web analytics
October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘prison’

Religious Groups Move to Protect Prisoner Rights

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

A coalition of Orthodox Jewish groups filed friend of the court briefs in two high-profile cases involving religious practice in prisons.

On May 28 the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs  filed a brief in the Atlanta-based federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the matter of access to kosher meals in the Florida prison system and on May 29 in the U.S. Supreme Court which in its session beginning in October will consider the case of a Muslim prisoner in Arkansas who wants to grow his beard longer than the state’s regulation one-quarter inch.

The Florida case dates to 2010 when a Jewish prisoner serving life for the 1995 murder of his parents, Bruce Rich, said the state’s refusal to provide him with a kosher meal violated his rights under federal law.

The Obama administration joined the case in support of Rich in 2012 and last December a federal court ruled that the Florida Department of Corrections had until July 1 to begin distributing kosher meals.

The state at first agreed, but then recently launched an appeal, saying it was swamped with requests for kosher meals and that acceding to the demand would be prohibitive.

Many of the prisoners requesting kosher meals are believed to be feigning adherence to observant Judaism, and assessing who is genuine and who is not is seen as constitutionally perilous for a government authority.

Prisoners prefer the meals because they are sealed and are seen as better quality. Feeding a prisoner costs $1.52 a day with regular meals and over $4 a day with kosher meals.

Prison officials said they had expected about 300 requests and instead got over 4,400 and expected the number to balloon after the meals start being distributed.

In the Commission on Law’s brief, attorney Nathan Lewin said that it would be unjust to deny truly observant prisoners kosher meals because of the fraudulent claims of others.

In the Arkansas case, the coalition was filing in support of Gregory Holt, a Muslim who says his observance requires him to grow out his beard.

In the brief, Lewin notes that 39 other jurisdictions permit beards of any length, which he says is constitutionally protected.

Lewin, a member of the Supreme Court bar, in the brief cites the precedent of observant Jews in the military who successfully sued to keep their beards.

In a release, Lewin’s office noted that his briefs “cited and discussed traditional Jewish sources such as Maimonides, the Chofetz Chaim, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe.”

Among the groups making up the coalition are Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Union, the National Council of Young Israel and the Rabbinical Council of America.

FBI ‘Wanted’ Hezbollah Commander Killed in Syria

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

A guerrilla commander in the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist organization, an Iranian proxy group, was killed Monday in Syria fighting rebels for President Bashar al-Assad.

The death of Fawzi Ayoub in the southern Syrian town of Nawa, located in the province of Dera’a, was confirmed by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Ayoub is listed on the FBI’s “most wanted” list for attempting to carry out a bombing attack in Israel. A veteran of the Jewish State’s prison system, Ayoub spent four years in jail (2000-2004) before he was freed as part of an early-release deal for a prisoner swap, sources told the Al Arabiya website Tuesday.

Although he was a resident of the southern Lebanese village of Ein Qa’ana, Ayoub also held Canadian citizenship and lived in the United States as well.

Former PM Ehud Olmert Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced Tuesday morning to serve six years in prison. The judge also imposed a fine of NIS 1 million ($289,000.)  He ordered authorities to seize NIS 500,000 in funds the former prime minister has collected from various sources, including numerous speaking engagements in the United States.

Olmert was ordered to begin serving his prison sentence on September 1, pending appeal.

Tel Aviv District Court Judge David Rosen handed down the sentence in what has become known as the famed “Holyland trial” after Olmert was convicted on two charges of bribery.

The former prime minister was convicted of taking bribes from contractors who built the Holyland residential complex near the Malha Mall in Jerusalem.

The rezoning and other “adjustments” that came in exchange for bribes continued through the 1990s and into the next decade. These were the years in which Olmert served as mayor of the capital city and minister of industry, trade and infrastructure. Both were pivotal posts from which to smooth the way for the developers of the Holyland project.

Olmert was also recently questioned on suspicion of witness tampering and obstruction of justice, according to Israel’s Channel 2 television. The allegations are based on recordings given to police by former Olmert aide Shula Zaken, his closest aide, also convicted in the wide-ranging Holyland scandal. Zaken gave police the recordings as part of her plea bargain with the prosecution.

The Holyland trial has dragged on for years, tainting Olmert’s term as prime minister and shadowing the country’s years beyond while bringing down numerous aides and colleagues.

Before pronouncing sentence, the judge pointed out that Olmert is an “intelligent, brilliant people person” and called him an “avid Zionist.” He praised him for donating to bereaved families and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center.

But he then sharply reprimanded the former state leader, saying “The crime of bribery pollutes public service, destroys governments…” and called it “one of the worst crimes.”

Rosen said Olmert was guilty of moral turpitude — a term that means the ex-politican will be forced to wait at least seven years before re-entering the field. The judge added that those who take bribes are equivalent to “traitors” in their betrayal of the public trust.

To punish that betrayal, the judge revoked the 10 percent of Olmert’s mayoral pension.

