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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘prison’

PA Hunger Striker to be Freed in March, but Protests Continue

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

A Palestinian Authority prisoner on a long-term hunger strike in an Israeli jail will be released in March, but violent protests continued Thursday near the Ofer Prison, on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Samer Issawi was sentenced to eight months in prison for violating the terms of his release under the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap, and he will be eligible for release March 6.

He has become a cause célèbre for Palestinian Authority Arabs, 1,000 of whom rioted on Thursday near Ofer prison where he is being held. They injured two journalists with rocks, and security forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets, wounding about 29 people.

Issawi has been on a hunger strike for more than 200 days and is reportedly to be near death, although Israeli officials are doing everything possible to keep him alive. His death would turn him into a “martyr” and would set off a wildly violent reaction.

Jews in Washington Launch Fund to Help Gross and other Jailed Jews

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington established a legal defense fund for Jews being held wrongfully because of their Jewishness and will assist Alan Gross, who is in prison in Cuba.

Financial contributions will be used to help cover the legal defense of Jews in the United States and throughout the world who the council believes have been wrongfully charged or imprisoned.

Funds also will be used to cover costs associated with advocating for the prisoners.

The council cited the Jewish value of Pidyon Shvuyim, or redeeming the captive, in a statement announcing the new fund.

The tax-deductible charitable contributions cannot be earmarked for a particular person.

The first funds will be used to help Gross, who has been jailed in Cuba since December 2009 and is serving a 15-year sentence for “crimes against the state.”

According to the Gross family and the U.S. State Department, the Maryland man was in Cuba on a U.S. Agency for International Development contract to help connect the country’s 1,500-strong Jewish community with other Jewish communities via the Internet.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington has been advocating on Gross’ behalf, organizing vigils and spearheading legislation to help free Gross.

A U.S. congressional delegation this week arrived in Cuba to press for his release.

Foreign Media: Ex-Mossad Agent Committed Suicide in Israeli Prison

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

“Prisoner X,” who hanged himself in an Israeli jail in 2010, was an Australian citizen who worked for the Mossad but apparently committed a heinous crime, perhaps treason, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported Tuesday.

The report sent the Netanyahu government scrambling to convene an urgent meeting of Israeli editors to keep the allegations from appearing in Israeli media, Haaretz reported.

ABC named “Prisoner X” as Ben Zygier, who went by the alias of Ben Alon or Ben Allen after he moved to Israel. Zygier, or Alon or Allen, was married to an Israeli woman and had two children. He was mysteriously jailed in a super-high security wing approximately 10 years after moving to Israel.

His identity never was revealed even to prison guards, and the prisoner committed suicide at the age of 34 despite state-of-the-art surveillance systems that are installed to prevent prisoners from taking their own lives. Zygier was in the Ayalon prison wing that held Yigal Amir, who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

Israel never admitted to the existence of Prisoner X even after the suicide was reported in 2010. At the time, media speculated the prisoner was a most senior enemy agent, with some suggesting that he was a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards general.

After ABC’s report Tuesday, Haaretz told its readers that the Office of the Prime Minister called an emergency meeting of local editors “to ask its members to co-operate with the government and withhold publication of information pertaining to an incident that is very embarrassing to a certain government agency.”

ABC said it was able to identify Prisoner X through circumstantial evidence that was provided after the suicide victim’s body was sent to Melbourne a week after his death. Before then, Australia did not of his incarceration.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr responded to the ABC’s exposé, “Those allegations certainly do trouble me.

“It’s never been raised with me…. The difficulty is I’m advised we’ve had no contact with his family [and] there’s been no request for consular assistance during the period it’s alleged he was in prison.

“Even if Prisoner X has now been identified, his crime, however, remains a mystery although it has been widely speculated that it would have involved treachery to warrant such extreme measures.”

If the allegations are true, Israel might be subject to serious questions about due process of law.  Human Rights Watch researcher Bill van Esveld told the newspaper that there are serious issues involved concerning fundamental prisoners’ rights.

