)

I’m not saying it’s anything other than terrible. It would be great — remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.

Clinton: And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.

So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.

Blitzer: Thank you, Secretary.

Senator.

Sanders: I read Secretary Clinton’s statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech.

(APPLAUSE)

Sanders: So here is the issue: of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long-term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people.

That is what I believe the world wants to us do and that’s the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise.

Clinton: Well, if I — I want to add, you know, again describing the problem is a lot easier than trying to solve it. And I have been involved, both as first lady with my husband’s efforts, as a senator supporting the efforts that even the Bush administration was undertaking, and as secretary of state for President Obama, I’m the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel.

There were only four of us in the room, Netanyahu, Abbas, George Mitchell, and me. Three long meetings. And I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.

I was absolutely focused on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.

(APPLAUSE)

Blitzer: A final word, Senator, go ahead.

Sanders: There comes a time — there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.

(APPLAUSE)

Clinton: Well…

Blitzer: Secretary.

Clinton: … you know, I have spoken about and written at some length the very candid conversations I’ve had with him and other Israeli leaders. Nobody is saying that any individual leader is always right, but it is a difficult position.

If you are from whatever perspective trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist, that is a very difficult challenge.

Blitzer: Senator, go ahead.

Sanders: You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. And I think, again, it is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Clinton and others, Jimmy Carter and others have tried to do the right thing.

All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.

Blitzer: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Secretary.

David Israel

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