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April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Jews Struggling to Survive as Fighting Intensifies in Eastern Ukraine

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

In eastern Ukraine, Jews are scrambling to survive as fighting intensifies between Russian-backed rebels and the Ukraine army.

At least nine people were killed this morning (Jan. 22) when a civilian bus was shelled in the city of Donetsk, capital of the province bearing the same name. The Ukraine defense ministry told the BBC that its troops have retreated from the main terminal of Donetsk airport, which is not in use. The facility still has symbolic value for both sides, however, and the army’s loss of the terminal is a major victory for the rebels.

More than 4,800 have died and some 1.2 million are homeless since the rebels seized control last April over parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The move followed Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, a peninsula which belonged to Ukraine.

In the Lugansk (also called “Luhansk”) Jewish community, things have remained relatively quiet, according to local Jewish sources who asked for anonymity. But one can hear the sounds of war not far away, and a family can lose all its food if the house is left alone for more than a day.

Hungry neighbors feel no shame in foraging for anything they can find – anywhere – even in the homes of others.

Trains no longer go into Lugansk, a community member explains, and “the connection with Ukraine is growing dimmer by the day.”

For the Jews in the city, a major lifeline of support has been thrown by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. The organization funds Chabad-run refugee camps in the region, and sends thousands of care packages to needy Jewish families in the battered Donbass region. Likewise, Ohr Avner and the Rohr Family Foundation have been continued pillars of support essential to helping the Jews of eastern Ukraine survive.

Some Jews from the region have managed to reach Israel via aliyah already, but many still remain in Ukraine. Those who have chosen to escape the horror — even if it means moving to a strange new land and learning a new language — at least have a familiar face to greet them: exiled Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to Lugansk, Rabbi Sholom Gopin and his wife Chana are in Israel too.

The Gopins were forced to move temporarily to Kfar Chabad due to the intense fighting in the region. Gopin told Chabad.org recently that he makes the three and a half hour flight back and forth to Ukraine often in order to visit community members and ensure that help gets through to those still living in Lugansk.

In Donetsk, not so far from Lugansk, the Jewish community is also struggling but has seen more violence. Last September, just before Rosh HaShanah, the community lost one of its prominent members to rebel banditry.

Garik Zylberbord, 47, was shot to death while trying to stop pro-Russian rebels from robbing his neighbor’s home. Zylberbord was a community leader and a long-time friend of the exiled chief rabbi and co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Donetsk, Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski.

Having made plans to meet the rabbi in a few days in Kiev where Vishedski had been forced to flee with his family just two weeks prior, Zylberbord appeared earlier than planned, the rabbi noted sorrowfully: to attend his own funeral.

Vishedski and his wife Dina have set up a Donetsk Jewish community office in Kiev to help the lost and struggling Jews of his city who found refuge there and in other parts of Ukraine. “Calls start at the crack of dawn and don’t stop the entire day,” said Vishedski, “not only from poor families but now also from regular, middle-class people who also have no money or food right now.”

Putin Blames ‘Outside Factors’ for Falling Ruble

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Russian President Vladamir Putin blamed the falling ruble on “outside factors” in an end-of-year news conference Thursday. However, he admitted that Russia had failed to create a diverse economy.

Putin warned that the economic crisis facing Russia could last for two years.

Russia has taken an economic hit due to falling oil prices and international sanctions over its annexation of Crimea.

Yosef Mendelevitch Visits City Where He Was Prisoner of Zion

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Former Prisoner of Zion Yosef Mendelevitch made an emotional return to the city where he was imprisoned in the 1970s to join hundreds of Jews from across Russia for the 4th Annual Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) in St. Petersburg this weekend.

St. Petersburg claims the second largest Jewish community in Russia today with about 100,000 Jewish residents,

Mendelevitch was held in a Soviet prison after being arrested for leading the 1970 “Operation Wedding,” a Soviet Jewish operation to steal a plane from then-Leningrad’s airport and escape to Israel. After gaining his freedom, he made Aliyah to Israel.

Mendelevitch recounted his experiences in Operation Wedding, recalling celebrating Shabbat in the Gulag and describing his feelings about returning to St. Petersburg.

“I spent a lot of time in this city but only as a prisoner, so I don’t know it at all,” he said. “I’m certainly not nostalgic. The Land of Israel is the only place to which I have an emotional attachment.”

Russia to Support PA Draft Resolution in UN Security Council

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Russia says it plans to support the draft resolution proposed by the Palestinian Authority to set a deadline to expel all Jews from Judea, Samaria and all other territories won by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

With the ethnic cleansing of Jews from those territories, the PA would thereby be established as the new sovereign country called the State of Palestine, essentially within the borders of the State of Israel. The move would absolve the PA of having to meet its legal obligations to negotiate the terms of its final status, including its borders, with Israel under the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords which were signed in the early 1990s.