“It’s called a disappearance, and a disappearance is not only a violation of that person’s due process rights – that’s a crime,” he said. “Under international law, the people responsible for that kind of treatment actually need to be criminally prosecuted themselves.”


Meet Egyptian Activist Maikel Nabil: Pro-democracy and Pro-Israel

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

The word “bravery” is pranced around way too frequently these days, but a young Arab, in a country struggling to free itself from the yoke of tyranny – who defiantly promotes the causes of democracy, tolerance and peace between Arabs and Israelis deserves such recognition.

Liberal Egyptian blogger, human rights dissident, and peace advocate Maikel Nabil spent over 302 days in prison for criticizing the Egyptian Military after it took power in early 2011. Before he was released on Jan. 24, 2012 - after a “Free Maikel” Twitter campaign captured the support of millions worldwide, and after his 130-day hunger strike – Nabil was subjected to beatings, torture and other cruel forms of abuse.

I met Nabil, one of the genuine heroes of Tahir Square, briefly today in Jerusalem while he was on a peace tour of the Jewish state – where he’s delivering lectures, meeting with leading public figures and peace activists, and visiting the disputed territories – and it was clear while speaking to him that he’s as passionately patriotic towards Egypt as he is sincere in his benevolence towards both Palestinians and Israelis.

Nabil believes there is a much greater degree of goodwill on behalf of Egyptians towards Israelis than what the media is reporting, and it would be fair to characterize his trip to Israel and the territories (sponsored by UN Watch) as a genuine “peace mission” aimed at dispelling myths about both Egyptians and Israelis – all of which makes the disruption of his speech at Hebrew University yesterday, by “pro-Palestinian activists” almost inexplicable.

Israelis who advocate on behalf of Palestinians – either Arabs or Jews – should, it seems, be heartened by a genuine human rights activist who’s working to bring about a peaceful, democratic Middle East where the rights of all in the region are respected.

However, undeterred by such criticism, Nabil is remarkably optimistic.

Nabil believes that the Muslim Brotherhood-led government is indeed a step backwards for Egyptian democracy (and for Egyptian-Israeli relations), but he expressed confidence that the truly liberal values of the revolution will ultimately prevail.

“It might take 3 or 4 years”, he told me, but a democratic Egypt which respects the human rights of all its citizens, secular and religious, will, he fervently believes, eventually emerge.

In one blog post, written while he was in prison, Nabil reiterated his refusal to engage with the military’s interrogators, and – evoking the courageous resistance of Natan Sharansky during his imprisonment in the Soviet gulags vividly described in ‘Fear No Evil‘ – wrote “I don’t beg for my freedom from a group of killers and homeland-stealers.” He added:

The military council is the one that has to apologize for my imprisonment, my torture, silencing my mouth, spying on my life, my relatives and my friends,” he wrote. “The military council is the one that has to apologize [for] its crimes of killing, torturing and unlawful prosecutions.

Finally, I’d highly recommend reading Nabil’s blog post about Israel, also written while in an Egyptian prison, titled “Why am I pro-Israel“, which provides a fascinating insight into the mind of the truly liberal activist, and should offer a glimmer of hope even to the most cynical among us.

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Jonathan Pollard Returned to Prison

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

After a week of medical tests in the hospital, Jonathan Pollard was returned on Sunday to his prison cell.

After falling seriously ill a week ago, Pollard was taken to a hospital were tests were performed,including an MRI of his brain.

The results are not yet in, but his condition stabilized enough that the authorities decided to return him to his cell to await the results of the tests.

