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August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

Two Religious Girls Box-Kick Their Way to World Champions (video)

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Two religious teenagers, one a convert from India and the other born in Baltimore, have won the world championship in Thailand-style kick-boxing for their weight class.

Officially known as Muay Thai, the combat sport is known as “the art of eight weapons” because of the use of fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet.

One might expect that world champs in the kick-boxing sport would be huge gorillas from the Amazon, but two winners in the girls’ championships held in Thailand recently are none other than two religious girls from Israel.

One is Nili Block, who was born in Baltimore and moved with her family to Israel around 15 years ago. The other is Sarah Avraham, whose family was close friends with Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, two of the six victims of the Muslim terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008.

Having already been acquainted with the Jewish religion through their association with the Holtzbergs, they decided to convert and move to Israel after the terrorist attack.

Nili and Sarah train five times a week at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, attacking a punching bag to sharpen their skills under the supervision of a coach. Their rigorous regime paid off in Thailand, where they were crowned champions after Nile defeated her Bulgarian opponent in the flyweight class of 112-118 pounds, while Nili beat her British opponent in the 125-138-pound class.

Nili is an all-round athlete. Before flying to Thailand for the championships, she ran in the 6-mile Jerusalem Marathon in March and win first place in the women’s 16-19 age group, finishing ahead of 500 runners in her category. Later the same month, she won the 10th Amateur-Pro Muay Thai Championships in Bangkok.

“Nili is amazing − slim and tall, she’s built for this sport, and she possesses quite an array of weapons. She can devastate an opponent with her hands, knees and feet, and she has perfect technique,” said Shuki Rozensweing, an Israeli boxer who won the World Muay Thai Association and World Muay Thai Federation unified title in April 2011.

He told the Thai BigChili website, “She is a complete fighter with a high IQ for the sport…. A fight is not only won on strength. Nili won all three rounds against the Bulgarian girl, who was physically stronger, by virtue of her superior technique.”

She is in the 12th grade and has to decide this year whether to enlist in the IDF or serve in “Sherut Leumi,” national service.

The IDF would love to have her in its ranks. She says she is not sure if she wants to miss out serving as a regular soldier and suspend her boxing talents, but Shuki thinks she has a good chance to receive the IDF’s special athletic status, which would allow her to continue to train.

Besides that, let’s see what happens if an Arab terrorist starts up with her.

Nile discovered Muay Thai through her other after the family moved to Israel.

‘‘My mother was at that time a volunteer police woman attached to the Jerusalem police department and she was looking for some kind of martial arts which would be beneficial for her work,” said Nili. “I went with her as she looked for a Muay Thai training camp and I started to train with her. I stopped training for two years while going to school and resumed when I was 13.” Her father, a dentist, supports and encourages her to box.

So much for stereotyped-orthodox families.

The most thrilling moment in the Thai championships was hearing the Israel national anthem Hatikvah two times, once after Nili won her gold medal and the second time when Sarah won.

Sarah’s story is no less spectacular than Nili’s.

Her father is a doctor and was the family physician to the Holtzbergs, who ran the Chabad House in Mumbai.

Sarah was 14 years old when the family converted and then moved to Kiryat Arba, where she learns at a religious “ulpana” high school.

Hevron resident Michael Pollack spotted her talent and put her in touch with Thai boxing coach Eddie Yusopov.

Keeping in mind that Abraham and Sarah were buried in the Patriarchs’ Cave in Hevron, Pollack told the Times of Israel last year, “She draws her strength from where we live in Kiryat Arba. That gives her an inner strength that explodes in the ring.”

Charges Brought Against Iranian Bomb Suspects in Bangkok

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Thailand charged two Iranian suspects today with an alleged bomb plot against Israeli diplomats, officials said, as pressure mounts on Tehran over accusations of a terror campaign against Israel, according to Agence France-Presse.

One of the accused, 28-year-old Saeid Morati, had his legs blown off as he threw an explosive device at Thai police while fleeing an earlier blast at a house in Bangkok.

A second Iranian suspect was detained trying to board a flight out of the country. A third suspect is believed to have fled to Malaysia, they said.

“These three Iranian men are an assassination team and their targets were Israeli diplomats including the ambassador,” a senior Thai intelligence official told AFP. “Their plan was to attach bombs to diplomats’ cars.”

Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul told reporters that the two suspects were charged with causing an illegal explosion and attempting to kill police officers and members of the public.