Olmert has been convicted previously charges of corruption. In 2012, he was pronounced guilty of taking bribes in a Jerusalem case.

That trial earned the former mayor and subsequent minister and prime minister a light sentence of community service only. The judge in the case said in his decision that Olmert’s state leadership as prime minister had afforded him the right to leniency.

Not so today, however.  Judge Rosen said in his decision that the higher the post of the public servant, the harsher the punishment for bribery should be.

“Those who belong to the social and economic elite of the nation should not be held to the same standard as those in common society,” Rosen said. He added in explanation that his hands were tied by law in meting out the punishment, and that he was enjoined by those legal guidelines to set a minimum sentence without discretion.

Olmert issued a statement prior to sentencing saying that he was innocent and protesting an expected sentence that included prison time.

“This is a sad day on which a severe and unjust verdict is to be handed down to an innocent man,” Olmert said in his statement.

He has 45 days to appeal in Supreme Court – which he plans to do,, said Olmert spokesperson Amir Dan. He added that he hopes “the real picture will emerge and the verdict will change completely.”

To the eternal shame of the State of Israel, this is the first time in the history of the nation that a prime minister has been convicted of a felony and sent to prison. Likewise, former president Moshe Katsav is currently serving time in prison for having raped and sexually assaulted his female employees.

Olmert will appeal the conviction and sentence in the Supreme Court, spokesperson Amir Dan said. His attorney Eli Zohar is expected to file a request for a stay of sentence in the meantime.

US Lawmakers Meet with Cuba’s American Jewish Prisoner, Alan Gross

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Four U.S. lawmakers met in Cuba on Monday with imprisoned American Jewish hostage Alan Gross. The legislators visited the jailed social worker at a prison hospital due to his medical condition, which is precarious.

Gross was arrested in December 2009 while visiting Cuba to provide internet access for the Jewish community there. According to a report posted by the Havana Times he was employed at the time by Development Alternatives, Inc., and contracted by USAID, an American government agency.

Gross was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison for “crimes against the integrity of the State.” Cuban authorities said he was caught “carrying sophisticated telecommunications equipment prohibited on the island, working for a well-funded, secret USAID program designed to topple the Cuban government.”

Speaking to reporters in Havana following their visit, delegation leader U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee said in a brief statement, “It is in the interests of both our countries to start negotiations, not just talks. It is time for both countries to make a serious commitment to enter into negotiations without preconditions.”

For years, Cuban leader Raul Castro has been trying to persuade the Obama White House to enter negotiations to free the “Cuban Five” — spies who were caught and jailed for espionage in the United States in 1998. Two have already been released, having served their terms. One is serving a double life sentence. President Barack Obama has reportedly shown no inclination to discuss the matter with Cuban officials, and no apparent interest in a swap deal for Alan Gross.

(Likewise Obama has had no interest in discussing a deal to commute the sentence of American-Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to time served. After having agreed to a plea bargain, Pollard was nevertheless sent to prison on a life term in 1987 on a single count of passing information to an ally. Often jailed under harsh conditions at the prison where he is held in North Carolina he is presently in extremely frail health. Hundreds of appeals to U.S. presidents through the decades have left all unmoved — including Obama, who has been approached by the current Israeli government.)

U.S. Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Emanuel Clever (D-MI) also took part in the delegation to Cuba. They met with Alan Gross for 90 minutes, according to the report. The delegation reportedly then met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

There have been no diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana in more than half a century. But Gross, age 65, has vowed that by the end of this year, he is determined to return home to the United States, either “dead or alive.”

Madoff Recovering from Heart Attack

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Bernard Madoff suffered a heart attack in prison last month and was hospitalized, CNBC revealed Wednesday after receiving an email from the 75-year-old Ponzi scheme rip-off artist. Madoff also is suffering from stage four kidney disease.

He former stockbroker wrote that he spent most of last month in the Duke University Medical Center and that he now is back in his Butner, N.C. prison, where he was sentenced to 150 years.

Madoff victim Norma Hill, 73, who had $2 million stolen from her, told the New York Daily News on Wednesday. “I don’t wish any ill on people. . . . I don’t like to hear of anybody being sick. But I don’t have any real sympathy for him.”

His wife Sondra, 80, was quoted as saying, “I care as much about him as he cared about us.”

Alan Gross Meets with Cuban Jewish Leaders

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Cuban Jewish leaders met with imprisoned Jewish-American contractor on the last day of Hanukkah, two days after Gross marked his fourth year in jail in Cuba.

“During the encounter we could see that he was in better spirits, more physically recovered,” according to a statement from the Beth Shalom Temple in Havana according to the Associated Press. The Cuban Jewish leaders have met with Gross for other Jewish holidays throughout his imprisonment.

Gross, 64, a subcontractor for the State Department on a mission to hook up Cuba’s small Jewish community to the Internet, was arrested in December 2009 as he was leaving Cuba. The Maryland resident is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”.

