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December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Purim’

Defense Witnesses in Hebron Shooting Trial Accuses Ya’alon of Meddling

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

The trial of IDF medic Elor Azaria, who shot dead an Arab terrorist in Hebron last Purim after the latter had already been felled to the ground, was resumed Sunday morning after a month’s break. The defense plans to introduce four new witnesses, most likely local civilians who were present at the scene at the time of the shooting.

The first defense witness to take the stand Sunday morning was Eliyahu Liebman, Hebron’s Security Officer for the past 22 years, who received a commendation from the IDF chief of staff back in 2002 for his role in protecting Jewish worshipers from Arab attackers during the second Intifada. Liebman said the IDF and the media presented an inaccurate picture of reality at the time of the shooting. He accused them of painting a target around Azaria after the fact. He recalled a phone conversation from a person in former defense minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon’s circle who told Liebman that “Bogie told him even the Hebron Security Officer thinks the shooting was invalid. He asked if this was true, I answered it was a complete lie.”

Liebman testified that he had not been questioned by military police following the incident, and that other security officers had been skipped by investigators. He told the court, “I suspect that in this case we weren’t just accidentally not summoned for questioning, and it looks like it had to do with the comments by then Defense Minister Ya’alon following the shooting incident.”

Ya’alon, as well as IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, openly chastised the defendant well before the investigation of the case had even begun.

Liebman testified that the removal of the terrorist’s body was done in a manner contrary to protocol. “The terrorist was taken away without being checked and contrary to the professional opinion of the sappers. It put in risk anyone who carried him until the moment the sappers checked him and ruled him clear.”

Azaria’s defense team has announced it would present several witnesses the prosecution opted to skip, noting that “the indictment mentions 77 witnesses, out of whom the prosecution chose to hear 22, when it realized that its own witnesses … utterly contradict its version of events.” The defense will endeavor to complete the picture as the prosecution should have done, suggesting it is “convinced once the full picture and not a partial and twisted picture is presented, things will be clarified at the court room.”

The task of the defense is to repair the damage caused by the confrontational testimony given by the defendant Azaria. He was baited by the chief prosecutor and was unable to explain blatant contradictions between different statements he had given regarding the shooting. He introduced a new claim, an accusation that his company commander slapped him after the shooting, an element he had never before mentioned. He also accused his battalion commander of lying but was unable to offer a coherent reason as to why he would do so, other than “fear of the media.”

Still, an unconvincing testimony by the defendant does not necessarily mean the judges would hold it against him should the defense be able to poke holes at the prosecution’s version of events. Much of the debate will circle around whether or not there was a reasonable expectation that the terrorist on the ground, who was severely injured but not fatally so, still posed a lethal danger. In that context, the fact that the terrorist was wearing a heavy coat on a sunny day — a telltale sign of a potential suicide bombing — combined with mismanagement of the potential danger, could advance the defendant’s cause.

JNi.Media

Israelis Raise More than $120 Thousand Overnight for Hebron Shooter’s Legal Defense

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Former MK Sharon Gal (Yisrael Beiteinu) has proven that everything people have been saying about the burgeoning Israeli rightwing majority whose power has only begun to be unleashed is absolutely true. Gal, who hosts a show on economics on rightwing TV Channel 20, found out that the attorneys for IDF medic Sergeant Elor Azaria had not been paid and that as a result the defense for the 19-year-old soldier was facing obvious difficulties, took to the crowdsourcing Headstart website where in about 12 hours he raised more than the needed amount — and the money is still pouring in.

Gal told the Headstart visitors — as of 10 AM Monday there were 3,297 donors who left the equivalent of $120,098.67 — that he will continue the collection to create a fund for future cases in which IDF soldiers who carry out righteous shoots against Arab terrorists are taken to court by their own army.

On March 24, which was also the holiday of Purim, Sergeant Azaria arrived on the scene of a terror stabbing outside the Jewish community of Hebron, where one stabber was dead and the other lay next to him on the ground. Azaria shot the second terrorist dead, an act that would have at most resulted in a disciplinary hearing within his military unit, but, an Arab B’Tselem employee was on hand to document the event and the video went viral. This resulted in the entire military apparatus becoming prosecutor, judge and executioner of the exemplary soldier, who received official recognition as Outstanding Fighter. From the defense minister down, they all condemned the yet to be investigated act. And so, rather than receiving a slap on the wrist, Azaria faced a murder charge, which was later reduced—under pressure from an outraged public—to manslaughter.

The trial is in full swing these days in a military court in Jaffa, and the Azaria family was running out of funds fast. At which point their countrymen took out their credit cards and gave and gave.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office responded that “Azaria is an IDF soldier who is entitled to a fair trial. Despite the fact that he had the option of taking a military defender for free, he opted to take a civilian attorney.”

Of course, the military prosecution did exactly the same thing: preferring not to rely on their home-grown talent, the prosecution conscripted one of Israel’s top litigators, Nadav Weisman, to lead its team, so, to play fair, the IDF should have paid for the defendant’s outside legal help, too. But the IDF spokesperson had nothing to say about that.

JNi.Media

Israeli Media Reporting on Hebron Shooter Trial Strictly Political

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

“Sitting next to his parents, with a blank face, [Sergeant Elor] Azaria is realizing the defense arguments are collapsing,” Shabtay Bendet wrote in Walla last Thursday, on the trial of the medic who last Purim in Hebron shot to death an Arab Terrorist who had already been neutralized and was lying on the pavement. An Arab B’Tselem cameraman captured the incident, and as a result what would have ended in a disciplinary hearing for the shooter, at most, quickly turned into a murder charge which was then reduced to a manslaughter indictment by the IDF prosecutor.

“These last few days of hearings did not bode well for the soldier, accused of killing a terrorist,” wrote Bendet, as if the term “terrorist” was a kind of civilian occupation, and could be easily substituted with “housewife” or “driving instructor,” or “electrician.” Bendet continued: “One after the other the witnesses undercut the defense claim that the terrorist posed a real threat of carrying an explosive charge on his person. Meanwhile, Azaria and his family have been maintaining their silence, except for one outburst borne by the realization that things are not great [for them].”

Bendet’s report about how the prosecution has been winning the Azaria trial mirrors countless reports with a similar message which have saturated Israel’s media over the weekend. And, naturally, the further to the left the writer, the broader the implications of the Azaria manslaughter case regarding the entire Netanyahu government and its policies in Judea and Samaria.

Ravit Hecht criticized in Haaretz on Friday Azaria’s father’s emotional call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to intervene in hi son’s case. “The father is calling on the prime minister to, in effect, take action against the army,” she wrote. “The father is turning to the prime minister to sabotage the machinery of the very system with which he is trusted.”

Hecht then goes on to accuse Netanyahu of always sabotaging the systems he is trusted with, but it’s clear from her approach that a conviction in the Azaria case is the proper outcome, while, should the 19-year-old sergeant be acquitted, democracy would be in peril.

Bendet, for his part, misunderstands the central issue in this case, which has made it such a tough case for the prosecution, they had to go and recruit outside talent from Israel’s top litigation firm. The case depends not on the objective conditions near the Hebron check point on the morning of the incident and whether or not there was a realistic expectation of the terrorist carrying explosives on his body, but on the state of mind of the shooter at the time: did Sergeant Azaria believe the terrorist posed a credible threat while on the ground?

But even regarding the rules of engagement as they were understood at the time of the incident, the prosecution’s testimonies are problematic, if not outright tainted, according to Moshe Ifergan, writing for Mida Saturday.

“Don’t believe what the media are telling you,” Ifergen insisted. “Judicially speaking, the testimonies of the division commander, the soldier and the company sergeant who were at the scene prove that the prosecution has collapsed. Severe internal contradictions in witnesses’ testimonies and obstructions of the investigation on the part of the command level should lead to a mistrial.”

Ifergen accuses the IDF of intervening in the investigation in a manner that hopelessly polluted the evidence and the testimony. Kalman Liebskind, writing for Ma’ariv also accused then defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF chief of staff Gabi Eizenkot of jumping to damning conclusions before the investigation had begun, and essentially shutting out any testimony that contradicted their strong and unmistaken condemnation of the accused. The defense was able to elicit from several witnesses, rank and file soldiers in Azaria’s unit, testimony about the massive campaign on the part of the division commander and the new battalion commander to condemn the accused.

A central question in the case, which everyone involved, including the judge, keep going back to, is the prosecution’s argument that the behavior of the soldiers in the B’Tselem video does not show that they were concerned about an explosive charge on the terrorist’s body, which the defense says was the reason Azaria shot him on the ground. Since these soldiers had undergone special training to handle explosives in such a situation, goes the argument, their lack of concern is evidence that no such threat existed at the time, ergo Azaria shot the terrorist because he hates Arabs.

But the protocols suggest otherwise. Here’s one exchange:

Defense: You underwent instruction with visualized situations of isolating a terror attack scene?

Soldier M: No.

D: You underwent instruction and situations where there was concern for an explosive charge on a terrorist?

M: No.

D: And on the terrorist’s body?

M: No.

D: The division commander who testified here said in an announcement [date omitted] that he instructed the commanders at the check point in Kiryat Arba (near Hebron) with the complete set of scenarios and that he wants to believe that this was passed on to all the soldiers. To you it wasn’t passed?

M: No, it wasn’t passed.

. . .

D: [A previous witness, an enlisted man] says like you’re saying, that you didn’t undergo training in situations of isolating an attack scene, and he says you didn’t undergo instruction and visualizing of situations where there was concern for an explosive load on the body of a terrorist?

M: No, just like I said a minute ago.

D: The company commander also confirms this regarding a lack of instruction for explosive charges here. Does this match your version?

M: Yes.

The defense questioned three witnesses on this point, proving without the shadow of a doubt that while the division chief had instructed his commanders on the rules of engagement and protocol regarding a terrorist suspected of carrying a charge, the commanders did not consequently train their own underlings, which would suggest that the reason they appear care free and unafraid of an impending explosion was ignorance.

Meanwhile, earlier in the proceedings, the defense received confirmation to its point regarding the danger of an explosive from a prosecution witness, Sergeant A.

Prosecutor: When you arrived on the scene, what was your assignment?

A: To secure the terrorist who was situated at the bottom part of the slope, [dressed] in black, and to isolate the scene.

P: Who gave you this assignment?

A: Meir Avni (company commander).

P: What did he tell you regarding the terrorist?

A: He said the terrorist was still alive and there’s a concern about a charge on his person, I shouldn’t let people coming from down below to get close.

This was then used poignantly by the defense.

Defense: [Company Commander] Avni knows about the concern regarding the charge, this contrary to the testimony of the Division Commander.

A: Correct.

D: And he instructs you not to go near the terrorist, to wait for the sapper and stay away from him.

A: Yes, [but] on point there’s one correction, I was instructed especially to stand behind the sapper and make sure people who are not part of the security forces not go near.

The odds on an acquittal or a mistrial for Sergeant Azaria among legal professionals who are interviewed by the media are about fifty-fifty. With one military judge already having been forced to recuse herself following an accusation of conflict of interests, and with the security establishment appearing so heavily invested in getting a conviction, it won’t be an easy task for the military judicial panel to rule against the system. But the case for both an acquittal and a mistrial appears strong, so that there’s little doubt that a conviction would result in an appeal to the civilian Supreme Court.

JNi.Media

French Jew Arrives as Paris Jihadist, Yells ‘Allahu Akbar!’ at Synagogue on Purim

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Jews in Paris have been under a lot of stress over the past couple of years.

A 40-year-old Jewish man in Europe decided to lighten things up for Purim at a Paris synagogue last week, so he arrived for the Megillah reading dressed as a jihadist, yelling “Allahu Akbar!”

He was really authentic, right down to the flowing robes, beard and fake AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle.

The guards protecting the southeastern Paris house of worship in Vincennes were, suffice to say, shocked. Police sources told media it definitely created “a certain emotion” among the soldiers.

The incident took place at a Chabad synagogue towards the end of Purim last Thursday night.

Many Jews consider it a mitzvah (commandment) on Purim to drink to the point of no longer knowing the difference between King Ahashuerus and Haman.

The man told Le Parisien he did it to “lighten the mood.” He later admitted that perhaps he made “a big mistake.” The synagogue is located in the same community where four Jews were shot last year.

The shock passed once some of the congregants recognized the “jihadist” dressed in the flowing Arabic robes.

However, the ersatz “jihadist” was ordered to pay a visit to the police precinct on Friday.

Hana Levi Julian

Today’s Persia, Purim in Our Time

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Here in Shiloh, we celebrate two days of Purim for reasons that seem less and less convincing each year. Everyone, including the most secular and anti-biblical narrative archaeologists agree that Shiloh was a Jewish City long before the post-First Temple Purim story. Now that I’ve been studying Ezra-Nehemiah: Shivat Tzion´s Challenges and Triumphs  taught by Yael Leibowitz in Matan, the timeline of Jewish History is starting to make more sense to me. But  as you well know, I am not a rabbi, historian or archeologist; I’m just a blogger…

One of the advantages of having both Purim days is that after thirty-four, yes, 34, years, I’ve heard Megillat (Scroll of) Esther many, many times. I also took a course on it in Matan a number of years ago by Atara Snowbell.

The Megillat (Scroll of) Esther opens with the celebrations in Persia and makes it clear that the Jewish community there participated fully. They were accepted as proper Persians as long as they didn’t stand out as Jews. That’s why Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to Haman, a high official of King Achashverosh was so “problematic.”

Most of the Jewish People in Persia considered assimilation to be the way to succeed and have an easy life. From my studies of Ezra-Nechemia, intermarriage was rife, and Jewish observance was rare.

Yes, doesn’t that remind you of today’s western world, America, Europe, Australia etc? For a Jew to get even close to the highest echelons of power, he/she must fully adopt a non-Jewish lifestyle and ideology/religion. Yes, think of Bernie Sanders.