“We cannot say yet if it’s a terrorist act,” he said, “but it’s similar to the assassination attempt against a diplomat in India.”

Israel’s ambassador to Thailand confirmed Wednesday that the homemade bombs discovered in a Bangkok house after a series of blasts in the city resembled the devices used against Israeli Embassy targets in India and Georgia, buttressing Israel’s claims that the incidents are part of a covert terror campaign by Iran.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast called the allegations against it “baseless,” saying Israel was trying to damage its relations with Thailand.

Barak, Netanyahu, Blame Iran for Attacks

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Speaking in Singapore, where he is on a visit, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the attempted bombing in Bangkok proves that Iran and its proxies continue operating in the ways of terror. “Iran and Hizbollah are relentless terror elements who pose a danger to the stability of the region and the world,” he said in a statement.

A report in the Hindustan Time said that Israeli intelligence warned India of an imminent threat to Israeli establishments and individuals, giving them a list of about 50 Iranian nationals believed to be involved in the a plot.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Foreign Ministry has contacted the Iranian government to find out if the Iranian men caught in the Bangkok bombings are on its terrorist watch list.

The bombs in Thailand came a day after Israeli diplomats were targeted in India and Georgia. In this case, too, Israel blamed Iran and its Lebanese allies, Hizbollah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also pointed the finger at Iran and Hizbollah. “In recent months, we have witnessed several attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in several countries, including Azerbaijan, Thailand and others,” the Israeli leader said. “Iran and its proxy, Hizbollah, were behind all of these attempted attacks.”

Tehran, which has denied responsibility for the attacks in India and Georgia, has blamed Israel for those assassinations, contending that they are part of a violent campaign to stop its nuclear program.

Indian officials pledged to conduct a thorough investigation. If it is discovered that Tehran was involved in the case, India would be forced to take steps against Iran, one of its biggest trading partners.

While many Western powers are boycotting Iranian oil and have imposed sanctions on banking transactions with Iran, India has refused to do the same because it is heavily dependent on Iranian oil.

Three Iranian Bombs Rock Downtown Bangkok

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The three bombs that exploded in a busy Bangkok street Tuesday were intended for “foreign nationals” in Thailand, according to national police chief Priewpan Damapong. The blasts injured five people including a bombing suspect carrying an Iranian passport who blew off his own legs. Another Iranian suspect was arrested at Suvarnabhumi airport hours after the incident as he was about to leave for Malaysia. He is one of three suspects thought to be involved.

Thai TV news reports said the Iranian, carrying a black bag, first threw a bomb at a taxi after its driver refused to take him as a passenger. When police got to the scene, some reports said, he threw a second bomb that hit a tree and bounced back at him, blowing off both his legs. Other eyewitness accounts said he dropped the device. There are also unconfirmed reports that the house where the man was living may be storing further explosives.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was awaiting the results of investigations, and did not blame Iran directly. But she noted Monday’s incidents in India and Georgia, and recent “Iranian-sponsored” and “Hezbollah-linked” plots to attack Israeli and Western interests in Azerbaijan and Thailand.

Thai police have not yet divulged motives for the blasts, but the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, directly accused Iran of exporting terror around the world. “The attempted terror attack in Thailand proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to operate in the ways of terror and the latest attacks are an example of that,” said Barak.

He said Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah were “unrelenting terror elements endangering the stability of the region and endangering the stability of the world.”

Latest Developments on Bomb Attack in India, Failed Attack in Thailand

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

New developments have been reported in the wake of the bomb attacks on Israeli diplomatic targets in India and Georgia yesterday.

The occupant of the car that exploded in India has been identified as Tal Yehoshua-Koren, wife of Israel’s defense attache in India. According to reports, Yehoshua-Koren suffered serious spinal injuries and was operated on this morning. She is reported to be in stable condition.

Speaking from her hospital bed, Yehoshua-Koren said that she remembers “seeing the motorcyclist who apparently threw something in the direction of the car.”

Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said Tuesday, “Investigations are on…it appears that a motorcycle rider, a single person, came from behind. We think the explosion took place within 4-5 seconds of the device being attached.”

“We think it’s likely that a very well-trained person planted the device,” he added. “We think the target was the Israeli diplomat’s wife and therefore we have to assume this was a terror attack.”

Indian officials are viewing the attack as a serious security failure, especially in light of its close proximity to the Indian Prime Minister’s residence.