Parshat Vayeishev

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Most people remember where they were when they heard the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed and justice delivered. Many books have already been written about the ten-year search for him, the decision to launch the mission and the actual attack on his compound in Abbottabad. While every aspect of this story is fascinating, I would like to focus on one specific area: Why were the Navy SEALs chosen to execute the mission? When the mission was being planned it was hardly a done deal that the SEALs would be selected as opposed to the CIA’s own paramilitary unit.[1]

At a meeting at the CIA in early 2011 Admiral William McRaven, the commander of JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command), suggested that one of the military’s special operations forces be used. His suggestion was SEAL Team Six[2], based on their availability. His reasoning for using one of his teams as opposed to a CIA team was as follows: The compound was located 150 miles inside Pakistan. The least of the problems would be the actual storming of the compound. The key challenge was that the attacking force would have to fulfill its mission and extract itself without starting a shooting war with the Pakistani army. This made the mission overly complex and, the more complex a mission, the more things there are that could go wrong. The SEALs, McRaven argued, had perfected these tactics through trial and error, and at the cost of many lives. They knew what they were doing. They had the experience.

McRaven told CIA officials that history has taught that on missions like this, something always goes wrong – no matter how much planning there is. What they needed were men who could think under pressure and adapt to whatever situation materialized. McRaven was persuasive and SEAL team Six got the job.

The commander handpicked the SEALs who would go on the mission. “It was a Dream Team: men who, in the thousands of raids he had overseen, had shown they did not rattle, had shown they could handle themselves coolly and intelligently not just when things went according to plan, but when things went wrong. Those situations required quickly assessing the significance of the error or malfunction or whatever unexpected event had occurred, and then making the necessary adjustments to complete the mission. The core talent required was the ability to adapt, to think for yourself and make smart decisions” (The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden by Mark Bowden, 2012, p. 192-93).

The ability to adapt is necessary for all successful leaders. Either things don’t go as planned or unexpected opportunities present themselves. While the leader’s vision and overall goal should remain constant, his plans and tactics must be flexible. This requires conditioning and preparation. In this week’s parsha we meet the ultimate adaptable leader—Yosef. Every step of Yosef’s kidnapping and sale to the Midyanim and then to the Yishmaelim was guided by Hashem, and inspired Yosef to adapt in every situation in a manner that would place him on the trajectory to become viceroy in Egypt. The Ketav Sofer points out that Yosef, despite being a charismatic and success-generating individual, managed to act plain and unassuming while in the company of the Yishmaelim. Had he been his normal self, they never would have sold him in Egypt; they would have opted to keep him for themselves. Had that happened Yosef would have remained a permanent prisoner of a nomadic tribe with no hope of becoming a player in world affairs. Yosef thus adapted to the situation by subduing his natural personality.

Upon being sold to Potifar the Kli Yakar (39:3,5) explains that Yosef demonstrated his organizational and managerial skills and earned three promotions within the household operation. Seeing his success Potifar assigned Yosef to his personal staff with the independence necessary to do his job. He then placed him in charge of the entire household staff. Finally, he appointed him as manager of all his operations, including all of his outside concerns.

After Yosef was falsely accused of misconduct, he was sentenced to the royal prison. Yet even there, amid the terrible conditions of a prison, Yosef adapted and managed to impress his superiors, inspire confidence and attain the position of prison manager. The Or Chaim Hakadosh (39:22) suggests, based on the wording of the pasuk, that Yosef, despite being the senior prisoner, did not take advantage of his position and co-opt for himself special privileges. Instead, he worked with the other prisoners sharing in their discomfort. By setting such a high personal example Yosef endeared himself in the eyes of all others.

Terror Suspect Pleads Guilty to Attempted Attack on NYC Synagogues

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Ahmed Ferhani, one of two men arrested in an undercover sting in May 2011 and charged with attempting to blow up synagogues in New York City, has pled guilty, and now faces a sentence of 10 years in prison.

The 27 year old Algerian said in a prepared statement that “By targeting a synagogue … I intended to create chaos and send a message of intimidation and coercion to the Jewish population of New York City, warning them to stop mistreating Muslims.”

Justice Michael Obus is expected to sentence Ferhani to 10 years, significantly less than the 14 requested by the prosecution, and will likely be deported after serving his time in jail.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/terror-suspect-pleads-guilty-to-attempted-attack-on-nyc-synagogues/2012/12/05/

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