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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘prison’

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.

Pollard Collapsed in Jail over the Weekend

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

The committee to release Jonathan Pollard says the Jewish spy was hospitalized after he had collapsed in prison. His condition is unknown. His wife was informed by the prison authorities a short while ago.

A source inside the committee told Ynet that over the past few weeks Pollard has been suffering great pain, but it is not yet known if the that was the cause of his collapse.

Maker of Anti-Muslim Film Gets a Year in Prison

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

The Californian who produced the anti-Muslim film which led to anti-American violence throughout the Middle East was sentenced Wednesday to a year in federal prison, not for crimes against Islam, but for violating the terms of his probation, AP reports.

In a plea bargain between Mark Basseley Youssef and federal prosecutors, Youssef admitted in open court that he had used a number of false names, in direct violation of his probation order, including obtaining a driver’s license under a false name.

Youssef was on probation for a bank fraud case.

Youssef’s attorney, Steven Seiden, later told reporters outside the court house that he had a message for them from his client.

“The one thing he wanted me to tell all of you is President Obama may have gotten Osama bin Laden, but he didn’t kill the ideology,” Seiden said.

Asked to elaborate, the attorney said, “I didn’t ask him, and I don’t know.”

All the parties to the plea deal agreed that the violations had nothing to do with “Innocence of Muslims,” Youssef’s film that depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, pedophile and womanizer.

But, of course, everybody also knew that, had Youssef not produced that idiotic film, he would have been allowed to go on with his grifter’s life at least until he got caught stealing something serious again.

Still, according to AP, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale argued that Youssef’s lies about his identity have caused harm to others, including the film’s cast and crew, who found themselves in the midst of an apparent plot to spread deadly violence to many parts of the Middle East.

“They had no idea he was a recently released felon,” Dugdale said. “Had they known that, they might have had second thoughts” about doing the film.

Dugdale said members of the crew had received death threats, and they fear their careers are ruined.

Youssef, 55, was arrested in late September, just weeks after he went into hiding when the deadly violence erupted.

A Pakistani cabinet minister even offering $100,000 to anyone who kills Youssef. This might force the federal prison authorities to take special measures in protecting him.

The Lehi Fighter and Kever Rachel (Video)

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

The 11th of Marcheshvan marks the traditional anniversary of the passing of Rachel Imeinu (the Matriarch Rachel).

For centuries, Jews have prayed in Bethlehem at Kever Rachel (Rachel’s Tomb), a symbol of the Biblical promise of the Jewish return to their homeland.

In 1945, Yaffa Tevuah was a 22-year old Lehi fighter imprisoned by the British in the women’s prison in Bethlehem. While being taken back and forth to Jerusalem for questioning at the British Police headquarters, she passed by Kever Rachel and recognized the landmark from pictures that hung in her home as a child in Moldavia. Seeking courage when facing her British interrogators, she drew strength from Rachel Imeinu and comfort from her sense of returning home.

Visit the Muqata.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/the-lehi-fighter-and-kever-rachel-video/2012/10/30/

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