In Israel, police have increased security at public places, foreign embassies, and Ben-Gurion International Airport. Foreign Ministry officials stated that intelligence and evidence gathered at the blast scene – and at the scene of the thwarted bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat in Georgia – indicate that Iran masterminded the attacks.

Unsurprisingly, Iran has denied any involvement in Monday’s attacks, with Iran’s ambassador to India dismissing Israeli accusations as “nothing but lies.”

In other news, an Iranian man blew off his legs Tuesday in a failed bomb attack in Bangkok.

According to the English-language The Bangkok Post, an Iranian man began the attack by flinging a bomb towards a taxi whose driver refused to accept him as a passenger.

Thai government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng said that police thereafter tried to move in and arrest the man, but not before he attempted to hurl another bomb. The bomb reportedly bounced back in his direction as it detonated, blowing off both his legs. Four other were wounded in the blasts.

Chaisaeng told reporters that these blasts came shortly after there had been an explosion in a house the same man was renting.

“The police have control of the situation. It is thought that the suspect might be storing more explosives inside his house,” Thitima said. She noted that according to an initial police report, the man was an Iranian national.

Hizbollah Terror Suspect Leads Thai Police To Weapons Cache

Monday, January 16th, 2012

A Swedish-Lebanese man suspected of plotting to carry out terrorist attacks led Thai police to a shophouse on the outskirts of Bangkok where they found hundreds of boxes of bomb-making materials.

The man, Attis Hussein, was arrested last Friday on suspicion of being a member of a Hezbollah cell planning to attack tourist sites frequented by Israelis, and was charged by Thai police with possessing illegal substances.

Hussein claimed that “the bomb-making materials were not for terrorist attacks in Thailand, but were intended to be smuggled out of the country,” national police chief Priewpan Damapong said.

Pesach In Thailand

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

                It isn’t often a person from West Bloomfield, Mich., shares a PassoverSeder in Thailand with someone from Sydney, Australia, but that’s exactly what I did this year.

               Newlywed Australian, Rebbecca Saidman, and her husband looked up the nearest Chabad House during their stay in the city of Chiang Mei. “It was really quite incredible and weird to be in Thailand in a place where a Seder was taking place. I have never had a Seder with 350 people,” said Saidman. “The non-judgmental atmosphere, which made everyone feel so welcome, is a huge part of what made this holiday so special for us,” she said.

               This year, the Chabad emissaries in Chiang Mei, Rabbi Moshe Haddad and his family, hosted 350 guests for the first Seder and more than 60 for the second. I was offered the opportunity to come and help.

               Getting to Chiang Mei was an adventure in itself, with stopovers in Germany and Singapore, and finally arriving in Bangkok and the last leg of our journey, a short flight north to the mountain resort.

               I left from New York at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, and arrived at our destination at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Though I came only a day before the festival, there was still plenty of work left to do. One of the major tasks was preparing lettuce for the Seder. Jewish dietary laws forbid eating bugs, and Jewish tradition dictates using lettuce, which can be infested with little white bugs. Lettuce is one of the symbolic foods for the Passover Seder so we had to check more than 2,000 leaves of lettuce to make sure they were bug-free.

               Finally, after a long day of feverish preparations and a Sederthat lasted almost to midnight, we thought we could go to sleep. Then another 20 people showed up who needed a Seder, so we did it all over again. Sleep didn’t become an option until the early hours of the morning.

               There were other adventures and unusual circumstances – some unique to Jewish tradition, some unique to Thailand, and many due to the intersection of cultures.

               This year, Passover and the Thai New Year overlapped, which meant that Jews coming to and from the Chabad House had to navigate their way through Mardi Gras style festivities in the streets. Many of us were doused as revelers happily sprayed each other with water guns during the celebration.

               While we were in Chiang Mei, the King of Thailand’s son decided to take a stroll in the area around the Chabad House. All cars, trucks and tuk tuks – a type of bicycle – were towed away to clear the streets. This happened during Mincha, afternoon prayer service.

                When Chabad guests went outside, they had to search for their bikes. No one understood what had happened. Then it became clear that officials had simply moved everything to the side to clear the area for the prince and his entourage.

               Unfortunately, not everything happening in Thailand these days is so festive. As I left during the intermediate days of Passover, there was rioting in the capital city, Bangkok. Many governments issued warnings to their citizens traveling in Southeast Asia. The Chabad Houses urged visitors to call home and let their families know that they were safe. It is one of the many services Chabad in Thailand has grown accustomed to providing for Jewish travelers. Chana Kroll contributed to this article.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community//2009/05/06/

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