“I cannot see any reason to cavil about this text or about the Palestinian people’s wish to say once again ‘let’s have a look at this situation in the UN framework,” said Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov on Sunday.

“So we say, ‘If you find one option or another suitable, then we will support you as friends. You know better what you need and how to achieve it. We think that the Palestinian case is fair, meaning that people have a right to self-determination, up to establishing their state,” he told journalists on Sunday, according to the semi-official Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

The Palestinian Authority was designated a “non-member observer state” by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012.

The Russian news agency added, “By September 2013, the Palestinian State has been recognized by 134 UN member states, including Russia. However, most of the European Union members and the United States have not given their official recognition. Some EU members, such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, have recognized the Palestinian State before joining the bloc.”

Syrian Rebels Claim They Overran Golan Spy Post Backed by Russians [video]

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Syrian rebels have posted a YouTube claiming that they overran a spy post on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights that was partially manned by Russians.

The video, picked up by The Daily Beast shows includes insignia and other signs that the post was run by Syrian intelligence with help from Russia. The post probably was used to monitor communications between rebel forces but also might have been used to tune in on the Israeli side of the strategic Golan Heights.

Photos of the location of IDF units were found bit the Free Syrian Army (FSA), confirming reports from Israel earlier this year that Russia is even more deeply involved in the Assad regime than previously estimated. Russian insignia were seen in the YouTube.

An FSA official told The Daily Beast that its fighters spotted more than dozen Russians in the area before the FSA overran the post.

Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russia’s military and intelligence services at New York University was quoted as saying that Russian advisers probably were “running an operation for detailed radio technical intelligence; we are not talking about intercepting telemetry and aircraft.”

With the ISIS advancing in northern Syria and closing in on cities in Iraq, including Baghdad, it is safe to assume that Israel would have preferred that Assad forces, even with the presence of Russian personnel, man a spy post across from the Israeli border instead of its being operated by rebels who just as easily could be overrun by Al Qaeda or ISIS jihadists.

SWIFT Refuses to Suspend Israel, Russia

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has announced it will not buckle to pressure to disconnect Israel – or for that matter, Russia – from its international transaction system.

“SWIFT regrets the pressure, as well as the surrounding media speculation, both of which risk undermining the systemic character of the services that SWIFT provides its customers around the world. As a utility with a systemic global character, it has no authority to make sanctions decisions,” the group said in a statement released on Monday.

“SWIFT services are designed to facilitate its customers’ compliance with sanctions and other regulations, however SWIFT will not make unilateral decisions to disconnect institutions from its network as a result of political pressure,” the communique said.

The international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement has been trying to pressure the system – as well as numerous corporations and other systems – to boycott Israel in an attempt to destroy its economy. BDS supporters are hoping that through economic destruction, Israel will be forced to withdraw from territory it won in the defensive war forced upon it by Arab nations in 1967 – including numerous Jerusalem neighborhoods restored to the Israeli capital since that time.

Disconnecting Israel from SWIFT would isolate its economy from international trade. However, the Brussels-based SWIFT is incorporated under Belgium law, the system noted, blocking it from making such unilateral decisions.

“Any decision to impose sanctions on countries or individual entities rests solely with the competent government bodies and applicable legislators. Being EU-based, SWIFT complies fully with all applicable European law,” the statement said.

Last month, the SWIFT system transmitted more than 21 million financial messages per day between more than 10,500 financial institutions and corporations, in 215 countries, according to the RT news site.

Over the summer there were discussions among EU leaders on whether to consider disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT system as means of pressuring Moscow into backing away from the Ukraine conflict.

‘Russian Hackers’ Attack Millions of JP Morgan Chase Bank Accounts

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Hackers working from deep inside Mother Russia – with at least some level of government approval, according to a report by The Washington Times – were behind a massive cyber attack on the United States-based JP Morgan Chase Bank this past July.

More than 83 million accounts were compromised – names, addresses, phone numbers and contact information — on more than 90 servers that were accessed. More than seven million small businesses were compromised.

According to a report in The New York Times, the hackers were able to steal “a list of every application and program deployed on standard JP Morgan computers that hackers can cross check with known, or new, vulnerabilities in each system in a search for a backdoor entry.”

All accounts that were compromised were disabled and employee passwords were reset. Customers were told they would not need to change their account information or passwords, and Chase Bank said it would not hold customers liable for unauthorized transactions, according to Associated Press.

Intelligence agencies, the Secret Service and the Treasury all worked together with JP Morgan Chase to lock out the hackers, but it took until August until they were able to do so, the Times reported.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/russian-hackers-attack-millions-of-jp-morgan-chase-bank-accounts/2014/10/05/

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