Those of us who insist that the United States is not a true friend and ally of Israel are criticized and shunned. Too many Jews refuse to recognize that only Gd can save us. They are blinded by the fancy words of foreign politicians and think of those “buy in America only” shopping coupons as valuable gold.

Whenever I’ve spoken to a Jew who has met a POTUS, no matter who, they seem permanently blinded by some dazzle of the occasion. It saddens me, and it frightens me. Is there some mechanism in the White House or accompanying a President that zaps the brain of everyone in his (in the meantime no “her”) presence turning logic into mush?

Well, if we’re really in a similar situation then it will take much stronger actions against the Jewish communities in the world and the State of Israel for common sense/faith in Gd only to come to fore. Too bad that most Jews can only understand when times get really tough. I remember how things were in the difficult weeks leading up to the 1967 Six Days War. The Jewish World gathered in prayer to Gd and we had no foreign allies. Gd gave us a victory that military experts can’t explain to this day. But unfortunately as the smoke cleared so did the faith in Gd. I hate to think what it will take for the Jewish People to finally come to its senses permanently.

Batya Medad

Istanbul Jews to Hear Megillah in 500-Year-Old Synagogue

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Jews in Istanbul will stream into a 500-year-old synagogue tonight (Wed. Mar. 23) to hear the reading of the Book of Esther, the Megillah, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi of Turkey. It’s an ancient tradition that no one would dare to disturb.

Entrance to the centuries-old Ahrida Synagogue in Istanbul's Balat neighborhood.

Entrance to the centuries-old Ahrida Synagogue in Istanbul’s Balat neighborhood.

The Ahrida Synagogue is a fairly modest building — one has to search hard within the numerous alleyways of the historically Jewish Balat neighborhood to find it — but nevertheless, it is tightly guarded. JewishPress.com managed to secure a precious half-hour interview under the authority of the Chief Rabbinate of Turkey, and when that time was up, two men came to ensure that the synagogue caretake closed and locked the doors and gates precisely on time. To the minute.

“It is to make sure the synagogue stays safe,” we were told. There are cameras everywhere in the small synagogue, we also discovered. Everywhere. But that did not stop our guide from showing us everything there was to know about the house of worship he clearly loved.

“Hundreds of years ago, Jews made their way from Macedonia to the majestic city of Constantinople in search of a better life,” he explained. “There in the heart of what was later to become Istanbul, that small group of Jews built a modest house of worship in the Balat neighborhood.”

The Ahrida Synagogue, built in 1430 by the Jews of Ohry, Macedonia, is arranged in the Sephardic tradition with the bima in the center. Within a few years, the congregation grew, and was supplemented by those who had fled Spain in 1492.

“There are Ottoman documents dating to 1693 verifying the origins of the synagogue and the fact of its continuous use since that time,” he added.

The Ahrida Synagogue is especially famed for the shape of its bima, which is in the form of a “Tevah” – Noah’s Ark – and possibly the ships that brought the Jews to the Ottoman Empire. The mother-of-pearl inlaid door wings of the Ark that holds and protects the Torah scrolls within, and the high, magnificent wooden arched ceiling reflect classical Ottoman styles.

Torah ark with inlaid mother-of-pearl at Ahrida Synagogue in Istanbul.

Torah ark with inlaid mother-of-pearl at Ahrida Synagogue in Istanbul.

The Ahrida Synagogue was restored in 1992 by the Quincentennial Foundation, within the framework of the quincentennial celebrations of the Jewish community’s existence in Turkey.

The synagogue is one of only two in Balat that still remain in active use. A second synagogue that opened for prayers for only a day earlier this year was found with nasty epithets spray-painted on the outside wall 24 hours later. But not so the Ahrida, where neighbors are happy to talk about its history, and point out the apartment of the first chief rabbi of Turkey (“It has a Star of David on the ceiling on the balcony, can you see it?”).

Apartment of the Chief Rabbi, locatec conveniently right across the street from Ahrida Synagogue.

Apartment of the Chief Rabbi, locatec conveniently right across the street from Ahrida Synagogue.

One neighbor quietly said later, “Our streets were filled with people of many lands decades ago. It is very different now. This synagogue was open all the time back then, and the Jews prayed there all the time, every day. But after 1948, most of the Jews left. We miss them and our country is poorer for it.”

Hana Levi Julian

Purim Began Early This Year

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

As there’s no school on Purim, Israeli schools hold their Purim parties and dress-ups earlier…

Photos by Flash90: Yonatan Sindel, Gershon Elinson, Lior Mizrahi

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Purim Costumes 2016

Photo of the Day

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/purim-began-early-this-year/2016/03/22/

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