Gross says he has lost 100 pounds since his imprisonment and suffers from painful arthritis. He reportedly leaves his shared cell once a day for one hour. In a letter sent last week, Gross asked President Obama to personally help secure his release. The Cuban government has indicated that it wants the United States to allow the return to Cuba of five spies in prison or on probation in the U.S. in return for negotiations on Gross.

Israel Sanctions Palestinian Terror Coordinated by Prisoners

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

At the Bat Yam restaurant where Nidal Amar worked, they claimed not to have known that their employee, who ultimately abducted and murdered IDF soldier Tomer Hazan, was an illegal migrant. That defense, though, wasn’t enough to spare them some angry demonstrations.

Yet those demonstrations should have targeted Yitzhak Aharonovich, the minister in charge of the Israel Prison Service, or else Prime Minister Netanyahu, who oversees the ISA.

Nidal, you see, had paid a visit to his brother Nur a-Din in jail. There, speaking freely, the brothers coordinated the abduction. According to the indictment, Nur al-Din Amar, who in 2003 was imprisoned in Hadarim Prison for planning and participating in terrorist attacks, told his brother during that meeting: “I want Gilad Schalit II. Kidnap an IDF soldier, and if you need to, kill him—just get me out.”

Why didn’t the IPS monitor that conversation?

How is it possible that such a friendly meet-up—resulting in the briefing and dispatch of terrorists on a mission to murder—took place in the middle of a prison? And why didn’t the IPS pick up on the message sent via Best Wishes and a Song, a PA television program dedicated to terrorists in jail? It’s no secret that a good part of those “best wishes” are actually coded references to illicit activity. In this instance, the chilling news was delivered with the words, “The family is fine, and the calf will soon be caged.”

A SCANDALOUS DOCUMENT

This week, while studying the website of the ISA, Almagor researcher Eliyahu Nissim unearthed a scandalous document: an official agreement between the state and imprisoned terrorist leaders, signed at the conclusion of a brief, system-wide hunger strike.

To be clear: this is an official document on a government website in which terrorists—“security prisoners”—receive official recognition from the State of Israel. No longer are they murderers and criminals to be prevented from forming organized groups. Now they are a group of POWs from an enemy army, led by their commanders, to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. Instead of being treated as common criminals (or worse), they receive autonomy within the prison walls and easements that those imprisoned on criminal charges do not enjoy.

True, the agreement includes an absolute commitment by the prisoners to cease any and all terrorist activity occurring within Israeli jails. But that commitment didn’t help Tomer Hazan when he was strangled to death.

The agreement goes on to stipulate clearly that it would be null and void were any terrorist attacks to be directed from jail. Yet despite the murder of Tomer Hazan, the easements stand: visitation, time spent in the company of other terrorists, social and cultural activities.

Clearly the Netanyahu government, which specializes in freeing terrorists from jail, simply gave in to the imprisoned terrorists instead of breaking their hunger strike.

IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE THIS WAY

Israel didn’t always fold and surrender when confronted by jailed terrorists. In August 2004, terrorists in Israeli jails, including famous ones such as Barghouti, initiated a comprehensive hunger strike. They understood from experience that they could defeat Israeli decision-makers by staging such a strike and manipulating public opinion and the media. Two times prior to that, in 1987 and 1992, hunger strikes had ended with improved conditions and far-reaching easements.

What the terrorists did not understand is that there now were different officials in charge, first and foremost Yaakov Ganot, a man of action and himself a terror victim, who had begun to impose order.

The new arrangements he had put in place didn’t suit the terrorists. They demanded, for instance, that their confiscated cell phones be returned to them. (The IPS and ISA, which knew precisely what they did with those phones, opposed the demand.) Ganot also began restricting the access of the lawyers who would come for daily visits with their imprisoned clients, with many serving as couriers to the terrorist organizations outside the prison walls.

Against that backdrop, Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, a bereaved father and Almagor activist, was invited to attend a secret meeting with senior security officers. They asked him to pressure officials in the administration and the Knesset, and to mount a media campaign.

By the next day, we had been granted a meeting with IPS Commissioner Ganot. We arrived at the meeting accompanied by a number of bereaved mothers, and presented our demand: not to give in to the terrorists. Ganot teared up and, with obvious emotion, summoned to the meeting all the senior officers on the floor. As a commander, he understood that they needed the bereaved parents’ support, a shot of motivation to hold fast against their adversaries.

The IPS proceeded to go about its work with decisiveness and daring, coming up with new, creative ideas to solve problems. Hidden cameras caught Barghouti voraciously breaking his hunger strike in his cell. Other security prisoners, who had worked hard to convince their friends to do without food, also gave in to hunger and had what to eat.

The strike came to an end. The terrorists gained nothing.

Today, though, when the Palestinians shrewdly manipulate the media and the legal system in the best tradition of their terrorist organizations, Israeli officialdom prefers simply to surrender.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/israel-sanctions-palestinian-terror-coordinated-by-prisoners/2013/12/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: